And he said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A "Taylor"-Made Weekend - If You Like Blue Sky and Blue Fish

Last weekend Mike and I were invited by my brother to join him for a weekend of fishing up on Fenwick Island, DE.  I hadn't been there in easily 15 years, and hadn't fished there in over 30, so I jumped at the chance.  Mike had never been to that stretch of the country, so he was happy to go, too.  We left early Friday morning, right after rush hour, and before long we were crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel onto the Eastern Shore.  Less than an easy 2 1/2 hour drive later, we were driving across the Rte. 90 bridge to Ocean City, MD.  A turn left before we hit the ocean, and as soon as we crossed into Delaware, we were in Fenwick.

Ted, unfortunately, had had a tougher morning.  Having arrived late the night before, he had driven onto the beach early in the morning only to discover that the 4WD on his Expedition wasn't working.  After he stopped to talk to some fellow anglers, he started up again only to suddenly sink up to his axles in the soft sand.  Fortunately he had a shovel, so an hour later, he had dug himself out of the hole, lowered the air pressure in his tires, and was able to pull off the beach.  After re-inflating his tires, he headed north to Rehoboth to the Ford dealer there to see what the problem was.  He needed a new part, and wouldn't have 4WD until he returned back home.

That didn't stop Mike and me from getting to the cottage, unloading, and heading to the beach.  We found a beach access and met "Irish Joe" (an old man with a rod -- and a brogue accent), and asked him where the tackle shop was.  He told us it's two blocks that way.  (He pointed west).  "You can't miss it."  We missed it.

But two miles west, we found another one -- Captain Mac's.  We bought some fresh finger mullet and live spot, and headed back to the beach.  We had to walk on to the beach, and by the time we had made 2 trips each for our stuff, Ted was joining us.  We greeted each other, got our lines in the water, and enjoyed a beautiful "bluebird" afternoon on the beach.  Before long, Ted's line wiggled.  He reeled in a taylor bluefish, so the weekend wouldn't be a skunking for us.  (Don't laugh... we've had weekends where we've caught nothing.)
The first fish of the weekend -- not a monster blue, by any means... but not the smallest of the weekend.  Stay tuned.
 A little while later, Mike's rod wiggled.  Reeling in, he saw he had outdone Ted, with a "double" -- 2 taylor blues on his rod.  This, of course, usually means he wasn't paying attention when the first one hit, and just was lucky that a second hit, too, before he noticed.  Anyway, the weekend was shaping up well, we thought.
Mike's double!  Twice the fish, for twice the fun.
Just a few minutes after that, Mike's lighter rod wiggled again -- a little heavier this time.  He picked it up, reeling in, and the fish ran north for a minute.  This was a nicer fish than the taylors we had been catching.  A minute later, he reeled in a "shortie" striped bass.  Unfortunately, at 18" it was just 10 inches shorter than what it had to be for us to keep it, but it was encouraging.  Maybe the water wasn't too warm for the stripers.  (But this one had all the coloration of a local schoolie that didn't migrate.)  Still, we were hopeful.
It's "Rock"tober.  Even if this one was too small to keep.  We had hopes that there would be more....
A few minutes after releasing the small rockfish, Mike's rod bent harder again.  He grabbed it, and the fish went screaming down up the beach.  Could it be a nicer striper, or bigger bluefish????  After a fun minute of watching him work the fish up the beach, it came to the shore and we saw it was.... a skate.  What a bummer.
The skate:  The one Mike caught really ran down the beach, making us think he had something worthwhile.  Usually, however, skates just suck onto the bottom, and then feel like dead weight when you are reeling them in.  One of these days, we are going to start keeping them, cutting off the wings, cut them in circles, and fry them up like scallops.  They are supposed to be delicious!  I just haven't tried them yet -- knowingly.  (As opposed to who knows how many I've eaten in various restaurants that serve "scallops", just like they serve "krab".)
As the sun set behind us, we stayed a bit longer, but then decided to head back and get something to eat.  Ten minutes later we were back at the cottage unloading.  After showering and getting presentable again, we took the short drive to Nantucket's -- an upscale bar/restaurant.  It was too crowded, and we were hungry, so we went two blocks south and hit the pizza joint.  An order of Philly Cheese Steak with lettuce and tomato, with sides of onion rings and fries hit the spot more than I expected.  By the time we were done, I was tired.  We were all tired.  We went back to the cottage and hit the hay.  Tomorrow would be a long day....

