Surgery

I try to make it a point not to miss sunrises. After all, what is my excuse when I am 41 steps from our magic ocean.....yes I have counted them...countless times. I had a couple of delicious coffees from Bob and Jeans at Dockside Donuts, and was all set for the SHOW. And my god, on Humarock Beach, the sunrise is a show of shows. No fishing stuff ...yet, it was to early, the High tide would be at 730am and it was barely 530...I had some time before I chose my fishing spot. Funny thing. Fish don't do things in a predictable fashion. Try as we may to develop theories about the how and when of striper fishing, we still are, at best, guessing. Yes, some of us do "guess" better than others! My guess was I was to early.....my guess was wrong.

As I walked to the edge of the wall, for a grandstand seat for "The Source of Life Show", My honed eye of a surfcaster riveted on some birds quite a ways down the beach.....and they were not there to see the sunrise....they were feeding, just like the stripers underneath them!!! While racing back to the house for some casting gear, I sort of felt my sunrise urge disappear, into a fishing/sunrise urge. Surf bag....8ft rod and a funky green Penn spinfisher.....boots.....and I am off.

My hopes were bathed when I realized that they were still working but had now moved even further down the beach...were talking in the mile range. As mentioned...I am 50.. a durable 50, but still 50. Somehow crashing stripers taps eternal youth.....I sprinted! The oversized rubber boots flopped all over from my determined stride, but they were getting closer with each step. When I got with in range I went up on the beach and approached them in a more stealthful fashion so as not to possibly spook them. Blue and white atom popper, 2oz, and a snappy St. Croix, put me right in the middle of them... And these linesiders were not shy. Instant, and distinct plug bite..unique in its own way, and the trebles held. The first fish was a schoolie but plug fishing on the top is WILD at any size. Pliers..trebles... out..and released. Maybe not on the next cast...but surely the one after that, produced the same results.......and so did the cast after that ...and so did the cast after that...and so did the cast after that, and on ,and on, and on. Spectacular action was constant as the school worked the bait furiously, and their confusion about my atom being in the middle of it all, kept my line tight for 30 min. The fish were not huge but I had estimated two at about 28 and 29 inches in my first 9 stripers....all released of course. Upon landing a first "sort of nice one"...about 30 inches, I realized that my pliers had flipped out of my sheath during the course of action . They were no where to be found and when you are in a school of moving and feeding stripers, One pause in the action on your part could mean the end of your frenzy. The fish being hooked up and thrashing in the school keeps the other ones in the feed mode and if there is a long gap in your hookups...they will move faster than your pursuit.

Back to the pliers. I do not like to take big trebled plugs out of fish with my hands...especially big fish. This 30 incher had some steam behind it and I was rightfully cautious. But if I paused the action was moving to fast to catch up as it sped down the beach. I opted to pull it by hand.... I knelt with some controlling pressure on the striper. Rod in right hand...plug removal with the left. Even with one knee, somewhat controlling this adolescent, it still lurched with striper determination and sent the back treble on the new atom........right .......through....my little finger. I stress the word through!. Grab a visual at this point. Rod in right hand...plug attached to the 30 inch striper and through my little finger....and the stripers attempt at freedom continued regardless of my dilemma.

striper-and-bloody-hand

There is a culprit and a bloody right hand

Really bad pain almost feels electric sometimes. Its not an "ouch" thing, its.....electric! Fellow surf caster, this was very "electric". I put the rod between my legs ..opened the bail, re-knelt and took the lug out of the striper with my right hand. He swam away on the next wave. Meanwhile the school still thrashed but was easing away. These moments only come so often for surfcasters. The magic of constant hookups after so many fishless hours....are, priceless. I was infuriated by my dam stupidity and tried feverishly to back the hook out....I tried to rip it straight out and it was far to deep for such a move....and the stripers eased away. The blood was gushing and I was quite away from the house now .....which is probably one of the reasons for my next approach to all of this.......SURGERY. I pulled my very old...very used....very rusty...very dull...mackerel bait knife from its sheath, and at the same rate of your present word absorbtion,1. found a big , sort of, flat rock. 2. braced my finger on the rock, with the lures full grip on me, visible, 3. took 2 very deep breaths, and with one adrenal motion........cut the lure out, and cut myself, right to the bone! The hook was out and the lure was still attached, so what else was there to do, but run like a fool again and keep fishing when I caught up to the school. And I think you know what I did!

I did catch three more. But as predicted the bait fish suddenly spun outward and the stripers followed. No birds, no splashing, no more stripers. God it was exciting. I took time to assess the damage. It was indeed cut to the bone or there abouts, because I hadn't seen white cartilage type stuff and purple red meat before. The big game green triline line on my spool was saturated red. I ripped the bottom band off of my tee shirts ..... pushed the meat back into place, and then wrapped it with the rag. I did not sprint back as I had done during the chase......But I didn't want to run back, even though medical care was inevitable, I wanted to remember every strike....the way they boil up like that. and refuse to leave the school when you first hook them. I wanted to remember all of that, cause those times don't happen much for surf casters...... With warm thoughts and the just risen sun warming my back ........the pain from my "SURGERY" can wait until later. Pursue adventure.