Okay, moving on.
"Guinea-Bunkport": The stretch of beach along the mouth of the York River, that the Douglas Family dominates with their cottages. A play on Kennebunkport, the city in Maine where President George H.W. Bush had a summer home that the whole Bush family would visit. Similar to Hyannis Port, MA, home of the famous Kennedy Compound. Mark came up with the term. It's clever. I'll grant him that.
Now, we can proceed. But first, click this link to learn a little something about brother Jimmy Buffett, and listen to this wonderful, classic song. Jimmy Buffett: Come Monday
I haven't gone away for Labor Day in years.... That's why I started this blog a couple years ago. I was home, with nothing to do, so why not? I haven't even gone away for the last few Memorial Day or Independence Day Weekends, either. So when I was finally given the opportunity to join my buddy Mark and his family at their cottage on the mouth of the York, I happily jumped at the chance. But first, Friday night there was a football game. And more importantly, there were cheerleaders. And most importantly, there was one of the captains of the cheer squad. And I had to go watch her.... I would join Mark and his family in the morning.
|Are you ready for some cheering?! Sheldon leading a cheer for the first football game of the year.|
|As the evening set, the game got better... But the cheering was always great! Yeah, I'm a proud dad.|
|The cheers were fun, led by their great captains. The football team lost a heartbreaker. Was glad that it's football season. That means it's late summer. And late summer is some of the best fishing.... Oh year. Back to the story.|
|Attach this popper about 3 feet above your light jig with a Gulp, and you have a great way to attract puppy drum and trout. They worked so well, I'm going to try one on the river where we kayak fish....|
When the boat was loaded with fishing gear, we headed out for the shallows, inlets, and grassy shores near by. Several small pups, a small speckled trout, and even a small striper were caught by us with our light rods and "poppers", but then it was time to cross the river to go flounder fishing.
All summer long, I have been asking Mark how the flounder fishing was where we go. "There are none there," was his reply. "They haven't arrived yet". "Nobody's catching any", had been his responses.
Have you gone yet? I asked.
"No. My uncle goes there, and says they haven't caught any. They're not there".
"Well, they're just waiting for me to show up." I had been telling him, joking when we spoke. We'll go when I come." I was there.
We approached the pilings in the boat, and I got my rod ready. Mark slowed the boat down, and as we came to a stop near the pilings, I cast my jig. And waited. The current was moving well. I twitched my jig once. Waited. Twitched it again, and my rod stayed down.
"Dangit!" I said, "I've got a snag."
Then I felt a head shake. It was a fish. A flounder, I could tell.
"Mark, get the f(iretr)ucking net! This is a fish." I kept reeling in, and then saw the green water turn brown as a doormat flounder came near the surface. "Get the f(iretr)ucking net!" Mark complied.
A minute later we were high-fiving, with a beautiful flounder meal awaiting us in the cooler.
|This flounder was no fluke. I knew I was going to catch him all summer long. I just needed to get to the pilings and cast once. Almost 24 inches long, it was bigger than the one I caught here last year.|
"Mark, does your uncle love you?" I asked. "Because either he's been lying to you, or he doesn't know how to fish."
"Oh, he knows how to fish," he responded, defensively. (All Douglas's fish and hunt very well.) I looked at him, eyebrows raised. The alternative wasn't any better in my opinion, I laughed.
"Well, he doesn't fish as close to the pilings as we are."
Okay, Mark. (Smirk.)
We fished a while longer, and Mark caught a few fish... but oyster toads don't count, so no, he really didn't. Of course, I caught one, too. And mine was a "citation" toad.... Man they're nasty. But Mark is still the oyster toad king.
|Fortunately the 2 boats fishing near us, only saw us catch these guys... and not the large flounder that was safely in the cooler. We finally had enough, and crossed the river back to the other side, back to the family.|
"Goose," I said, "I think we need to buzz the tower".
"Okay, Mav", said Mark. We had earned it. I took the flounder out of the cooler, and we zoomed the boat by and up to the pier. No coffee was spilled, but there were a lot of oohs and aahs at the fish.
Top Gun Fly By parody
We then popped for pups along the pilings there, catching a few more, and then joined everyone on the pier.
