Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 206: First Light

This 26-inch striper hit an Ima Big Stick
When: Sunday, December 4th, from 6am to 8:30am
Where: The beach in Long Branch
What: Striper fishing with Pat
Weather: Overcast, high 30's warmed to low 40's, calm wind
Barometric Pressure: 30.56in and steady
Moon: Waxing, a few days after the first quarter
Water Conditions/Tide: Water was very clear, outgoing tide, low at 8:43am

Pat and I have been trying to get to the beach together since the stripers showed up a little over a month ago. If I had known we could do it this easily, I may have crawled out of bed at 4am on Sunday several weeks ago.

Since I do my writing for The Fisherman on Sunday, I need to be back home by 10 or 11 at the absolute lastest so I can comfortably get my work done. I had previously figured that making a trip down the shore beforehand would be too taxing, however, it worked out pretty well.

Pat and I picked Long Branch to toss some lures from the beach because I know the area well from when Mama was living in Pier Village. We also decided to forego getting any bait since it would add time to the endeavor and since most shops didn't open early enough.

Pat grabbed me at 5am and after a surprisingly short ride and even a stop at 7-11, we were tossing our plugs in the suds before "first light". This time of day is widely believed to be a great time to fish for bass off the beach and occurs well before actual sunrise.

I have to admit that my optimism was not great for either of us catching a fish. Since I had been reading reports, I knew the vast majority of the fish were well to the South of Long Branch. I was mostly looking forward to getting some fresh air and catching-up with Pat. However, to my absolute delight, I found myself with my rod bent, fighting what I would soon find out was a 26-inch striper after it inhaled my IMA Big Stick shortly after 7am It would have needed to be 2 more inches for me to bring it home and eat it, but I was happy to set it free.

This was my first time on the beach in December. Needless to say I was incredibly stoked and was hooting at the top of my lungs before I even brought the fish to hand. Thank goodness it didn't get off.

After pulling the striper through the wash and continuing on with my permasmile and my hollering, Pat looked at me and said something to the effect of "It's awesome to know that someone who has been fishing for over 200 days in a row can still get this excited about catching a fish."

That never gets old.

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