By 5:30 the next morning, we were on the beach in my truck with the permit.  It was well before sunrise, and we admired the beauty that was the predawn darkness.  There was almost no ambient light, and the constellations were as bright as could be.  Orion shone directly overhead and when I looked up at him, a meteor flew towards the ocean from his belt, like a "thunderbolt from his arse", I said (a little Zeus-like reference ... or Braveheart). 
"Thunderbolts are coming out my arse" or was it the fried onion rings I ate last night.... 
When the sun finally did start to rise, we had already had our lines in the water for a while.  It was a new day.  Would it be another good day?
The cool of the morning quickly gave way to another "bluebird" day, with temps in the 60's. 
As the sunrise occurred, the bite was on.  Unfortunately, it was only a bite with taylor blues and skates, but it was better than nothing.  We all caught several of each, and Ted finally had the chance to use his new "Stingray Heavy Hooker" rod.  (He hadn't used it in Nantucket a few weeks earlier.)  Aside from making a noise we couldn't immediately identify, it wasn't long before he caught his first fish with his new rod -- a blue.
Ted with his first fish on his new rod.  It wasn't big, but it counted.
Blues were the fish of the weekend, so we dug into our tackle box and found 20 year old blue fish rigs.  It had been quite a while since we had purposely targeted blues.  As the day wore on, we moved to the Three R's ramp to the beach.  There were more people there, but we settled in and caught a few fish.  But the middle of the day was sunny, warm, and the water was calm.  Most fish don't like "bluebird" days, and this was one of them.  Still, we continued to check our lines often, because the rock crabs were having a feast with our bait.
checking my rod tip for a wiggle... Is it a crab, a small blue, or another skate.  And why do I have a raccoon line by my eyes?  Oh yeah, I forgot to put sunscreen on my face.
After several hours, and watching Ted get irritated at people closing in on our "spot" (including a mother and child playing near their father/husband and his brother who were fishing), we decided to go back to where we had started the morning fishing, so we loaded up the truck and pulled off the beach.  And I made a mental note of how I can irritate Ted....  (insert evil giggle here.)

As we drove back south, we passed an old WWII submarine watch tower, and Ted and I each recounted our escapades we had done in our younger days in and around those things.  They are now historic landmarks -- for the record, not because of what we did, but because of their significance to looking for U-boats during the war.
Oh the things these towers could say, if they could talk.... 

We went back to where we started the morning, and yes, we started catching fish again.  That is after we got "fresh" bait.  If by "fresh" you mean frozen that has recently been thawed, then that's the bait we bought.  Frozen bait of any kind never works as well as fresh when you can get it.  And the freshest is what you catch, yourself.  So when we caught a bluefish again, he became our bait.  Since bluefish are cannibals, it's hard to feel sorry for one who has already shown he is willing to eat his brother.  So into the bait cooler they went, as we continued to wait and hope for another striper.  but to no avail.

Then Mike caught a memorable fish.  I'm not even sure how it hit and stayed on his hook, but he reeled it in, and here it is.  The smallest blue of the weekend.
Not sure why he's so happy and sticking out his tongue, but this is Mike flashing his baby blue.  The smallest fish of the weekend.  It ended up going back in the ocean -- on his hook.  That is, until it got off.
As the sun went down behind us, we got our headlamps ready, and prepared for some evening fishing.  It was a beautiful sunset, that hopefully signaled some decent night fishing.
As we watched the sun go down the second day, we hoped it was a good sign.  The weather was just too %$#@*& nice!
Sure enough, after the sun was down, my rod wiggled.  "Fish on!"  It wasn't a blue!  No, it wasn't.  It was a...  dogfish.  Dammit!  Now the doggies were feeding at dusk.  Within an hour of catching several, I was suddenly being called Dogfish Dan.  No thanks.  But I do like Dogfish Ales.
I would happily trade 6 of these things...
for 6 of these anyday.   Which is appropriate, since we were up in Delaware, and Dogfish Head is a Delaware microbrew.
We sat in our chairs, looking up at the stars again.  The sky was clear, and we watched several satellites fly by at 17,000 mph (according to Ted).  There's another one, a German one this time, that's supposed to fall to earth soon, I said.  Duck!

