Wow. 25 years. We're old. Twenty-five years of doing the same thing every November. We must be crazy. Or addicted. I choose to go with the latter. We also are nothing but a bunch of friends/family who enjoy being with each other. And while the premise of our weekend might be getting a line wet, the promise of the weekend is a great time of being with guys you love. And GREAT FOOD! On to the report.
The "Weekend" started Tuesday evening when Ted and Joel showed up -- Ted from Devon, PA, Joel from Anchorage, AK. As I know that Joel NEVER gets to eat salmon, (joke) I had hickory smoked sockeye with a pecan and raspberry honey mustard glaze, waiting for dinner, with a nice Russian River Pinot Noir. Parke joined us for dinner, and it was a fine start to the festivities. Then, we got our rods and prepped them for the next several days' worth of activities.
The next morning, we got up and went off for a little kayak fishing before a serious weather front was supposed to move in. The wind was going to pick up, but as the tide was coming in, hopefully we'd be okay for a couple hours. We got out on the water and the fishing began. Long story short: over the next couple hours the only thing caught was a 12" speckled trout by Ted. Still, it was his first speck ever. But knowing we were going to need some dinner, we looked down into the shallows and saw no shortage of beautiful oysters. We picked up just enough for a good appetizer, and paddled to shore as the winds picked up.
|Ted and me casting for trout or rockfish in a tributary of the Nansemond. No luck this time, but at least we got to enjoy some oysters for dinner. So we did have seafood two nights in a row.|
I put some charcoal on the grill, got the coals ready, then we enjoyed some fresh steamed oysters with butter, hotsauce and cocktail sauce. Delicious. And with a couple of beers, I was reminded of Jimmy Buffett's song, "Tin Cup Chalice". "Give me oysters and beer, for dinner every day of the year, and I'll be fine." We were fine. We went inside, finished working on our gear and got packed. It was a good day.
|"Tin cup Chalice" and "Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season" are two awesome songs on Jimmy Buffett's old album, A-1-A. You don't have to be a Parrothead to appreciate them.|
We stopped by TW's, picked up bait, and hit the beach at Oregon Inlet. It was windy, but the rain had finally come to an end. It was supposed to clear off, but be cold that night and the next day. While the water had been clear and perfect the last few days for trout, it was now muddy and choppy. We could only hope it wasn't too muddy for bait fish -- and puppy drum. I wasn't holding my breath.
Now last year when we were down on Hatteras, there was "Percy the pelican", who was so used to being around people that we could hand feed him. Well, apparently Percy is not alone. It wasn't long before another pelican came walking up to us on Oregon Inlet, for a snack. We named him Pavlov, because he was so well educated he would drool and walk up to us every time we walked over and opened one of our coolers. Unfortunately for him, we were hitting the beer cooler harder than the bait cooler. Still, he stuck around for a while. But this bird did please our resident ornithologist, Dr. Joel.
|Joel and Pavlov both had to squint to keep the whipping sand from getting in their eyes. We all got exfoliated quite nicely on Thursday from the sand. I found it in my ears later, too.|
Then, while talking to some of the other guys, my rod wiggled while it was sitting in my sand spike. Fortunately, Jeff was standing right by it to make sure the fish was still on. It was. Fish ON! I got the rod and had a nice fight on hand. I wasn't sure it was a drum until it went on a couple of runs, taking drag. But having watched Mike last month fight a skate, while thinking it might be a striper, I wasn't saying a thing.
|Fighting my first fish with my new StingRay Tackle Heavy Hooker rod, I wasn't sure how big it was, as I had nothing to gauge it by. All I knew so far, was that the rod could handle whatever it was.|
Finally after one last run, the fish was in the surf. Fortunately, my big brother Ted (who always feels compelled to run over and help whenever I catch a nice fish -- Cayuga Lake 8lb. lake trout anyone? My first big striped bass down on Hatteras out on the shoals? Just to name a couple....) came over and grabbed the fish (after I had already beached it.) It was safe.... And it was a nice redfish! Yeah!
