Dan and I found ourselves fishing the battered surf zone early Saturday morning, with a stiff 20-30kt wind out of the northeast gusting even stronger, a deep low approaching from the southwest, and big swells sweeping in from the southeast. 40 degrees.
It should have been good big striper conditions, and indeed they were. Except for one variable I should have take into account: mud.
I did think about that, I always take it into account in the spot we were fishing. But I am generally far more concerned about it with a straight easterly and a higher incoming tide. This tide was obscenely low. It was in stark contrast to the visuals later in the day when roads had to be closed and property was damaged by coastal flooding, not uncommon with these extratropical systems and their broad low pressure areas. The wind was coming of the land, not off the water, so the crashing surf wasn't really something I counted on. Not to the degree that it was occurring that early in the storm.
To avoid prolonging the point any further, we caught diddly squat in that first area. After filling up and drying of slightly we moved west and found out that we should have started there. The tide was ripping around the tip of a jetty and the bass were holding right there, tight to the rocks. Casting barely necessary. Dan and I caught some obscenely fat schoolies there and had just enough time to realize that there were some big fish there before the tide started picking up dead eel grass down the beach and dumping all of it into our spot, ruining our bite.
We found fish in another spot that we could have sat on for a long time, but we didn't. We went looking for albies. Really, for no good reason. But when we saw fish breaking out in the bay as we rigged up I started to actually think we'd have a chance. I didn't have my usual albie arsenal with me so I just threw on a chartreuse clouser. And I started walking out to the spot I jokingly told Dan "Five casts and I'll be into a solid ten or twelve pound albie".
Five casts later, I watched a roughly 10lb false albacore launch near vertically for my chartreuse clouser, and I was on my first shore bound albie of the year. This was my first time getting one on the new-ish 10wt, and it handled that fish more than admirably. I was able to keep it within 120 feet of me at all times.
So, at worst I can say I ended 2018 with two albies on the fly total and one from shore on the fly. In other words, the total number of albies I got on my first day targeting them last year, and half as many as I got from shore on my first day of targeting them last year. I wish I could do anything other than have a sort of melancholy chuckle about that.
The albies are not long from being hopelessly absent around here, but the striped bass, and maybe a few bluefish if we are so lucky, are not going to give in for a couple weeks. Tomorrow might be a pretty incredible day for Mark Alpert and I. We shall see.