Monday, June 27, 2011

The Old Man and the Sea

I can count the number of times I've been out on my "new" kayak on one and a half hands. TJ and I had great plans to float a local river - a spot, incidentally, where reports now have it that 30lb stripers are "in thick" (this is a teaser to remind him to move the hell back to the CT coast) - but we got waylaid by instruments of torture. Todd and I have been planning a float for Lord knows how long, and  last night we got our shit together, motivated by the sight of The Yankee having all the fun. It was Todd's 40th birthday and we wanted to get him a nice fish. You're familiar with the usual ritual about wanting to catch fish, of course. It's always worth saying as a mark of friendly intent, but everyone knows it's a bit of an angling curse; a long shot at best, especially with the fly rod handicap. 

Those first few minutes afloat are always a little strange. Are those waves coming into the boat? If they keep coming at this rate, how long until I fill up and drown? Is it choppier where we're heading? Will this be the night I hurl?

Todd's boat is heavier than mine because he carries a lot more shit
We fished for a few hours seeing sporadic explosions of single fish (sporadic is a word anglers use to make "almost none" sound strategic). But it was great to be afloat and I was delighted with the performance of my kayak - a Chevy to Todd's Hobie Cadillac, but an almost perfect fishing boat. It was dusk before we saw the first action - we were just bobbing around wondering whether we should move, or go find a beer (stupid Sunday law that) when in the middle distance a 200 yard breadth of white explosions had us working the oars like men who have just seen a blitz would work some oars.  Then something cool happened. Todd cast out his other rod - I won't get all Prosek describing this thing: it has a big hook at the end. No fur. No fly. Anyway, first cast through the bait ball and the rod buckles over, and tows poor Todd a merry dance for a good while. I've never seen a bunker do that, but the snap that followed suggested a large blue had inhaled the bait as soon as it was impaled. We never saw the fish, but Todd celebrated anyway by losing his paddle. My stalk, sight and recapture where the finest of the night (okay, bar one).

A break to reclaim my backside

Encouraging, but we're not sure what happens next. It's a peculiarity of fishing from a kayak in open water that everywhere looks the same while the spot you're in is usually the least inspiring. If you just paddle further you'll find fish. So we paddled in a bit and started to see bigger fish having dinner. I pricked a few that could have been bunker, or were they bass phased by my wire trace? It didn't matter, because I wanted Todd to get a fish, and that's exactly what happened next. Having switched back to the fly rod - an inspired move! - for the next several minutes Todd lay siege with a brutish animal, which we assumed to be a bass by its deep diving and deliberate runs. He has a rudder on his boat, so at least he could dictate which direction to be towed in (just think about that - Todd may be slight, but his boat must weigh 90lbs. And they ask why we go fishing?) Finally the beast came up and we saw that wonderful big head and shoulders followed by three feet of glorious fish.

High fives were exchanged - don't ask, it was just the right thing to do, there was no-one about.  Fireworks lit up the long night sky as we paddled in - like the fish, just like I'd ordered. Sometimes it works out very nicely like that, and Todd was real happy. If you have to turn 40, this is about as good a way to do it, I guess.

Trolling is illegal in the State of Connecticut.

Kayaking on a calm evening. You just gotta do this.

What a beauty.

The Old Man.



  1. "working the oars like men who have just seen a blitz would work some oars."


    Congrats to Todd!

  2. Great read. Looks like fun. Not a bad birthday present.

    Thanks for sharing.