Sunday, December 31, 2017
Fish Tails Part 2: Fishing Poles and the Illusive Striper
I remember Manasquan Inlet where I can still see my dad fishing on the jetties. He handed the pole to my older brother and up came a sea robin, a strange fish with wings for fins. My grandma got goosed by a stingray and I discovered mole crabs.
I had all the golden books about the seashore and it's inhabitants and fishing was superseded by nature, shells and just being by the ocean. When I was thirteen my stepdad bought us saltwater fishing rods and what followed was an odyssey to catch the holy grail of east coast fishing....the giant striper.
We would live-line bait from the rocks, caught many birds, a few black fish but not one striper. I always dreamed of disappearing from the group and coming back with a giant striper but it never happened.
We also fished for flounder, again not that much luck and after a while I began to take fishing for granted. I would give anything to go fishing in Belmar today.
After a long day on the jetties, the first gulp of Stewart's root beer cut through a day's thirst with an amazing rapturous sting. There were long nights spent fishing on the beach with surf tubes only to be awoken by my stepfather jumping up to set the rod I was supposed to be watching.
The mornings we'd chase the flocks of birds chasing schools of baitfish as bluefish boiled the water. We'd throw metal lures into the schools and with every cast a powerful fighting bluefish.
We would fish on the pier in Point Pleasant where we saw a plane crash into the ocean, a swimmer who seemed intent on killing himself and I discovered the illusive weakfish. You let the lure sink to the bottom and if the bluefish don't hit it on the way down you get weakfish.
The wonderful thing about weakfish is they run and it was a wonderful exciting feeling to realize you just hit a monster that was running full speed out to sea. I even was lucky enough to catch several with my Uncle Bill-I remember him asking as the line screamed, "What you got there?"
We still have those rods and all I can say is we definitely got a lot of use and wonderful memories out of them. I would say they were one of the best gifts we had received that literally carved out a piece of my childhood.
I never did catch the Striper, although I did seem him under the waves when we dove for lobster in Shark River Inlet. We caught lots of other fish and spent many a night building memories. How I miss the ocean and yet since then we have adopted a special place in our hearts for Florida.
On the next post, I'll explain how we actually started catching fish and they got bigger. We caught tarpon in the keys in the next post.