Thursday, October 18, 2012

Martha's Windyard

A few weeks ago I was invited to go to historic Martha's Vineyard to fish the last week of the Derby. After about 15 minutes of deliberating, I was in. I cleared 3 days off the schedule, busted my hump to get an order filled and set out to the island of the mad Russian, Serge de Somov.

After a rain filled drive to Woods Hole, I boarded the ferry and tried to catch a few minutes of sleep. Anticipation must have been getting the best of me, because there was no sleep to be found behind my eyes. I got off the ferry, and headed over to Larry's Tackle Shop to get my derby entry and a few eels. Then off to the house to meet Rick and Jim. I have met Rick before (he is my official unofficial pro staff of one) as he has been very helpful testing plugs for me. Luckily these New Englanders graciously opened the door to this Jersey boy. We quickly started to put together a game plan and while I rigged an eel, they sorted through some plugs I brought for the house.

Shortly after dark, we shoved some food in our mouths, grabbed our wetsuits and waders, and headed out. We arrived at our location of rocks and started the walk. Rick requested I bring a larger 2 1/2 oz. darter that I have been holding in my back pocket, and of course he picked the color I liked best. After the first cast on the bar, I might have regretted giving it to him as he landed the first fish of the night. We were hoping that it would be a good start to the night. I had a light tap and then it was over, so we walked onto the the next point. The fishing that week, and for the whole derby was very slow, as the daily derby results confirm. We fished the rest of the night and didn't land another fish. We wanted to catch the dawn albie bite, so headed back for a couple hours of sleep.

We woke up and the plan was to take my truck. So I went hunting for my keys. I looked and I looked. So I thought maybe they were in my truck, and there they were right on the drivers seat. With my doors locked. And no key less entry. Awesome. So I grab my boga, pliers, and a few coat hangers and get to work. Bear in mind, I have no criminal history. I have never stolen or broken into a car. This might have happened to me before and I carefully watched professionals do their thing. After 20-30 minutes of failed attempts (I will say they were valiant efforts), we called AAA and were saved an hour or so later. Just in time to get to the harbor and miss the albie bite.  Way to go Choop. Me = super doofus. Rick save me more than a few bucks here and I should probably be sending him a huge box of plugs.

The rest of the day we spent eating and looking for albies, finally setting up camp for a dusk/dark bass bite. Apparently word spread on this bite and the picket line formed. Fishing on the island must have been really tough to force all of us (ourselves included) on to this little tidbit of intel. Just as the sun started to set the current started to move and a few fish were caught. I had a bite on a darter and then 15 minutes later landed my first bass on the vineyard. A 12 lber that ate a squid Choopy darter. I was relieved that I still had a little bit of ability left and was hoping that was the beginning of the mother load of fish moving into the spot, but no such luck.

We hit spot #2. The current was slowing and approaching slack. Luckily it only slacked for 15-20 minutes and turned around. Other than a few bluefish that tried to steal rubber and pork, there was no activity. I don't quite understand how, but that's why I am not a bass I guess. We headed back to the house and I jumped in my truck and headed to one of the inlets. I had never seen this inlet in daylight, so I was happy to find a few bass working over squid and spearing. I had a bite on a jig, and was hopeful. The inlet was only 50 or so feet wide, so I knew that every hit or fish hooked would probably put them down for a while. I walked up and down the inlet throwing jigs, weightless sluggos and darters with not much to show for it. No doubt that the casting was making them a bit shy. They were still boiling, but not as often as when I first arrived. My final trick was to get a metal lip swimmer and let it hang in the current. I selected a squid junior style swimmer that I bought from John Habs years ago when he came down to NJ for the Asbury Park Fishing Club's Flea Market. I figured there are squid and this would be perfect and hoped John would look down from above to provide a little help. I started at the outlet and worked my way in, just letting it hang in the current. On my 6th or so cast,  a fish exploded on the swimmer and I land a fat 6-7 lb striper. As predicted, the inlet shut down for a while. I headed to the other side of the bridge and tried to pluck a fish from under the bridge but no dice. I headed back to the house to get a couple hours sleep before we chased albies at dawn.

We get up, grab donuts and head out. This time I successfully find my keys. Dawn breaks and albies start to show in the harbor. I had one stuck for a micro-second, but that was it. We casted, and casted and waited for them to pop up in some significant numbers. I left to scout some spots, including the inlet where I had fished the night before. After some scouting, I headed back to the house for food, and hopefully a nap. The soothing effects of Sportscenter did the trick for 20 minutes, then I awoke. So I rigged an eel bob and got some stuff prepared for the night.

While the wind was bothersome while I was there at 10-15 knots of various directions, this nights forecast really handicapped the island. North 15-20 with gusts to 30. There didn't seem like there were a whole lot of places to hide in that wind. We headed off to where we thought we had the best chance. The only thing that could mess up this spot was if the wind wrapped around the island. Would you like to guess what the wind did? All my optimism and pma couldn't stop it. We get to the bar and the wind is across us instead of behind us like we hoped, but tolerable. No love on the bar. We move to the points and its wrapping worse where the belly in the line is very hard to deal with, even with lures like darters and swimmers that hold well in the water. After about 2 hours, we head to the north side and find the wind really cranking. It was the first time on a fishing trip out of my home waters I called it quits for the night. We drove back to the house and watched the Nationals and Cardinal game and had some laughs.

We woke the next morning. Jim and I packed the truck to catch a ferry, while Rick and Paul went to chase some albies. We made the drive over to the canal, I dropped off Jim and went on my way. I fought the urge to throw poppers in the canal, flip rocks for crabs to catch tog in Newport and cast darters in Watch Hill. I eventually made it home on a fairly smooth drive.

Despite the fishing being lackluster at best, I had a great time fishing with these guys. I learned a lot about the vineyard, some of its traditions and structure. Had lots of laughs. Got our buts handed to us, whether it be the wind, waves, cobblestones, albies, a set of stairs or ring of keys. I am looking forward to seeing these guys and the vineyard again. Till we meet again MV derby!

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