The last time I smelled salt air was when Jim and I crossed Waquoit Bay on the way home from the Bone Clave two weeks ago. Normally it would be almost unheard of for me to miss a salty weekend in the fall let alone two in a row. Various unusual factors, among which rattlesnakes and auto repairs are promenent, have combined with a very productive early fall to give me a more relaxed attitude towards what is by far my most intense fishing of the season.
That's not to say however that I can just go fishless for two weeks in the fall without consequence!
A timely invite to scout the extreme low water in our local pike river was just the medicine the doctor ordered.
We launched yesterday early afternoon at a deserted ramp which was kinda spooky after the usual shenanigans of Sunday a-noons at that spot. We soon realized it was the extreme low water which was keeping the bass boats and pleasure cruisers off the river. Places where we frequently see big boats blow through at high speed were less than a foot deep. We saw logs and rocks we've gone by dozens of times and never knew about. We even hit something ourselves going all out in a canoe with a 30lb thrust trolling motor. Almost dumped it!
The good side, besides the nonexistent boat traffic was seeing the river and banks at what amounts to low tide. We found holes and channels and dropoffs we never knew about even with sonar.
After a dire forcast and dreary start the day turned out beautiful. Some of the trees are in full flame while others are still green while some of the underbrush is withered brown from thirst. There was barely any breeze to disperse the wonderfull earthy smell of exposed mud flats and new fallen leaves.
Bird migration is in full force with raptors getting most of our attention. Several ospreys were observed as well as the usual turkey vultures and redtails. Broadwing hawks were spotted several times riding thermals waaay up there. A few coopers hawks cruised by, flying the treeline trying to flush foolish song birds. The best sighting was a merlin, a small falcon which we saw twice. The second time we saw it, it chased a bluejay into some thick brush. Immediately a great rucus of screeching jays erupted and the merlin popped back out of the brush with a flock of a dozen irate bluejays hot on his tail!
The Federal Wildlife Refuge had recently reflooded the great meadow in time for the migrating water fowl and the sound of ducks and geese quaking and honking was the background music to the adventure [my buddy claimed they were laughing at his fishing skills. I made no comment
I had opted to flyfish despite a screaming case of tennis elbow. My buddy is exclusivley a spin fisher. The amazing thing to me was the fact that I cast huge deerhail bugs all afternoon with very little discomfort. It dawned on me that my relaxed, slowed down, low key short casts were the opposite of the teeth grinding high speed intensity of the albie fishing I've been doing for a month and a half. It was really a pleasure to just be cool and causually work the shoreline without really even caring if I got a hit. It was enlightening to note that my casts were much better and more efficient. I never got a wind knot all day!
Eventually the sun fell and a chill settled which signaled the end of our journey. The sunset was pastel pink and smokey mist rose from the water undisturbed by a breeze. Several beaver marked our passing with loud tail slaps and numerous great blue herons stalking the shallows rose squaking and croaking. For the hundredth time we noted their similarity to those big flying dinosaurs.
we reached the ramp after dark and loaded the vehicles silently each lost in contemplation of a day well spent and the returning rat race of the next day. I hit the road just in time for the start of the blues program on the radio. I drove home with a smile and never thought once about albies.
Oh in case any one was curious, the final tally was a half a dozen bass to three pounds and a small pike for the flyrod and a fat goose egg for the plugger.