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August 31, 2012 6:45 PM
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KayakFisherman

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New York > Montauk > Somewhere between bemusement and anger
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The short report: Mtk Pt. on Wed night (late report). Bottom of outgoing. Huge moon. Winds from west at about 10, air temp 58 water temp 72. Water was sloppy; light chop, but lots of grass and slip gut. Massive bluefish bite gave way to big bass when the tide slowed. All caught on the plugs I had left…

The story… My favorite lure to troll is a $15 lure that's tied or clipped directly to the line, no leader. Without debating the merits of leaders, I believe it makes a difference, and over the years I've found that I only lose about one lure every 5 or 6 trips - The cost of doing business. They work, and it's worth it for me, so I bring two out with me to start (I have duplicate rods) and always have two stored as spares. I'd just restrung with fresh line in preparation for the fall run, and was feeling pretty confident about not getting break-offs. When I got to the Point, it was 11pm and low tide was supposed to be just after 1am. I hooked into a keeper bass almost immediately, so I tossed it back expecting more of the same. What I got, as depicted clearly on my depth recorder, was a perfect cross-section of what was happening out there; Chased to the top and leaving the water at every opportunity was an abundance of bait; I was seeing shiners and squid all over. In hot pursuit was a thick layer of 5-10lb bluefish… I mean THICK. And at the bottom, patiently feasting on the scraps, were some choice bass which were visibly bigger on the recorder than the fish above. The trick would be to get past the blues and down into the bass below. Harder than you might think.

1am came and went, and the tide was still running pretty hard. It was flat enough that I wasn't worried about drifting into the rip. It was very manageable. The water was boiling with action. The couple of boats that were there had left promptly at 1:00. I figured that maybe they limited out, with all the action, or were charters. In fact, the tide didn't slow until well after 2:30, and over those three hours I lost all four of my best lures. (cha-ching!). I was getting down to the bass, but it was costing me big time (by kayaker standards). I needed lures, I needed to take a leak, and I needed to re-think my strategy. I paddled back to my truck to relieve and reload. It was 3am, and I would need to get back home (about an hour and fifteen minutes away) by 6.

I had no more of the "special" lure, so I replaced them with smaller versions of the same lure. I'd move into shallower water, away from the mass of bluefish, and give it one more try. After all, this was precisely the time that I had been waiting for. As the tide is in the process of turning, you get - instead of a "rip"- these great swirls of current that weave themselves between the boulders. Perfect conditions for disorienting baitfish and enticing cows.

Now it's about 3 and I'm heading back out. Gone were the bluefish! I followed a 10-foot contour line on my GPS, and started toward the lighthouse. It hit right away. I felt it bite, and set the hook very solidly. Unlike smaller bass, a really big bass doesn't always react right away. When I set the hook hard, and the fish doesn't even budge… it's one of those "Oh sh**" moments. At that point, I have only about 15 seconds to get the kayak pointed toward the fish before it realizes that it's hooked and takes off like a freight train. I turned. It bolted. It headed northwest at first, and towed me for a few hundred feet before I could begin to get line back. Slowly, though, I caught up to it, until I was at my favorite part; I was directly above it. A very slow, steady pull will draw it to the surface - right beside the kayak - but then I usually need to let it make another run after it's seen the kayak. It's green still, and any mistake will set it off. I was bracing for that second run-off as I brought it up. I had it about 3 feet away, but it was acting like an anchor, and the kayak drifted a little too far over the line. As the fish rose, my line slipped behind my rudder and about the same second that I felt the line rubbing against the rudder, I felt it go completely slack. It was gone.

I wasn't "philosophical." I was pissed. I worked hard to put myself in a position to catch a big fish, connected with that fish, and then lost it with an amateur mistake. My Spro clips are about $3 each, so I'm now out about $90 in tackle, and I dropped a fish that I believe was in the 40lb class. I don't expect anyone to feel sorry for me. I've had my best season ever. I'm just recounting what happened and offering it up as an example of a night when it just wasn't meant to be.

Tonight I hope it's meant to be… because I'm going out there to nail that SOB.

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Fin Fish Electric blue Bony-fish Ray-finned fish


Caught whileI still had lures
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