Sometime after 8 p.m., we had had enough and went back to the cottage, showered and went back to Nantucket's at around 9.  The crowd in the bar was light, and we found three seats in the bar.  A Maker's 46 for me, a martini for Ted, and an Elijah Craig for Mike, and we sat, watching the World Series, and ordered some food.  I must say, the food was excellent!  I got the famous chowdah and the duckling, and was impressed with both.  I'd go back.
Located right at South Carolina Ave. on Fenwick Island, it's an upscale bar/restaurant.  Excellent menu, and excellent wine/beer/spirits selection.
After a delicious meal, we decided to see if any tackle shop might be open that may have REAL fresh bait.  I suggested we go to Captain Mac's again, since theirs was fresh yesterday, and at least see what time they open in the morning, after all, it was almost 11 p.m.  We drove there only to see the "Open" sign was lit, and the door was ajar.  I walked in.

"Hello?  Are you open?"  Finally from the back came a father and son.  He quickly turned off the sign and smiled, "what light was lit?" he said kiddingly.  He and his son were getting ready to drive all night to upstate New York for some Steelhead and  Brown trout fishing.  Suddenly I got jealous.

Well, they weren't open, but he was happy to sell us some finger mullet, and that was one less thing we had to do in the morning.  So it was back to the cottage and off to bed.

By 6:00 the next morning (we slept in a little later) we were back on the beach, enjoying the clear predawn sky filled with stars again.  But this time Orion wasn't the only one with meteors shooting out of his body parts.  We saw numerous meteors within the 30 minutes or so before sunrise, and it was a sight to see.  And once again, as the dawn brightened, the fishbite began....

With more skates.  More dogfish.  And yes, finally more bluefish....  And now the blues were at least a little bigger -- up to 14 inches or so.  So it was a little better action.

Ted caught the biggest of the day with his Heavy Hooker, and we all caught several "keeper" sized taylors.
A nicer "Keeper" blue, caught on Ted's Heavy Hooker rod.  It's pretty sad when you get excited about catching a 14" fish after a long weekend, but I guess it's all relative.
We were back at the "quiet", more isolated part of the beach, where we were alone, and where we had success earlier.  It was nice being alone on the beach with nobody around, except for only the occasional person taking their morning stroll.  That's why I couldn't resist irritating Ted when the opportunity arose a little later in the morning when an older man drove up and parked about 50 yards away from us to the north.

As I have said time and time again, when the fishing is slow, one must think of something to do to occupy one's time.  I just happen to enjoy practical jokes (such as I wrote about with Jerry wading to the sandbar -- "And They Call It Puppy Love", or Mark falling asleep in the sand -- "In the Beginning; the Genesis of Boys' Weekend".)

Purposely within earshot of Ted, I sarcastically said, "Oh sure, please park right here next to us.  Because this is the ONLY place that the fish are."  Ted took the bait, and looked over to see the old man getting out and setting up his tackle.  And he was even setting up THREE rods, which was one more than you were supposed to.  He cursed, calling him a name I can't mention on this P.G. blog.

As fate would have it, the current was moving north to south, and Ted was the northernmost of us three.  The man cast his three rods, and sure enough one of them "sliced" towards the south.  We were sure the current would do the rest.

"That son of a B----" crossed my line," he said disgustedly.  I could tell he was hot.

"Why don't you reel your line in," I suggested.

"No, I'm going to leave it in until he reels in and brings in my line."  Ted was looking for a confrontation.

Ten minutes later Ted's line drooped as the man started reeling in his empty hook.  (Daggone crabs.)  Ted walked over to his rod, held it, and waited for the man to reel up the two rigs.  Ted started reeling, and when the man grabbed both rigs, Ted yelled,  "That's MY LINE!"

The man undid the tangle, tossing Ted's rig in the sand.  Ted reeled it in.

"THIS BEACH IS BIG ENOUGH FOR ALL OF US!!", he yelled at the old-timer.  Steam exuded from his ears.  He had finished his cold coffee hours earlier, so it couldn't have been from that.  (My work is done, I thought, as a silent smile crossed my face.  This one was TOO easy.  That softball was just lobbed right in my wheelhouse.) 

