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

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....)

1 comment:

  1. Good post! Love the "OldHooker" story...
    Looking forward to adding some stories/pictures from Fenwick and OBX!!!

    ReplyDelete