Last Thursday Steve swung the 18-ft. Lund into the current at the top of Carr Island and shut down the Yamaha. We were looking for stripers and the warm sun, gentle breeze and outgoing tide made conditions perfect for a drift down the secondary channel on the north side of the island. We knew the weather was going to be bad over the next few days so we wanted to get out when we could.
We had put in to the Merrimack River at the launch site off Merrimac St. above the Route 1 bridge in Newburyport. At the top of the tide we had gone upstream, across the river and up the channel behind Ram Island.
I shook out a floating line with a sinking tip and tied on a yellow/red clouser onto a 7 ft. leader. The Diamond Matrix 9-wt. 4-piece rod was just perfect under these conditions. Steve decided to use a full sinking line and tip to get down a couple of feet more under the surface. With me in the bow and Steve in the stern, we started to work the shoreline.
The channel here dropped off quickly to about 18 feet, with a hole or two along the way scoured out to 30 feet. We could almost cast to either bank as we eased on down the river.
A fished swirled in front of the boat and I drove a line toward where the fish had just been. As I was ripping the fly back through the water with short, quick strokes expecting a strike at any moment, it was Steve that got the first hit.
"Fish on!" he exclaimed, as his tip bent to the task. The line stripped off his Okuma reel as the striper made his first run upstream.
Knowing that we were probably in a school, I kept casting as he played his fish. On the second cast I was rewarded with a sharp pull and run of my own. Now we had two fish on in this narrow channel. They were not the big, bragging type of fish, but they were, as they say, "a tight line."
It took us both about five minutes to land our fish. Although they were not keepers, they were a lot of fun on a fly rod.
By now we had drifted to a place on the island where there was a set of rocks sticking out into the river. Just behind these rocks there was a back eddy that swirled over a fairly deep hole. Steve dropped his fly into the dark water and let it sink toward the bottom. With quick little jerks, he mended the line back into the boat. The small fly darted to and fro against the heavy current, looking like a minnow that was hurt.
Just as he was lifting the tip of his rod to recast the fly the big striper struck. It was so close to the boat we could see the open mouth just before it swallowed in the bright yellow fly. It an act of remarkable restraint, Steve let him take the fly before he yanked the line tight. With so little line out, the rod bent an the line went whipping off the floor of the boat as it sang through the guides.
This time I just stood and watched, not wanting to screw up his fight by getting in the way with a schoolie. The fish made his first run down the river. He neither darted right or left, but just ran directly away from us, looking like he wasn't going to stop until he got to Plum Island!. Steve raised the rod up and let the composite wand do its work.
Soon he was into the backing, but the fish did not seem to want to slow down. As it approached a small setback, it turned and stopped. He sulked there a minute or two. Steve applied a little pressure and the fish started to slowly work his way back toward us. a few minutes later this nice little keeper came to the boat. Steve reached over the side and gave a little twist on the barbless fly. The fish sort of held their a second or two, not believing he was free. Then, with a flick of his tail, he disappeared into the heavy current and the dark water below.
We spent the next couple of hours working the narrow channel on the outgoing tide. We would motor up to the head of the island and then drift on through. We took perhaps fifteen fish, all seemingly fat an happy. Given the paucity of schoolies over the past couple of years, it was nice to see all of these fish in the river.
We found out later that the place to be last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday was at the mouth of the Ipswich just in front of Little Neck. The big bass were in there feeding on bait fish. Some big fish were also being taken about three miles out north of Halibut Point. The bait that was really working there was live mackerel.
Adam Smith, myself and three other jamokes went flounder fishing on Friday in Boston Harbor. Although it was sunny out early in the morning, the win was really starting to build. The weather system was moving in, but we thought we could sneak in a half day of fishing in the lee of Deer Island.
We put in the Charles River where the duck boats launch and steamed out under the flyway into Logan Airport. Planes roared directly over us at a height that it seemed we could reach up and touch them. We went right and tucked up under the island off Winthrop. The mouth of the harbor had waves to eight feet, but here the sea was relatively calm.
We used about 4 ounces of weight and a couple of flounder hooks baited with some nice fat sea worms we picked up at Pete Santini's in Everett. At $50 dollars a box, it worked out to about $2 a fish for bait. Although the fishing was slow, we did manage to catch enough so that everyone went home with a bag of nice fillets.
Now, if this stormy front and cold weather would would just go out to sea!