The morning wore on, and we finally had heard too much of Ted's new rod squealing.  We walked over while he was reeling, and realized it wasn't the reel  making the high pitched noise; it was the tip of his rod.  The "glass" of the eyelet was cracked, and it had been shredding his 20# test line all weekend.  He thought he was reeling in some kind of "cottony" substance from the ocean, but when we saw the line scratching through the cracked eyelet, we realized it was a good thing he hadn't caught a big cow striper -- or it would have broken the now weakened, strafed line.  (Oh, what we would have paid to have that problem occur....)

Anyway, he put away the rod until he could get it repaired, and used a different one.  But the reality was that the sun was getting higher, the day was warm, the ocean was flat, and the bite was over. It was another damn "Bluebird" day.  A little before noon we wrapped it up, and slowly packed up our gear.  There would be no big blues, and no more stripers.  I kept four of the larger blues, filleted them, and put them in a ziploc bag.  They would go toward a nice little fish fry dinner in the not-too-distant future.

Before we left the beach, however, the old man walked over to us and told us that he had been here yesterday and caught a bunch of blues.  "Yeah, No $#!+, Sherlock.  The Blues are F---ing everywhere!"  Ted was thinking.  I smiled again.

We dumped our bait for the seagulls to enjoy, and I'm sure Ted was hoping one would fly over and poop on the old man.

After packing and helping clean the cottage, Mike and I said our goodbyes and headed out.  Forty minutes later we were back, as Ted had called after he realized his coat, wallet and cell phone were still in my car.  But we enjoyed the ride back.  It was an easy drive, especially as we each enjoyed a nice Romeo y Julieta cigar, and as we finally reached the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, the late afternoon sun was shining on the bay making it shimmer and glimmer like gold.
The bay was calm, the water reflecting the sun, and the boaters were out -- including a couple of kayakers, fishing the pilings of the CBBT. 
We stopped at the restaurant/giftshop/fishing pier on the first island, as Mike had never done that before, and enjoyed a quick walk to the end of the pier.  Sea mullet, striped bass and tautog were the fish the anglers were targeting.  And we realized that for the cost of going on the CBBT, a whole carload of people are allowed to fish -- at a much cheaper price than the various other piers in the area that charge on a per person basis.  Hmmm, something to keep in mind, if we ever want to get into pier/bridge fishing again.

Forty minutes later when we arrived at Mike's, there wasn't too much sadness that the weekend was over.  We had had fun, and both agreed we would do it again; but we also knew we will all be getting together again in less than four weeks to enjoy the 25th anniversary of our Boys' Weekend on the Outer Banks.  And it should be a fun one!  Can't wait!!

Until next time,

Fish ON!


(And in anticipation of our big B.W, here's a blast from the past -- in the days before email, when I had to send out a newsletter to all the participants.  Here's the "Header" from my '93 Newsletter.  Can you identify everyone?)
Yes, the classic caricature drawing of all of us, that some even have framed.  A few pounds lighter, fuller heads of hair, and boy did we drink a whole lot more back then.  But at least our fishing has improved.

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Favorite Thing. Striper Season!

With all due respect to Julie Andrews, raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens have nothing on silver, striped fishies that pull on your string -- Those are a few of my favorite things.  And now that it is past October 4th, the Fall Striped Bass season is open here in Virginia.  I just have to get out there and get one or two... per trip.  I've already got some Pinot Grigio ready for my first pecan-encrusted rockfish of the season.  It's just a matter of time... and finding the time.
I would imagine that while many coffee tables may have nice magazines dealing with fine beverages or vices, not too many are covered with fishing books, magazines and even coasters....

During the offseason (the rest of the year),  I've been preparing by reading about and researching these wonderful, diverse fish.  In addition to "On the Run", a book I mentioned two posts ago, my brother has sent me an autographed copy of "Striper Surf", by Frank Daignault, a New Englander who is a veteran striper surf caster; as well as "The Complete Kayak Fisherman", by Ric Burnley -- a local guy who is one of the foremost experts in the mushrooming sport of kayak fishing.  These books are now on my coffee table with some of my other favorite fishing books, one of my other favorites is also mentioned here.
Available on Amazon.com, as well as Stripersurf.com.  This man knows what he is talking about....

