The general definition of ‘stupid fishing’ is no matter what you throw at the fish, you can catch on it. ‘Stupid fishing” by my definition is a little different. Let me explain.
I arrived on Cuttyhunk for an early June two-night trip. With such a short time on the island, it is important to find the fish as soon as possible. This can be accomplished by talking to fishermen already on the island or doing some daytime scouting. A storm the night before we arrived had made the south side of the island (the side I was intending to fish) unfishable: big surf, dirty water and, worst of all, weeds. On the north side, conditions are normally quieter – with smaller fish. Not surprisingly, I had never fished the north side. But with reports from local fishermen of fish up to 24 lbs. the night before, the north side seemed the best bet. Daytime scouting confirmed this as there were birds working and occasional splashes of feeding fish. Every so often, a fish about a foot long jumped completely out of the water. I was hoping these jumping fish were bigger bait because that would have meant that I had succeeded finding bait and fish in a very short period of time.
Here is where the stupid comes in. At dark, when it was finally time to fish and everyone headed to the north side to fish, I decided on a whim to try the big water on the south side. When I started to fish, the water was pretty clean and the surf manageable. But no fish. The farther south I went, the bigger, dirtier and weedier the water got, and as predicted, the south side was unfishable.
I decided I would head to the north side after all. In an attempt to save some energy and time, I took a vaguely remembered shortcut – in the dark. I soon became lost in the interior of the island and wandered around for 1-1/2 hours – and came out where I had started. The wind had died down by then and the surf looked fishable from the bluff. Second bad choice, I decided to stay on the south side and walked the whole south shore without seeing another fisherman or finding even a single fish. Pretty unheard of on Cuttyhunk in June.
To make a long story short, the guys on the north side of the island found fish. Their only concern when I didn’t come back was that I got bigger fish. What I got was chafing from my wetsuit and blisters from my wetsuit booties. Dumb!
The next day the wind shifted and blew from the north and we found the same bait and birds in a cove right below where we were staying. To add insult to injury, the crew caught fish all around me on my plugs while I went fishless. The biggest catch was Peter Fu’s 34 lb. striper caught on his first cast with a sand pike. The plugmaker in me was ecstatic: guys were catching all around me on my plugs – SLIMs, SLIM MDs and Giants. But the fisherman in me was humbled: I felt stupid.
The good news is I am writing this from the deck of the Block Island Ferry headed over to guide Kiernan McGlynn, the co-winner of the “Support the Troops” auction. The report is the fishing is spotty and a storm is brewing. To be continued…
Bright Points of the Trip
I fished with two great chefs, Andrew Chase and Peter Fu. On my early trips to Block Island, I would subsist on bird seed and come back looking like I spent 50 days on a life raft. Now, even with all that walking, I ate like a king and gained a few pounds. These guys cooked great meals on Cuttyhunk! If their food is half as good in their restaurants as on the island, definitely check these restaurants out next time you are in New York City. Andrew is at the Katja Café, 70 Orchard Street, and Peter is at the Grand Central Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station.
I also had the opportunity to fish with Alan Cordts. He is a fine fisherman and you may have heard his name before — he has a couple of stories in “Striper Tales” by DJ Muller. Alan showed me his version of the FG Knot (google it) he uses to connect his shock leader. I have been toying with the idea of a shock leader. I use one on my conventional, but having that big knot going through the guides has turned me off. It would be nice to have an extra long leader fishing in the rocks though. Alan’s knot (using a Sauerkraut Slice) connecting 60 lb. pound mono leader to 50 lb. braid, or in my case 30 lb. fireline original fused, is seamless. It is nothing you will be tying out in the surf, but a few pre-tied leaders would do the trick. I will give this knot a good work out at Block and give more details if it passes the test.
And finally, a couple of good reads. Just when you think it has all been said, a couple of old salts feed you more gems. They may be mainly boat fisherman, but they know fishing for stripers. The books are “Striperman” by Sherwood Lincoln and “Walking on Water” by Charley Soares.
All for now. I’m on Block June 16-23 – hoping to come home without a single stupid story.
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