Saying my hellos to all the family, and a kiss for his mom, we then enjoyed a cold beverage or two, ourselves, while farther down the pier, some of the oysters that they had farmed now for more than a year, were being put to good use -- on the charcoal grill. And they were delicious! Especially with a little sharp cheese and sauce...
|After eating more than my share of these delicious and surprisingly salty oysters, I'm the one that felt like a toad, or pig, at least.|
|Proud of his fish? You bet he is! There was no shortage of small pups around the docks and pilings... a very good sign of things to come in a couple years, hopefully, when these fish reach "keeper size", so we can blacken some.|
|Red drum are a beautiful fish, shimmering with colors. I can't wait until all these guys are 18-26" long, so we can keep a couple to blacken. YUM. Especially with a nice Russian River Pinot Noir. Now I'm drooling.|
Then it was time for football. The Alabama Crimson Tide v. Michigan Wolverines? Well, we watched that for a minute, but the Tide was rolling the maize and blue, so we went to the game that mattered for Mark's family: Clemson v. Auburn. Their daughter goes to Clemson and was at the Georgia Dome watching the game. The Orange and White was on everybody in the family as we sat down to watch the game. And I'm realizing, it was coincidently on me, too, in the photo above. (But by gametime I had changed into khaki shorts. It was a happy evening when Clemson held on to beat the Tigers, or I honestly think I would have had to leave early.... Then it was off to bed.
The next morning, I had a light breakfast of scrambled eggs with a homemade bean salsa (delicious), and then was told, we were going to his mother's for breakfast. There, it was a delicious meal for those not concerned about their weight. French toast so sweet that you dare not add syrup, and bacon and sausage so abundant, I think they counted on three pieces for each of the 20 that were there. I knew I wasn't going to eat again until dinner.
So we loaded up the boat and hit the water again. Once again, we caught a lot of small fish, but there was something different today,
As we rode along the river, we could see a change in the water... a red tide had come into the river. That's never good, as it chases the fish away, or they die.
|It wasn't Alabama's Crimson Tide that had just steamrolled the University of Michigan, that rolled up and into the York River....|
|But it was a red tide... an algae bloom that sucks the life out of the river. Fish swim away, or they die. And the tide went to the flounder fishery.... Dang it.|
When we finally called it a day, we returned to the cottage. We could only hope that the tides and current would wash the red tide away before tomorrow's fishing.
Time to enjoy another bottle of wine and prepare the flounder! But first we sat on the deck, enjoying a nice glass of wine, while watching a thunderstorm roll down the York... Very peaceful.
How to prepare that fish: Fried? Heck no! Not this beauty! He's too big to justify frying. So Mark sprinkled some paprika and red cayenne, a little garlic, lemon slices, and we put the fillets on the broiler pan coated with olive oil, and broiled that baby. With salad and a little left over pasta, the Pinot Grigio, and all I can say was YUM. It was worth the wait.
A night of good conversation ensued, while more rain fell softly, and we went to bed by 11.
The next day, it was more of the same. Fortunately, the rain had moved on, for now, however. We took the boat out and about, but unfortunately, the red tide was still here, there, and everywhere we went. We'd caught enough small pups to hold us for a while, so we finally called it quits and went back to the cottage. I got out to drive his truck over to the ramp to bring the boat in. We did, and then it was time to clean. And clean we did! Boat, motor, house, laundry -- and of course, ALL of our fishing equipment. That cottage and everything else was spotless by the time we left.
I was getting ready to leave, however, when I felt bad for Mark. Once again, I had out fished him. I caught the big flounder, and the biggest (albeit, still not legal) puppy drum of the weekend... and he was in danger of becoming just a good boat captain. A familiar face whom you recognize on the street, but don't know from where... in fishing circles.... Kind of like one of those "That Guy" actors, like Hank Azaria. Where somebody points him out, and you go, "Oh yeah, I know him... what'd he do?" Just not the lead character who is the hero of the day, by catching the food for the tribe....
I'm sure Mark will recover. He always does....
After saying my goodbyes, it was time to hit the road. First day of school was tomorrow, and I had to get home to get things ready for that. But I wondered when I'd be returning here again. It's always peaceful, and the fishing (at least for me, ha ha) is always fun and productive. It wouldn't be anytime too soon, however. I knew that. Football games and obligations would keep the Douglas' away for a while, and I had obligations as well. And this being the peak of Hurricane Season, you never know what's going to happen on the East Coast that will affect the fishing -- let alone, wreak havoc. Sure enough, Tropical Storms Leslie and Michael had both formed.... Here's to hoping they cause no damage.
Until next time, whenever that may be...
P.S. I'm sure by now you're wondering what Hank Azaria looks like. He's this "That guy".
|Voices on "the Simpsons" and countless movie/t.v. appearances, Hank Azaria is one of the quintessential "That Guy" actors, in my opinion. He probably is a better fisherman than Mark, though. But definitely NOT a better boat captain...|