An excellent basic, "How to" book for the kayak angler.  With enough enticing photos of guys with beautiful fish, to encourage you to do it.  (Many of these guys are members of the local Tidewater Kayak Anglers Assoc., a group I need to join one day when I have enough time to get into it more.  Meanwhile, I'll just keep lurking on their website.)

One of my favorite books, I've had for years and keep on my coffee table.  I never tire of looking through it.
I know I have said before, that if there were only one fish I could target, it would be the striped bass.  They live in fresh or saltwater; they can be found in lakes, rivers, streams, the surf, the bay, or farther out in the ocean.  They are fun to catch whether they are four pounds or 44 pounds, and can be caught in a wide variety of methods, whether it is fly rod, light tackle, boat rods or heavy duty surf rods.

They may be down deep, where you have to "wire line" for them, or they may be breaking the surface, blitzing, where flies, plugs or spoons are the preferred lures.  Or they could be somewhere in between.  And they are delicious at any size, too -- should you choose to keep one or two.  The sweet, white, flaky meat can be prepared in any variety of ways -- or even not cooked at all, but with a little soy and wasabi.  Their comeback story from the decimated, overfished populations in the '70's and '80's to the record setting numbers that exist today, is one of the greatest environmental successes ever.  And I am grateful.  Because to me, it is the perfect fish.  And it fights like the dickens, too....

I am fortunate that I have a brother who obsesses over things such as fishing as much as me.  In fact, as I write this he is up in Nantucket visiting friends, while attempting to get some striper fishing at night.  Then later this month we are planning on meeting in Fenwick, DE for a mini "Boys' Weekend" for stripers and blues.  And of course next month we have our Silver Anniversary "Boys' Weekend" down on the OBX of NC.  In a way, he is enjoying a mini "On the Run" venture, following the pin-striped migrators.  (Having said that, as of this writing, I've received no text photos of him holding any fish yet, so I assume that means he's had no luck -- yet.)

In addition to my brother Ted, and my son, Parke, my friends also love to text me or call when they've had a successful fishing trip.  This weekend, another buddy, Jerry, has already texted me with two beautiful redfish he and a friend have caught on his annual SC fishing trip.  I'd include one of the photos right here, typically, but Jerry is shirtless in the photo and he is too good a friend for me to do that to him.  ("Middle-aged spread" does not make for a pretty picture, regardless of how nice the fish is....  You're welcome, Jerry.)

Dennis, a reformed boater who I've turned on to kayak fishing, has a wife who loves to fish at least as much as he does.  Yesterday, someone asked if I had heard how he did when he fished the Lynnhaven Inlet area the other day.  I responded, "I didn't know he went.  But I can assure you, if he had had any success, he would have texted me a photo.  So I bet he caught nothing.  In this case, no news is bad news."  (My money is always on his wife when it comes to them fishing, anyway.)

Then there's Michael (not to be confused with fishing buddy, Mike).  Michael, a Marine, is a true military hero, who almost gave his life for our country in Iraq - twice.  Several years ago, I introduced him to the sport of kayak fishing, and he has taken to it with the same gusto that made him a success in the Marines.  He now can't go on any fishing trip without sending me text photos of his catches.  (I tell of how I got him into kayak fishing in my "Give a Man a Fish... Teach a Man to Kayak Fish" post I wrote last year.)

But none of these hold a candle to Janie.  Janie has been after me to tell her story for as long as I've been writing this blog.  Janie is Mike's wife, and, well, let's just say that she is enthusiastic about whatever she does.  And she loves to fish, too.
Here is Janie with her very first (and only) puppy drum that she caught kayak fishing a couple summers ago.  The pup gave her a nice Nantucket Sleigh Ride, during which, Janie's screaming scared every other living creature out of the Nansemond River, and most of the Chesapeake Bay.  The puppy drum fishing hasn't been as good ever since....