|What would I do without my big brother, who catches the fish I catch....|
|Jerry, Mark, me and Hannibal Lector, all catching up on what's going on in our lives -- while we wait for another rod to bend and wiggle.|
|Wait, that's not Hannibal Lector sampling his "Chiaannti and fava beans", but Jeff with a beer. But, boy was it cold.|
|See, there is a difference. The real Hannibal wasn't freezing his @$$ off.|
But just before the sun went down, Ted's rod wiggled. And he brought in a dogfish. You know it's a slow day when I mention that Ted caught a dogfish.
|The last fish of the day finished our "Dog Day Afternoon" of my 1 red drum, and a few dogfish.|
|Sunset at Oregon Inlet on Thursday was beautiful. Shortly after dark, it was time to go home and make dinner.|
|Mark wasn't so sure after all that he wanted to share the Rare Breed bourbon. But he was "busted" pocketing it, and had to share it, after all. It was the first bottle emptied.|
|Okay, they weren't ALL bourbons that we sampled. The 15 year old Glenlivet and the 1800 tequila were a nice change from the bourbon. Don't worry, nobody made it through more than three a night.|
|Dinner was a Brazilian pork loin, closely shaved with herbs and spices, rice and beans and a nice California red blend wine. Then it was back to the bourbon and a football game on television... I think.|
|Our flag was really whipping in the wind. In fact, it was making so much noise that it got annoying after a while, and we had to lower it just to have a little peace and quiet.|
|The most exercise Jerry did was this cast early Friday morning. Then, I think, he slept and consumed the rest of the weekend. (Not really Heather, that's a joke.)|
|Just a few of the thousands of cormorants and sea birds we saw flying to and fro on Friday around Oregon Inlet. I'm glad we didn't have to count them....|
|Pavlov comes in for a landing, looking to refuel on fish heads....|
|Pavlov was as well trained as any dog, but we couldn't get him to roll over and play dead.|
|After Ted had scared him off once, Pavlov was looking for a way to get even.... A peck on the butt, perhaps???|
As we stayed on the beach for a while, however, we realized that there was nothing happening here. So we moved to the channel of Oregon Inlet to see if that was any better. It was beautiful, as the sun was out now; but it was still cold. Unlike last year, however, we couldn't cast all the way to the high rise part of the Bonner Bridge. Hurricane Irene had completely rearranged the sands. The channel looked good, however, but between the current and the grass, our 8 oz. weights couldn't hold bottom. 80 oz. might have worked.
|Is Joel bringing a Blue Marlin? No, just fighting the current and grass, as he's reeling in. It was time to move on, again.|
Just like last year, Oregon Inlet and the channel were unfishable because of grass. So we moved to Coquina beach, hoping like last year that water was clean of grass. It was. But the fishing was still slow. Real slow.
|The fishing was slow, and Jerry was tired. after all, he actually cast his rod once.... But at least he wasn't snoring.|
The beach at Coquina is narrow in places, but it's scalloped with holes and sloughs in the surf, if you know what you're looking for. But no fish were to be found today. Having said that, when you looked down from one of the dunes, I must admit if I was a Ford Motor Company executive, I would have been very pleased with what I saw. Every vehicle we had on the beach there, was a Ford SUV or Pick up.
|Coquina beach was like a Ford commercial this afternoon. But the fish were camera shy, and stayed away.|
|You don't need to drag your corn hole game to the beach. Just do what I did. It's just as fun, and plays the same way. And you leave it behind when you're finished. There's no clean up involved....|
Knowing that Parke was coming down later that day, and knowing that tomorrow would be a long day down at the Point in Buxton, we called it an early day Friday, and were home before dark. We cleaned out the cars, and prepared our equipment for the next day. Then we prepared another tremendous meal, as we waited for Parke to join us.
Appetizers were steamed Chincoteague oysters, sprinkled with shaved gruyere cheese on top and a jalapeno pepper slice. It was certainly not the way I'd ever prepared them before, but it was delicious! Then for dinner we had a massive Prime Rib, seasoned perfectly, and grilled to perfection with some Cabernet Sauvignon. Man, we eat well on this trip. Parke made it just in time for dinner, and we feasted.
