The Rats Nest

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Being Dealt A Bad Hand Courtesy Of Mother Nature

Nothing beats the anticipation and planning involved in a fishing trip, especially when it involves a friend coming out to visit and chase a species of fish that he has never had the opportunity to tangle with before.  The plan was for Mike to fly in Saturday night, scoop him at the airport and drive to the Cape where we would set up base camp at one of the family cottages in hopes of some mixed bag Striper fishing. Planning our trip around the full moon, we were figuring on some pretty consistent fishing.  Months of talking back and forth, filling fly boxes in between orders, and constant eyes on fishing reports, weather etc., it was looking like things were going to come together nicely.  When my buddy Chris showed signs of concern with the ever changing weather, the gears in my head instantly began turning.  I think the phrase he used was, "It's blowing snot here" rolled off his tongue when I called him on Friday.  Trying to remain positive despite the ever changing and dismal weather forecast, we made the run regardless.  We arrived on the cape around 2 AM Sunday, had a couple of beers, exchanged views at each others fly collections and hit the rack around 3:30, hoping that the weatherman was wrong.  The week prior we were slated for thunderstorms all weekend and we didn't see a single one, maybe we would be graced with another bogus forecast.
The Only Bait We Encountered, Washed Up In The Grass
Boy was that wishful thinking.  We awoke mid morning to stiff winds and sideways rain.  The rain subsided but the winds however did not.  When we arrived at our first location, a usually friendly flat that has fish and lots of bait, we were instantly punched in the face with steady 20 mph Northeasterly winds.  3-4 foot rollers and white caps greeted us and my heart began to sink.  We decided to give it a shot in hopes that things would change as the tide began to recede.  As we waded out and got into position it was very apparent that this just wasn't going to happen.   The winds intensified to an easy 30 mph making pinpoint presentations impossible and the lack of sunlight was making visibility even worse.  No fish, no bait and a turned upside down flat was the outcome.  We headed in early, licked our wounds, showered up and decided to get some sustenance.  A visit to the Chatham Squire was on the menu and it didn't disappoint, cold Guinness, and some seafood combined with some live Irish music saved the day.  After our gluttony we read and heard the weather report and were forced into making a decision we weren't too enthused about.  Rain and 40 knot Northeasterly winds were slated for the next day, and the extended forecast rang much of the same with winds at 15-25 mph; what was forecasted for today.  Do we stick it out and roll the dice, hoping for a change, or bag it entirely and chase some trout?  Plan B.....
Schmidt Locked Into A Farmington Brown.
Day 2 found us getting up early, hitting the Corner Store in Harwich at opening and grabbing a couple of their stellar breakfast burritos for the 3 hour ride home.  The food hit the spot for a rather sour ride home.   I mean, don't take this the wrong way but it did suck entirely having to leave the cape to head home to fish waters I can fish anytime.  This isn't the first time though that Mike and I have had our plans changed, you just roll with it and make the most of it.  When I went out his way in April of 2011 for some spring steelhead, we were hit with less than desireable conditions with a day of 60 mph winds, so it was all too familiar to us both.   We arrived at the house around 9:30 AM, swapped out our gear and decided that the overcast and rainy conditions would be worthy for rigging the streamer rods and throwing some meat all day on the Farmington.
Schmidt's Bush Brown With A Mouthful of Conrad 

Although the fishing was not red hot, we managed to stick some respectable fish.  We may not have stuck "The" fish, we did net a handful of nice quality browns.   The most notable was a wild looking 18 inch brown that Mike pretty much called like Ted Williams last homer.  Looking at a nice overhanging bush on the waters edge, Schmidt launched his Conrad Sculpin tight into the forage while saying that's where I would be if I was a brown trout.  One strip later and he was connected to a fine Farmington Specimen.
Close Up

We broke for lunch at the Pavilion in Peoples, called home and decided on staying for a few hours more before heading home for a traditional American meal of steaks on the grille.  We hit another stretch of water that was the most consistent fishing we had all day, netting a half dozen more fish, on of which was a long slender holdover brown with  a partially removed green elastomer.  I knew fully well that if we drifted nymphs all day we would have most definitely put several fish in the net, but we decided to hold fast with our plan and it payed off fairly well.  As Mike always says, "I'm willing to take the donut when I throw streamers, as you never know when that monster may show itself".  We moved some pigs today that never fully committed to the fly, so we figured a second day of the same might be in order.
Holdover Who Approved Of The Conrad

Day 3 greeted us with overcast skies, cooler temps and no rain to speak of, just intermittent bouts of drizzle.
Day 3 was a very long and tiring day.  Lots of casts with very little to show for it, well sort of.  Early on it looked like we might have a banner day but it never really panned out.  We did manage one fish, and boy was it a dandy.  Lets just say my largest brown of the season to date presented itself, and it fell to a Brown Hog Snare Streamer, a mouthful so to speak.  The hit, the fight and landing this slob was a rather surreal experience, and I was happy to have Mike there with me when it happened, despite the bittersweet outcome.  Mike has an affinity to large browns like myself, so it was really cool to share the experience with somebody who appreciates these fish as much if not more than I do.  Once the fish was in hand, we both kind of sat there  taking in the moment.  A few high fives, a bunch of pictures and then the tape measure broke out, and the fish stretched the tape to 26 inches on the nose.   Here are a few photos to wet your appetite, if you have doubts on the proportions of this fish, just take into account the fly in its mouth is 7 inches long, and my hand that is in it's mouth is roughly 8 inches long.....

Although it was the only fish of the day, it was a good one and we had a half day left of fishing before Mike had to depart home.  Pizza and beer at Little City Pizza was our plan that night as we reflected on our excursions, discussing fly designs and when the next trip together would be.   We spent our last day nymphing runs and riffles on the Farmington instead of chucking meat, and we had some decent success with nothing really large to speak of, just a nice mix of 12-14 inch browns.  The weather was the best we encountered the 4 days of our fishing trip, with sun and clouds and variable winds.

At the end of it all, we both agreed that a return trip was in order as Mike has a date with some Striped Bass that needs to be settled.  The only saving grace is he has about 10 dozen striper flies tied and ready for that day.  On a final note, we were faced with some unfortunate but funny circumstances on several occasions throughout the duration of fishing trip.  I won't dwell on the negative as there was some rather awesome positives that came as a result.  At any rate, we ate well, laughed hard and still managed to catch some fish so it was a success in my book.

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