This time it was me that took a beating.. - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 09-21-2003, 06:20 PM
mikez mikez is offline
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This time it was me that took a beating..

...at Watch Hill.
Saturday evening I returned to the scene of last week's action. As soon as I started walking down the access road, I could see big pods of bait from the top of the hill. As I walked down, a guy leaving told me there fish everywhere. Oh, this is gonna be good!

When I reached the bottom of the hill, I ran in to my friend Big John the Silent Lurker. We stood and chatted while I kept one eye on the bait pod. When the only other fisherman nearby hooked up, we joined the fun. Right off the bat I hooked a schoolie on my flyrod, just to prove it could be done. Then I switched to the plugin rod to get the extra distance. What followed was at least an hour of fairly steady pick of good sized bass averaging in the high 20 to low 30 inch range. I did land one that went 36 or better but released it without measuring. There were only 3 of us in the area which was nice because the point was packed. They must have been doing good there as well since nobody wandered over to get in our action.

After dark, John said he was leaving so I walked back with him. I was having trouble with my plugin reel and wanted to take it apart anyway. Well, we got to talking and I forgot to fix my reel. When I got back to the water the reel had gone totally belly up.
No problem since it was one of those rare nights when the wind was calm, the surf reasonable and good sized bass were feeding in close. In short a rare night when Watch Hill Light was ideal for flycasting.

Or so I thought! I didn't take into account one thing - the bass were too big! I was fishing at the base of the steep rock breakwater and landing fish was dicey with good sized swells rolling over me when I went down to grab a fish. You had to be able to really haul the fish up into a convienent spot to grab it without being crushed. Problem was, the fish were all 30 inches and up and my 9 weight wasn't up to the task of winching them over the rocks.
I hooked several good fish and landed about four in the 30 - 34 inch range. Then I hooked a really good one. I'm standing high up on this big slippery rock with six foot swells crashing over my feet in the pitch dark and I have just felt my backing knot go through the eyelets This is gonna be interesting!
I played tug o' war with this fish for several minutes and finally got it more or less under control. Now I have to figure out how to land it. To be honest, I really wish somebody else was there to see my antics for the next few minutes. I won't even bother trying to describe it. Suffice it to say I was soaking wet, bruised and battered in short order. I've seen the fish in my flashlight beam and I estimated it at about 40 inches. Finally, with the fish totally spent and me close to it [being spent I mean], the leader has snagged out of my reach, close to the head of the fish. Try as I might I can't free it with out getting pummeled. The fish is pretty much dead weight. At last a particularly big wave rolls in and the backwash pulls the fish and snaps the leader.
I wasn't even bummed, just relieved it was over. I did feel bad for the fish. I hoped he revived.
By now I'm soaked head to toe, scraped bloody, black and blue and exhausted. I know there are still fish out there but I can't bare to go through that again. So I walked away!
I got in my car, drove over to Weekapoug where I planned to grab a few hours rest and promptly crashed till after 7:00 AM. Never saw a fish the rest of the day.
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  #2  
Old 09-21-2003, 10:11 PM
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striblue striblue is offline
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Rocks and jetties..... very difficult if not imposible to land a large fish on a fly rod ( or a spinning rod for that matter)...Great report Mike.
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Old 09-22-2003, 01:39 AM
Moron_Saxatilis Moron_Saxatilis is offline
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I was down there on wednesday during the day. I landed ~36" fish on a spinning rod which was difficult in the swell. Then I almost killed myself trying to release it. I had to scurry up and down several times before I got a wave to take it away.
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Old 09-22-2003, 06:03 AM
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juro juro is offline
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Mike -

Curious, was it more difficult to land the fish because:

1) the rod is not powerful enough to move the fish to you?

2) the rod is too short?

3) the lower handle of the spin rod provides additional leverage to move the fish?

or other reasons?

