It was over half a century ago, but one of my fondest fishing memories occurred on a Halloween night.
I was making good will calls on New England tackle shops for Garcia, and left Cape Cod during a surprise snowy northeaster– heading west for some R.I. calls on my way home to Long Island. A cold northwest front roared in on the way and cleared everything up, leading to a decision to fish at Charlestown Breachway that evening.
I had only fished there once before when the regulars told the young stranger that I’d have to wait my turn to cast into the outgoing water at the breachway mouth in order to avoid tangles. Thus, when my turn came, I cast across the narrow opening and retrieved my plug so it would pass through the school striper “feeding station” where bait was heading out to sea. There was little action that night, but I was anxious to try it again.
Checking the tide table revealed the outgoing tide would conveniently start after dinner, so I went to my motel room and donned layers of clothing to guard against that cold wind. Upon arriving at the parking lot. I was pleased to see very few vehicles before walking out the path to the opening. There wasn’t an angler in sight, and I understood why as water was pouring into the breachway. I had forgotten that the outgoing tide doesn’t turn out for about three hours after it starts falling!
I started heading back to my car along the path when I looked to the east and saw big waves left over from the northeaster racing toward the surf before being “stood up” by the northwest wind that created white water in depths well offshore of the beach. I was a very inexperienced surfcaster at that time, but that situation looked good to me and I decided to make a couple of casts before returning to the motel.
There was no problem in making a long cast with 20-pound mono, and the full moon was so brilliant that it was more like daylight than dark. I watched the swimming motion of my Junior Atom plug — and then saw a sight that’s forever locked into my memory as a seemingly huge striped bass rose up behind it and sucked the lure in without any hesitation!
I had the shore fishing fish of my dreams hooked. but then surveyed my situation. Though I was at one of the most popular spots in Rhode Island, I was all alone as the regulars wouldn’t be showing up for the outflowing water for three hours. I hadn’t brought a gaff since there would be lots of them at the Breachway among the pros fishing there. Below me there was a steep drop covered with large rocks which I wasn’t about to attempt, especially with a rod in hand. There didn’t seem to be any way I could land my prize.
Then, as if God had answered my prayers, I heard –“I’LL GAFF THAT FISH FOR YOU”.
It wasn’t God, but unbeknownst to me there was an angler, fishing a live eel, tucked out of the wind at the base of the water line below my location.
That’s exactly what he did, and I was able to get close enough to grab the end of his gaff handle with which to drag my trophy up to the path.
Going back to casting, I hooked another large bass that was landed in the same manner. I was almost relived when the only other hit was from a schoolie that shook off.
Though well satisfied with what I had caught, I woke up at the motel in time to check what the regulars had done at the Breachway. Though the water was pouring out and conditions were perfect, nothing was being caught. I had enjoyed the Halloween of my life only because I had miscalculated and then was able to improvise!
At Sea Isle Tackle in Freeport later that morning, Ron Fuerhing put those bass on his scale where they weighed 34 and 38 pounds. A big thrill for an angler who hadn’t caught anything larger than a schoolie from shore before.
NY/NJ Bight boat fishing for stripers could hardly be any better. Capt. Ron Santee said bass came up as soon as the tide turned this morning, and many fares on the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands had over 10 released bass. Top waters and shads worked fine.
The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a fine striper bite with keepers outnumbering the overs. Bunkers and many types of lures all produced,