My in laws live right next to the sea in Rhode Island. Many a time I’ve coerced my father in law and husband to take me fishing off the dock near them. And while they’ve pulled fish in by the bucket off that dock when I wasn’t there, in all my nearly dozen times fishing with them, we’ve never so much as had a strike. I have therefore accused my father in law of pulling a great hoax off on me — that there are no fish in the Atlantic Ocean.
Apparently, after two years worth of father’s day cards making this point, he got tired of it. He scheduled a charter fishing boat with a friend of his.
Thus it was that I found myself awake and drinking coffee at the ungodly hour of 5:00 am. I was astonished to find that the sun actually rises about that time of morning in June. I chalked it up to stuff I would have been happy never knowing first hand. Mike, Adam, Peter and I sped along, groggily in the New England morning, to a point as far away from their house as any two points in Rhode Island can possibly be. We arrived at Port Judith at 6:15.
Our boat for the day was to be the Twenty-Five — a capable 20 footer, captained by Craig and mated by Dean. While we passed up the chance to bet them about whether or not I’d get skunked (the way I figure it we’d already placed a $400 bet on that), we laid a friendly wager that Adam and I would catch more fish than Peter and Mike. (We tied)
The day was absolutely gorgeous — sunny with a blue sky and a brisk wind over the waters. Although the weather report called for highs in the 80s, in the cool of the morning we were glad for our long pants and jackets. It was a day tailor-made for fishing with one’s family.
The first place we fished, we brought in only one fish. Pete’s line was wrapped around its tail, but my bait was in its mouth. We judged it a tie, although Pete had gotten the fun of reeling him in. He was a sand shark — a theoretically endangered species that absolutely infested the waters off Block Island. We threw him and the rest of his brethren we pulled up back in. We constantly lost our bait to these menaces. Sometimes they’d nibble at it, so we’d start reeling in, and unhooked they’d follow our bait in and jump at it as we pulled it out of the water. We weren’t there long until we moved to a section of water other people seemed to be having luck in. As Mike so aptly put it, the allies had fewer boats invading on D-Day.
The current was strong, so we’d start at one spot, pass through a band of many fish, and then pass out of it and have to motor back to our original starting point. Peter brought in two beautiful striped bass, which I was highly impressed with. They were apparently average bass, though, to judge from our guides responses. I was green with jealousy. Then Adam got a strike. They thought it might be another sand shark, since it didn’t fight like a bass. But as they brought it up… it was a trophy flounder. And by trophy, I mean that the guides said “Wow!” for like 5 straight minutes and kept sneaking peeks at it in the hold. They said it was the biggest they’d ever brought in, and it was about twice as big as the other flounders we got later. It was 27.5 inches long (and pretty much that wide — flounder are pretty circular). I didn’t know it was possible to turn blue with jealousy, but I was! After that, we really only brought in sand sharks. (I did get one or two of those.)
We dropped our Mate off on Block Island for a guitar gig he had that night. Dean had become hardened. He was NOT going to send me home skunked! So he picked up a bait flounder and we headed to the beach. Adam and I slept on the bench in the middle, tired after long exertions and an early morning. This was difficult, as the boat kept catching air as it quickly skimmed over the white-caps, hard whipped by wind and tide.
We fished for a while at the beach (actually just off the beach), bracing ourselves against the rolling waves and whipping wind. We stared in envy as the boat next two us brought in flounder from right under our keel. We fished Mike’s hat out of the drink. I could tell Dean was getting worried. He confided to me that he had a last resort — cleaning the fish usually brought a good number around.
Dean was holding Adam’s pole while Adam, um, reveled in nature, and he got a strike. He passed the pole to me, and I reeled in a little sea bass — a cute thing with lots of fin and dark patterns. Although it was a legal catch — barely, we threw it back. Next year, my fishie friend! So that was ok, but I wanted my own strike. And then… a tell-tale jiggling of the tip. And for once, the fish did not cleverly evade my hook while eating my bait. No! I reeled in, and pulled up my very own average flounder! Oh frabjous day! And nearly simultaneously, Adam pulled in its twin brother. We were successful! Fishie fishie fishie!!! I even then caught another flounder which we threw back, and Peter another sea bass (this one too small to even be legal). We could stop now. We were successful.
And so, utterly exhausted but glowing with success and sea-sun, we returned to Port Judith. Now, I have a good 8 pound of freshest fish in my ‘fridge. (We took equal portions.) We cooked up some of the striped bass on arriving at the in-laws, and oh! It was good! I will cook some for dinner tonight, and perhaps even those who don’t like fish will be surprised at how much better freshly caught fish is than your usual fare!
I’m hoping we get to go again next year!