I have exciting news: I got my “50” (actually 51 lbs.) early Thursday morning, October 20. My dream has always been to catch a 50 in a raging storm. Careful what you wish for…the weather was wild!
I left my house around 8pm for my 2 ½ drive to the water. I was headed for a particular Lighthouse in Rhode Island, aiming to fish the incoming on a late high tide (2am). Before leaving my house, I had talked to a fisherman about a lure order and found out he was from Rhode Island. I asked him about the conditions and he said they were pretty good — light wind — and he thought it would be a pretty nice night except for some rain. Personally, I expected the weather to be rougher, but his version sounded pretty good. I was not chasing any reports and had not heard of many fish being caught. I put in a book tape and off I went. Not a lot of rain on the way down, so easy driving.
When I got down to the shore it still was light rain and did not seem to be much wind. I suited up and went down to the light. When I looked over the sea wall my whole world changed! The surf was huge, the wind was whipping out of the northeast, and there was now a driving rain. The water was at the high tide mark two hours before the high tide (2am). Since I had thought the weather was going to be slightly more favorable, I had packed plenty of SLIM Trollers and Traditional Trollers thinking I would be able to get in the water and get these bigger plugs out quite a distance. That was not the case.
Not only was the weather not cooperating, the CTS rod I usually use was being repaired (I had dropped it on the Cutty trip, and a friend stepped on it and broke the tip). So I was using my 12′ Century NG Spod rod rated 3 to 6 — great for casting Trollers in calmer weather but better suited for casting Giants in wild weather. I was dressed up in my wetsuit and standing well up the rocks away from the water because of the big waves sweeping in. I found that I needed the extra distance I could get with a Surface Giant to fish this maelstrom. As a result, I used the only Giant Pike I had with me – a Dark Olive Iridescent Scale.
Warming Up – and the One that Got Away
I had to stay well back from a rock I usually fish at high water and there was still 2 hours until high. I dropped one fish after my 3rd cast, It didn’t come right in so a pretty good fish, but I didn’t see it. I was mad I dropped it because I felt like there were not a lot of fish around. I fished for another hour along that side for no hits.
Next, I went around to the front of the light and the waves were bigger and coming straight in, but the wind that was not blocked by the lighthouse was with me, so I could cast pretty far even though I was pretty far back from the water. I don’t fish the front of the lighthouse much because it’s pretty shallow with a lot of rocks. But there was plenty of water in there now, the wind was with me and it was all white water. So, why not?
Despite it being so wild, the water was clean and it looked real fishy and my pikes were swimming really well in the “Big Water”. I was getting my Giant out there pretty good and it was holding well in those big waves. I already had had a fish on it so I stayed with it. It was pretty beat up from fishing it in big waves at the Lighthouse in Montauk the week before. It had a deep gouge in the back and both glass eyes had been broken. I replaced them just before this trip.
I had been fishing for about a half hour out front, enjoying the thump of the plug swimming. On my next cast, I had the plug a third of the way in when I got the hit. The fish did not feel that heavy at first, but she was in shallow water and in big surf and she could not dig in. I felt I lost the prior fish because I played her a little too tentatively, so I laid into this fish and fought her very aggressively. I have found that if you give a fish it head it will likely take you into the rock, but if you get right up on her and break her spirit early you can get her in pretty quickly.
As she got closer, I was trying to keep her up in the big waves to let the waves pound her and help bring her in. At one point a big wave hit her and I lost contact with her. A brief panic…but I reeled up the slack and she was still on. She dug in one time and I held her there until another wave came and hit her. I could hear the rod creaking and the reel was moving in the reel seat. I did not want to spend a lot of time trying to find her with my light, but I did want to see her in case I dropped her. At first glance, it seemed a mid-30’s fish. When I got her in, she looked like a 40, and when I went down and tried to pick her up she was heavy. I ended up sliding her up the rocks as they were slick with rain.
You hate to kill a big fish but by the time I tried to weigh her and take some picture, we were both done in. With the big waves there was no way to get down in the water to revive her. I always wondered what I would do if I caught a really big fish. I am not into mounts and the best case would be to weigh it, take some pics and let her go. This time I was by myself and the conditions were too extreme to do anything quickly. I could not hold the fish up and read my 60 pound boga in the driving rain. I put my camera on the sea wall and put on the timer. I had 10 seconds to push the button run over and pick up the fish and try to hold up for the camera and look happy. After doing that 10 times, I was pretty tired. I finally hung my boga up on the fence above the sea wall. I hung the fish up and it was still leaning against the wall and the boga read somewhere between 46 and 50.
Soon after, a guy came out, looked at my fish and said “That’s a 50”. He helped me take some pictures though we were still unable to read the boga. While I rigged up, he fished my spot for an hour for no hits. I fished a little bit more, but I was done emotionally. The wind turned south and blew right in our faces. The surf got even bigger and it became unfishable out front.
Around 3am I left the Lighthouse to go find some ice. Thank God for the all night 7/11. The woman there even gave me a free bagel sandwich after she saw my fish. I started working my way home and to find a tackle shop to weigh the fish. I was resigned to the fact the fish was under 50. At 6am, I got to Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle just as it was opening. We weighed the fish on their digital scale. It was 51.
Damn, I got a fifty. Take a look! I thought my time had passed. I am fishing less and getting older. You just never know what life has in store!
A Few Interesting “Firsts”
The 50 was the first fish I have caught since using a new knot to attach my line to my leader (uni to uni) that I learned from Dante Soriente. This knot eliminates the need for a swivel to connect the line to the leader ; it also eliminates the fear of reeling the swivel through the tip top and guides, and damaging them.
Another first was my switch from 50 braid to 30 lb. FireLine Fused Original. It is supposed to have better abrasion resistance and perform better in the rocks. It may also have gotten me a little more distance.
Finally, this is the first fish I have caught on my new left-handed Zee Baas (I have one of the first) ZX25 reel. This reel is as smooth as silk and picks up the line easily in windy conditions. It fishes like a dream and held up to the rigors of fighting and landing my 50 in wild conditions.
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