I think I have a fly rod that can reach the fish, handle the fish, move the fish and land them as well as most spin rods. I think we need to have a little trial night.
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Old 09-22-2003, 08:23 AM
Eddie Eddie is offline
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thanks for sharing the epic fishing story.
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  #6  
Old 09-22-2003, 10:28 AM
mikez mikez is offline
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Juro,
It was definately the inability to drag the fish against the in and out motion of the waves while manuvering the fish into a trough which you can scramble into without getting killed. Normally I time it so I drag the fish up with an incoming wave and strand it till I can run down and grab it. The rocks were too steep, the waves too big and the fish too heavy for that technique. Even with a surf rod it would have tough but I would have had the backbone to horse the fish into a favorable location.

I will say that I have landed plenty of fish that size with the same rod in other places including from other rocks at the lighthouse. I was just in a particulaly tough spot and the surf was just a tad bigger than practical. On the other hand, it was the size of the surf which created the whitewater which brought the fish within reach. They rarely come that close when it's calm.
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Old 09-22-2003, 10:41 AM
mikez mikez is offline
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PS Juro,
I don't agree that my nine weight and my surf rod can pull/lift the same weight. If you hung a 3 0z cast master from the tip of my FR, the tip would hit the ground. It baley bends my surf rod. Hauling that fish had my rod bent into a U shape and it felt like it was gonna snap. All things being equal, I can land fish of equal size on both but it takes alot longer and conditions have to be right for the flyrod. For instance there are places where there a alot of boulders out further where the hooked fish will into. I can horse them out with my surf rod but will lose them and maybe a flyline with the long rod. Believe me, I 've proved that the hard way.
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Old 09-22-2003, 12:06 PM
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juro juro is offline
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Just to be clear, I asked only because I am curious on whether the same surf manhandling ability I've experienced all season with the two-hander in sandy beaches would have applied to your situation, not because I am questioning anything whatsoever about what you were doing. In fact I've been chicken sh*t and stayed away from rocky surf, your success speaks for itself!

The bigger of the two rods is an 11 foot 11/12wt, where 12 wt feels easy to cast for the average adult male for hours on end once the stroke is down. The rod has probably half or less of the deflection under load of a large fish that a typical single handed fly rod has, although that's anecdotal and non-scientific. Also, when you reach for a fish with the "surftamer" the tip is never in danger of popping, whereas a single handed rod's tip is always at risk in the red zone even on a flat at mid-day. The butt of the rod, although it will flex, is significantly more stout and I am convinced it will move the biggest striper one could hope to hook on a fly given the chance and a heavy tippet. I wanna find out

I've had the opportunity to validate up to 40+" ~30# class fish thus far but I am anxious to get over that this fall. Even the smaller 10' 9" 9/10 moved a solid fish very easily in the big girl bar current in a recent "field test". The fight was much more relaxed than the many battles I've had in that same raging current, and I ended up landing the fish only 20 feet from where I hooked it as opposed to times when I've had to walk 50-75 yards after fish the same size.

Schoolies are less exciting on these rods, like surf rods, but then again I'm not sure I need to get a thrill from schoolies after late April / early May anyway when the winter shack nasties need a shake off session. The informed angler also knows that while the schoolies have invaded in spring, the big fish migration is getting into full swing on the big beaches so there are choices even then to be made that could put a big bend in a big stick.

Anyway, I was just curious. I think I will take a shot at some more tricky spots to see if there is a power advantage. I've been fishin' my candy a** in sandy spots all season!
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Old 09-22-2003, 02:38 PM
mikez mikez is offline
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For the record, I've landed 40 inch class stripers from sandy beaches with good swells and in the strong current of the Merrimac on the same 9 weight Sage. There is no comparison in terms of difficulty compared to the specific spot I was in Sat night. On the other hand, there are rocks I could have been standing on at the lighthouse where I could have landed the same fish in the same surf. Trouble is I doubt I could have revived the fish let alone release it. Although it's not a problem I face often, there seems to be a practical limit to what I can do with that rod. Problem is I tried to do the job of the surf caster with a flyrod. Maybe when my ship comes in I'll try one of those big rods.
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