Fly fishing rod

Outdoors Charley Soares Fly Fishing Striped Bass Newport Catch Release

In a past life he had been a dry fly snob who was decent at his game, and the idea of ​​throwing a treble hook at a fish was completely alien and repulsive to him.

I told him maybe I could grab a keeper or two if he was interested in putting in some time.

We were an odd couple – I was a net fisherman and he was a fly fishing purist; our only commonality was a love of old wooden boats.

I can’t remember exactly how we got to the Fort Adams State Park parking lot in Newport, but I think our wives had something to do with our unlikely pairing.

During the 45 minute drive to Newport (I was towing a boat) we talked about fishing and how I found it inconceivable that someone who loved fishing so much that he obviously hadn’t picked up a cane for five years. He retired from teaching at a small western college, and his wife eventually convinced him to leave the wooded streams and rivers he loved and move to his native New Hampshire. Love conquers or accesses all obstacles.

There were no fly rods, woven baskets with leather trim, weathered hats adorned with assorted flies, or any type of clothing resembling the Orvis or LL Bean catalogs. Just an open center console skiff with two trolling rods, four spinning and casting rods and several Plano tackle trays full of boxes, spoons and corks of all kinds.

All of his previous angling had been conducted on the banks of creeks and rivers in scenic landscapes, not on the black roofs, cement and multi-million dollar condos within sight of this Newport ramp and surrounding buildings.

I could tell he was happy to be on the water, but he felt out of place on the deck of a boat rather than on the gravel and currents of a wooded stream in his preferred habitat. It took him a while to get his sea legs, but as soon as I made the turn to Brenton Reef he perked up.

“We’re not going into that, are we?” It seems quite dangerous.

I assured him it was dangerous for anyone unfamiliar with this type of water and yes, we were going. I watched his fingers tighten around the stainless steel grab bar on the console.

I had fitted it with an automatic lifejacket, a unit that was foreign to an angler who rarely fished in waters deeper than four feet and wore one myself as I slowed down and worked my way between the breaking reefs and deeper gaps. I headed out until we were now behind the breakers and in an ideal spot for ambush predators like stripers to hide there and attack prey swept along by eddies and currents.

I offered him a spinning rod; he refused and informed me that he would rather watch how it was done.

It was not my intention to scare him but to put us in a place where we could catch some stripers.

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I would like to point out that I caught a striper during the first casting but I didn’t.

The water had been choppy from a passing storm that had passed through two days before and there was a lot of grass in the water that clogged my plug.

“There’s one right behind the socket. I can see the rise.

He could read the water but, as he pointed out, the fish were there and hungry but wouldn’t eat a lure with grass on the hooks.

We were in a big bowl inside the breakers and rock formations on the shore when I moved east towards the wind and what looked like a piece of clean water.

The Danny Junior had touched the water and barely moved three meters when a big mouth opened and crushed him.

I set the hook, and as the fish began to take the line, I offered him the rod.

He refused, informing me that he needed both hands to hold on to and just wanted to watch me fight the fish.

Keeping the fish from running between the rocks and washes while maneuvering the boat in choppy waters was a chore, but I finally got the fish close enough to stick the gaff just in front of the dorsal fin and hoist it aboard. It was a striper about 15 or 18 pounds, about 34 inches long, with shiny silver sides and dark black stripes, highlighted by the folds of sunlight coming through the cover early morning cloudy.

I can’t be sure, but I think he winced when the gaff hit. He was a light tackle lover who, according to his wife, released all his fish. She told us that after all the time, money and effort he has put into his sport, it would be rewarding if he brought home the occasional trout for dinner.

He was representative of a group of anglers who never killed a fish or brought one home for the table. I left the fish on the deck, blood seeping from the gaff wound, and got us out of there before the tide dropped further and created a bigger swell.

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Once out of the cauldron in much calmer water, I stopped to tend to the fish. I lifted it up and placed it on ice in the large cooler out front then took the serrated knife and severed the artery connecting the gills to allow the fish to bleed resulting in the white the cleanest of fillets. Fish that are not bled produce blood-stained fillets or steaks.

I then moved along the shoreline of Ocean Drive, pointing out mansions and historic sites. I plugged a few other fish, only one that had a dirty hook in its gills which I kept, but my mate refused to pick up a rod and cast.

He asked what the lines of big red barrels and flags were, and I informed him that they were fish traps or gill nets. He couldn’t believe that these fishing methods were legal or allowed.

There were a lot of things my reluctant deck mate didn’t understand about saltwater fishing, but in all honesty, this trip definitely came as a shock to him.

After a few hours on the water I could see it was ready to get back on solid ground so I parked in Fort Adams Cove and filleted the two fish before hoisting the boat onto trailer.

He offered to pay for fuel and lunch. I told him the trip was for me, but lunch looked good, although towing a boat limited the number of restaurants we could park.

We enjoyed a good meal and pleasant conversation at my friend Gary’s West Main Pizza, where I informed him that I had been fly fishing for decades, before a painful fall from a boat in a repair shop damage my right shoulder. , which makes it very painful to launch a flyrod for more than 15 minutes at a time.

He said he was grateful for the introduction to the ocean and the experience of hunting stripers in their gnarly habitat, but never saw him again.

Later that fall, I received a thank you card with a photo of him posing along a New Hampshire river with a saltwater class flyrod while holding a school bass, which he m assured that he had immediately released.

I was glad I introduced him to strip and saltwater fishing, but I don’t believe he would take another trip with a bloodthirsty bass killer like me.

PS: Although his wife is working on it, she still hasn’t tasted a fresh striped bass harvested by her husband.