Then Mark had to go. AND IT WAS THE SECOND YEAR IN A ROW WHERE HE WAS SKUNKED. (We thought the boy knew how to fish, but apparently he has forgotten how, and was too embarrassed to stick around for any more humiliation.)
After Mark left, it was time for another round of the bourbon tastings, and football, then an early bedtime.
The next morning we were awake by 4:45 and on the road heading south to Hatteras as soon as we could get everyone up and at 'em. It still was after sunrise by the time we reached the Point, but the day was going to be beautiful -- sunny and warmer. We were ready for some warmth!
It wasn't long before we hooked up with fish... Unfortunately, they were dogfish. But Mike caught a big one. It's just a shame they don't count for "points" for the teams.
|If you could get a citation for a dogfish, this one may qualify. Still, it was NO POINTS for the Blue Team.|
We watched in amazement, as he fought this fish that had to weigh a few hundred pounds, and then "snap", his line broke. He was upset and walked away, but the shark took its time in the surf for the next several minutes, regaining its strength and energy before swimming off into the deep again. It was quite a sight to see. One I won't forget anytime soon.
|The long, laid back tail is a dead giveaway for a hammerhead, if you're not able to see the distinct head. It was an impressive fish, and I was happy to see it swim away safely.|
Meanwhile, after a busy night cooking, Jeff was ready to do what he wanted to do.... Catch up on some sleep. He deserved it for the past couple of dinners.
|A warm day. A comfortable chair. And no agenda or schedule. It's nice to have nothing to do at the moment on BW. Sleep well, Jeff, you earned it with those gourmet meals....|
It seems there is always a hazard on the Point that snags your hook and breaks your line. Once you learn where it is, you just don't cast exactly there again. But when I watched one guy lose a couple rigs in a row to the same spot, I leaned over to Parke and told him that the definition of stupid is doing the same thing again and again, and expecting a different result. Apparently I didn't say it quietly enough, because the guy on the other side of my heard me, and started laughing, having witnessed the same thing. Sure enough, on my next cast, I caught the snag and lost my rig. But only the one time....
|A slalom course of heavers marked the tide line of the beach, as Ted weaved his way through the graphite forest to cast his own rod into the mix just north of the Point.|
|As the day progressed, the Point filled up with more trucks. But still, because bait was scarce at the tackle shops, there weren't that many trucks. There have been years when it looks like an SUV parking lot with hundreds of vehicles.|
|Of course, no day at Cape Point is complete, unless you take a photo of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Maybe they should paint it red and white at Christmas, like a candy cane.|
|Parke with one of the dozen or more blues he caught at the Point.|
|Two generations enjoying the beauty of the Point... and it was only going to get more beautiful. And I'm not talking about the fishing. But that place is just an awesome place to witness God's glory and creation.|
|Percy's friend had learned his tricks, and was also quite adept at catching fish heads.|
|Percy and his friend had the same trick mastered as Pavlov had. Catching hand tossed fish heads and tails.|
|They could even do a "double" together.|
|Well, Percy got picky, and didn't like this piece I dropped. I guess they eat too well there at the Point.|
|Of course, after everyone was well fed on brisket or fish heads, it was time for a good smoke.|
|Of course Jeff and Jerry were doing what they do best. And that's NOT catching fish....|
|As the sun began to set, a few more fishermen wandered down to the Point. Parke, Joel, Ted and I were among them. The "Blue Team" was content sitting and drinking.|
|Of course, if the size of the fish caught is shrinking, then maybe sitting isn't a bad thing... Here's Parke doing his Mike Jackson imitation from Fenwick. But this blue was much bigger than Mike's.|
|A beautiful shot of the sun setting, while I'm bringing in yet, another taylor bluefish.|
|Sunset at the Point. One of the few places on the East Coast where you can watch the sun rise and set over the ocean. Simply beautiful.|
|Me, Parke and Ted at the Point with our new rods and a couple of taylor blues, as we watched the sun set. After dark it would get interesting....|
|Fishermen lined up at the Point after the sun has gone down. The only thing missing were the big drum|
|From the East side to the South, to the West side, the fishermen were waiting for a bite. There are days and nights when the drum are running, that the fishermen are shoulder to shoulder, forming a "conga line". This was not one of them.|
|I went back to the trucks only to realize that Jerry had awakened!|
|After it was dark, it was time for the fire. We all sat around, sharing stories and laughing. Good ol' male bonding at its finest.|
|No, the other one.|
|To see the Milky Way with no ambient light around, is amazing. Add to it the remnants of the Leonid meteor showers, which had peaked a couple nights earlier, and it was hard NOT to keep your eyes on the heavens in awe.|
Ted and I walked back to the group and told them what we saw. We all rigged up and went down to the Point. As did a parade of cars and other fishermen. By the time we were in the water, there were well over a dozen guys fishing down there. It's amazing how quickly other fishermen smell when fish might be around....
