Fishing Trip of My Lifetime
Although I grew up on the Cape, I had been absent for over 30 years. Having returned for the funeral of a dear friend, I sought some diversion through a spur of the moment fishing trip. Luckily, my Godson was able to join me at the last minute.
Fate alone put me on the Lady J this beautiful morning late in July. We left Barnstable Harbor at sunrise to a flat calm Cape Cod Bay. It appeared as if they day ahead would offer nothing more than a nostalgic sightseeing trip.
While still enjoying my wake-up coffee, the young mate (it was his first trip) anxiously announced, “Birds working.” Try as I may, these old eyes couldn’t pick anything out of the haze. I chalked it up to the wishful wonder of youth. However, from topside Capt. Phil turned loose the full power of the Lady J. She lept to the throttles and my adrenaline soon outpaced the caffeine. Just maybe?
Soon I too could see the great Herring Gulls diving on a surface all a boil with great swirling tails and the tell tale mirrored flashes of big Stripers. My departed father had been an avid surfcaster. He had told stories of seeing such a sight just a few times during his pre-war days. I had since written that off as just an enticement to a reluctant son. Here it was every bit as real as ever retold. As Capt. Phil coasted the Lady J into the midst of the frenzy a similar scene erupted on deck. Poles, lures, coffee cups and orders flying everywhere at once. Capt. Phil just grinned.
Soon the pandemonium was replaced with shouts of “Fish On.” I had chosen a light spinning rig opting for the thrill of the fight rather than a quick trophy. It took three casts with a rubber sand eel before I hooked up. The first strike ran off about 75 yards of line. It took 45 minutes for my first fish to come to the gaff. By that time most everyone else had their two-fish limit. The biggest weighed in at 43 pounds.
If the thrill of big bass wasn’t enough for one trip, Capt. Phil suggested we spend the rest of our time hunting Blue Fish. The “rush” of limiting out on Stripers was still hanging in the air when a school of feeding Blues was spotted. We caught and released until our arms grew tired. It seemed that not too many were as fond of a fresh Blue Fish fillet sizzling on the charcoal drenched with butter and lemon as I.
As we motored back into the harbor, I wondered if that young mate thought all his coming days were going to be like the one I had waited 60 years to experience. If it was to be, he was on the right boat!