 To say Janie can be loud is like saying the sun can be bright.  Perhaps her best story is the following:  About 10 years ago, it was a beautiful late autumn Saturday, and I was home doing yard work.  Mike and Janie and their kids were enjoying a fall weekend in Nags Head.  By late morning, I was on the roof more than two stories high, cleaning out the gutters of our Cape Cod-style home.  Suddenly my wife yelled to me, "There's a phone call for you!"  She tossed me up the handset, and I said, "Hello?"  My hearing has never been the same ever since....

"I CAUGHT A STRIPER!!!!!!"  I heard Janie yelling into her cell phone from the beach. 
Janie's first striper.  You can look at its face and see that it is still in shock from hearing her screaming into the phone. 

A dozen shingles nearby shook off the roof because of the sonic blast and vibrations emanating from the phone ....  "Congratulations," I said as I held the phone away from my ear, "But I can hear you without the need of a telephone."  She was so excited, she proceeded to tell me how she caught it in the surf, screaming and panicking the whole time, afraid it was going to come off the line.  Mike guided her through it.  It didn't.  But I can only imagine that anyone else that may have been on the beach with her that day is probably also still suffering from hearing loss.
I highly recommend these, also available on Amazon.com, after having a conversation with Janie when she's excited about something....  You can buy a pair now, for under $330.  What a deal!

Hmmm, come to think of it, we haven't had as much success striper fishing down on the OBX in the last several years since she was down there and caught her fish....  Coincidence?  I think not.  Most of the fish have learned to stay away from loud noises, and now don't migrate as far south.  And Janie wonders why we call it "Boys' Weekend", and don't allow girls....

Anyway, back to Ted.

Always in search of a great deal, as well as buying American-made products, it was Ted who turned me on to Avet reels, (one of the few quality reels you can buy left-handed); and it was Ted who has told me about another website Stingraytackle.com.

A decade ago or so, when our "Boys' Weekend" gang first started buying "Heavers"  (heavy-duty 12' graphite surf rods capable of heaving 8 oz. of weight and bait), you could buy a decent, basic rod like a Tica or Sea Striker Beach Runner, for under $120.  These rods now cost about 50% more, and in my opinion are not worth it.  Well Ted needed a new heaver, so he contacted Stingray and ordered their "Heavy Hooker"  (no, it is NOT an overweight mail-order prostitute....).

I checked out the website, and must say I was skeptical.  A decent surf rod for $109?  But it didn't mention how much weight it could toss.  You could, however, get it personalized with your name, and even a fish decal.  I looked at the various fish decals they offered.  Marlin, tuna, mahi....  Hmmm, I may be able to cast far from the beach, but I haven't reached the Gulf Stream and caught any of those fish, yet.  And no striped bass, no red drum, and not even a bluefish were offered.

I sent them an email inquiring as to why they didn't offer these fish decals, and what maximum weight each rod could heave.  I even made that little joke about reaching the Gulf Stream.  A couple days I received a response:  They acknowledged that they had taken a rod out into their parking lot to cast it, and that much to their dismay, they couldn't reach the Gulf Stream, but they did hit the parking lot of the bank across the way....  A business with a sense of humor -- gotta love it.  And they had added the weight capacity to their fishing rods main webpage, and now offered all three fish I mentioned as options.  That was impressive.

Then I got a call from my brother.  He had received his rod in the mail, but was disappointed when he opened the large box, only to see that the "rod sock" had not been included.  He notified the company, and they apologized for their oversight.  A few days later he received something better than the sock, they sent him a complimentary hard case for the 12' rod.  Now that's how to create a satisfied customer base!  I asked what he thought of the rod, as far as its workmanship and quality, and he was impressed with how it was put together, down to the detailing.  Better than either the Tica or Beach Runner, he thought.  He just had yet to see how it casts and fishes....