Having said that, while we were fishing, Parke and I were admiring the constellations around us. Orion awoke and rose from his slumber under the ocean to the east, while Cassiopeia was directly overhead. Then Parke pointed out some of the constellations he knew, and confirmed them with his I-Phone sky app. It was quite an impressive sky.
|Parke shared with me how Orion killed Taurus the bull.|
|How the "ancients" ever saw a queen on a throne, by what I see as a "lazy 'w'" simply amazes me. But I guess when smoking funny weeds was legal, and there was no television, the imagination really took over, and their tales grew.|
Florence & the Machine, SNL performance of Shake It Out
|"A beautiful redheaded 6 foot Amazon", Ted called her, with an amazing voice.|
Needing some fresh bait, Parke put on my waders, grabbed my casting net, and showed off his fine form throwing a net -- unfortunately, there were no baitfish or finger mullet around.
|A perfectly thrown casting net yielded no bait fish, as the waters were completely empty of life at the moment. Still, he looked good doing it.|
|Pavlov realized he needed to adjust his breakfast and get it going the right way. But first he decided to suck on it for a while.|
While it was a beautiful day, and we gave it our best efforts, there was nothing to catch, as there was nothing but one pod after another of dolphins swimming, splashing, jumping and surfing in the waves. But the only fish we saw were a few small bait fish close in the surf -- after Parke put the casting net away, and we had bought more bait.
|It wasn't for lack of effort that we didn't catch fish. But eventually you have to realize it is a wasted effort.|
|When the fishing wasn't there, we all just chilled and enjoyed the beautiful day.|
|While we didn't fish until the cows came home, we did fish well after the horses came by. But then we'd had enough and reluctantly pulled up our lines.|
|When we got back to the "Reel Family" cottage, we cleaned the trucks, the cottage, and our equipment. Then we all embraced and parted ways, already talking about the next year -- and the next 25 years.|
So, with that said, the RED TEAM kicked the Blue Team's butt. Parke was the Runner Up Master Angler, and I was the Angler of the weekend, primarily for that first and only redfish. The Worst Fisherman of the weekend -- for the third year in a row was Mark. He's been skunked two years in a row, and only caught a couple fish on Sunday the year before. Maybe he should stick around a little longer. (Hint, hint.)
Until next time, I love you guys! Thanks for making this and every year so special -- regardless of our success. You all mean the world to me.
Ted and Joel left early Monday morning. Early Tuesday morning I had the opportunity to go kayak fishing for an hour. My first cast in the channel where I had taken Ted and Joel, I caught this beautiful striper. It was 27.25" long and weighed 9 lbs. 5 oz. It was the second largest striper I've caught there, and the third largest I've caught in a kayak. It gave me a wonderful Nantucket Sleigh Ride, and was almost too big for my net. It figures that he wasn't around just a few days earlier, when Ted or Joel could have had a chance to catch him. Oh well, I guess that's the sign that Boys' Weekend is over -- when everybody is gone, and we locals start catching fish again. I guess that's the advantage of living in God's Country.
|This beauty was the biggest striper we've caught in our section of the river this year. I'm just glad I had the chance to get out there for an hour. He'll be a delicious dinner for several hungry people.|