We were headed in after a slow bluefish hunt, nothing substantial caught by either of us, and after rounding the point I could have sworn I saw a few splashes a long way down the shoreline between me and a secondary point. I continued at the same pace. It was probably just a herring gull taking off. I got much further and saw another splash between myself and a dark patch of water. OK, that was a fish. But all alone out in the middle of nowhere. Not a viable target.
I maintained course.
Then, all too suddenly, it became clear that the dark water wasn't just an effect of wind and light. It was nervous water, nervous water in which hundreds and hundreds of striped bass were feeding heavily on rain bait.
When the fish let us get close enough we were treated to a show. There were soooo many bass in there, and for the most part they were gently slurping up the small bait just inches under the surface. The larger ones in the school rose like trout to emergers, showing the tops of their heads and a bit of their fins just ever so briefly. It was beautiful.
We caught a few of them. All it took was putting something with a slim profile right in that nervous water and giving it a little twitch.
I've fished for striped bass consistently for three years now. I am absolutely infatuated with these fish. Big.
Blind casting structure.
On the fly, on plugs, on live eels....
It just doesn't matter. I love striped bass more than life itself. And it kills me to know I came a bit too late and that this fishery is not only a fraction of what it was just 15 years ago but also getting worse.
I don't take one moment in a situation like this for granted, because I don't know when the next time I'll see it again is. It'll happen, for sure. But undoubtedly less than my soul needs it to.