Every now and then things just fall into place for something good to happen. This past week, it was a work trip that took me to Bedford, NH, with a fantastic boss who allowed me to stay long enough to get a 5 hour fishing trip in. It’s hard to put into words how excited I was to go after a new species for the life list (Striped Bass), as well as, simply to get an opportunity to fish in saltwater for only the 4th time in my life.
We will fast forward past the nightmare of delayed and cancelled flights that took place trying to get to NH, and pick up with the morning of the charter. As you can see from the photo above, you could tell it was going to be a beautiful day right from the start. Outside of not having my wife and kids with me, I couldn’t think of a better place to be than aboard Reel Job Charters embarking on a new fishing experience.
It was awesome to have a co-worker, who is also a friend, that wanted to join me. I do a lot of fishing solo and it was a welcome treat to have someone to talk with on the trip. While Erin is not an overly avid fisherwoman, she does enjoy the outdoors and has an adventurous spirit. Certainly the type of person that is fun to hang out with. An added benefit, was Erin’s willingness to not only take photos – but take really exceptional photos (you will see).
The fishing plan for the day was to start out by catching our bait, Atlantic Mackerel. This proved to be very challenging and I was worried it would be an omen of what was to come. Fortunately, we had a bucket full of somewhat ‘fresh’ dead Mackerel, and Captain Steve had a great back up plan as a friend of his linked up with us out on the water to give us some live fish. With plenty of bait, we were ready to go after our target.
Once we began fishing for the bass it was evident the fish weren’t just going to ‘jump in the boat’ for us, we were going to have to work for them. Captain Steve set us up perfectly on the path we were drifting (as evidence by seeing other boats right by us hooking up), but we couldn’t muster a strike. So much about fishing is patience, and I knew we just needed to stay positive and keep at it. Finally, I heard the scream of line peeling off of a reel and looked to my left to see Erin expertly engaging the drag after letting the fish run with the bait. She did it just as the captain had instructed and continued to fight the fish like a pro, all the way to the net. Erin ‘breaking the ice’ for us was fun to watch and I was very excited for her! You can click HERE to see her with her fantastic catch, awesome job Erin!
After Erin’s fish, it wasn’t too long until there was another hookup. This time it was a third party on the boat, a real nice guy named Mike. Mike landed a short fish but promptly followed it up with another hookup. The second fish was a monster and it was an amazing fight to watch. The fish tried every tactic possible to come off, long runs, circling at the surface, under the boat, around the prop, but Mike and the captain were successful in getting it in. It ended up being the biggest Striper of the year for the boat thus far, and it was neat to be there to witness it. I can’t give the exact size, as I was anxious to get my line back in the water on the bow of the boat.
Seeing that catch, that fish, was bittersweet. While I was happy that everyone had made a fishing memory, as for myself I might as well have been a photographer than a fisherman at this point. I knew I had to coach myself into a good attitude, so I grabbed a fresh Mackerel, and launched my bait with renewed vigor. I was intensely fishing, paying attention to every movement of my Carolina Rigged Mackerel, even giving it a bit of action in addition to the steady drift of the boat. As we were nearing the point to take in our lines and motor back to the beginning of our drift, my index finger felt the line go tight, and a half second later the line was flying off the reel. There was no wondering, it was a fish. I let it take line for several seconds, then engaged the drag and set the hook. Until that moment, I just knew I had a fish, but when I got to feel the weight, I knew it was nice.
While I don’t exactly know what constitutes a big fish or an exceptional fish verse average for the locals, all I knew was the fish was fighting hard and was heavy. For me, an avid Ohio fisherman, it would be a trophy if I got it in. The fight remained pretty traditional other than the size and strength of the fish. It was far stronger than anything I have fought in freshwater. I was pretty exhausted by the time I got it to the boat, and thankfully it only took a few passes to get it head first into the net. I’m not certain if my biggest emotion was happiness or simply relief at making the catch, all I know was it felt great!
Once the fish was on the boat, I was intent on measuring it and shooting a host of pictures. The fish measured around 39″ and Erin was great as she just kept snapping away. I was thrilled when I reviewed the photos to see that she captured so much of the memory so well, and the fish itself. It was definitely a fishing experience that ranks high on my all time best.
After my fish, we still had an hour or so of fishing and that’s when things really heated up. Multiple additional Stripers were caught, but none that rivaled my first, and certainly none that touched Mike’s beast. I was content and more than pleased at how the day turned out. On the trip in, I snapped a few scenic shots and we also had the unique experience of watching a kayak fisherman land a nice Striper on the fly rod. It was incredible to watch and that guy had to be having the time of his life. What an epic day!