One of the things that attracted Ted to the rod in the first place, was the fact that it broke down into two equal six-foot sections -- unlike many other heavers, like the Tica and Beach Runner, which break down into unequal parts.  Two equal sections means easier packing for travel, since most fishermen aren't fortunate enough to live right on the beach.  And of course, a hard case means even less likely chance of the rod becoming damaged during transport.  The jury is still out, as to whether the rod can help Ted catch a fish, but I will let you know if it does....  He didn't have any luck up in Nantucket, but was very pleased with the action of the rod, none-the-less.
The Heavy Hooker series of surf rods:  "extraordinary yet affordable craftsmanship".  But can they help Ted catch a fish????
Here is a link to their website.  Check them out....  Just for their willingness to work with customers, I'd recommend them. 
stingraytackle.com

Tangent alert:  Since I'm telling a couple of old stories, and linking websites, I was reminded of this story.  A dozen years ago, or more, back in the early days of the internet -- after Al Gore had invented it, but while he was still Vice President -- I got a phone call from my fishing buddy Mark.  Mark had gone fishing in his boat from the York River, out into the Chesapeake Bay, and had caught a nice striped bass.  Upon his return to the marina, he took the fish to the local tackle shop and they snapped a photo of him and his fish and posted it on their website.  He called me up at work, and told me to go to old hooker.com if I wanted to see him and his fish.  I told him I would when I got a chance, but went back to work.  

Later in the day, I was over at my attorney friend, Randy's office.  Randy was a new attorney in town, working for a couple of well-established partners, and was still trying to make his mark in the community.  We got to talking about fishing, and I remembered what Mark had told me.  I told him to go to the website Mark had referred.  He did.  And all I can say, is Oldhooker.com was not an appropriate website... and NO I am NOT linking to it, here.  Use your imagination as to what kind of website you think it might be.  You're right.  And it wasn't pleasant....

After all kinds of shades of pink showed up, I started laughing hysterically.  Randy did not.  He was mortified.  Like many businesses, every website he logged into was recorded into a database.  And now he had to explain why he went to a pornographic one.  We called Mark, so that we could ask Mark to write a letter verifying what he was attempting.  When Mark was on the phone, we told him what happened.  He laughed and agreed to do it, but he had a story, too.  Apparently he had told his mother to go to the website if she wanted to see a photo of him doing what he loves.  I can only imagine what his mother thought as she logged into the porn site, looking for her son.  I'm thinking she didn't want to see him there.   

Yup, apparently Mark didn't know that there was an "s" -- "oldhookers.com".  But I'm still not linking you to that website.  I don't even think the tackle shop is still in business, so go there at your own risk.  It still makes for one heck of a funny story, though....  Oh, and Randy did eventually make partner.

So now as Columbus Day weekend is drawing to a close, I am excited that we are heading into the peak fall fishing season.  From now until year end, the fishing doesn't get any better.  The leaves are starting to turn color; there's a nip in the air at night; the humidity is gone; and the water is getting cooler -- ideal for fishing.  And while I will be targeting stripers from this point forward, when I go out in my kayak, I certainly won't turn up my nose at any speckled trout, flounder or puppy drum that may find my hook, too.

And while, much to my chagrin, "My Favorite Things" has now been turned into a Christmas song; I would say there is one Christmas song title I do agree with right now-- "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year".

Until next time (when hopefully I will be able to include a couple of new fish photos)...

Fish on!

Dan.

P.S.  I've had a few people ask me why my blog is named what it is, "Angling Participles".  Well, it's obviously a play on "dangling participles", which you should remember from your English Composition class.  A dangling participle is a phrase that is left hanging on a sentence that is misleading to the meaning of the sentence.

For Example, if I write, "Using my surf rod, I caught a striped bass.", one would know exactly what I meant.  However, if I write, "I caught a striped bass using my surf rod.", one might think that I was walking down the beach and I suddenly saw this striped bass standing on the shore, fishing with my rod!  That would be hilarious to see, to say the least -- let alone, kind of random.  And it certainly is unlikely!

"Using my surf rod" in that second sentence is a dangling participle.  If you have that in a composition paper, your English teacher would laugh at you, and mark that phrase in red ink, and take off points from your paper.  And then you might fail English, and have to repeat 10th grade.  And then you may get frustrated and drop out of school all together, and then you'd become a bum on the street who don't talk good English.  And we wouldn't want that.  Certainly not in this economic environment, anyway.  We want our bums speaking well....
Don't let your participles dangle.  Clean them up well, or this might happen....

"Angling Participles" is supposed to be somewhat humorous, and random, too.  Why else would you see an English lesson among a couple of anecdotes and endorsements....  Oh well, hope this helps... until next time.  I'm going to go catch a striper using my kayak....

(Hopefully you caught that....)