Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Clogs are migrating!

Brevoortia tyrannus was on the move this evening, several small pods were headed out of the Manasquan River Inlet during the p.m. outgoing tide. At the sight of the first pod to pass the inlet walls one fisherman commented how these Bunker did not originate from up in the river but rather were retrurning to see to where they came from on the previous incoming tide. It was a peculiar comment and one I'd reflect upon later.

A strong ENE wind was prevalent throughout the day today and the surf was in a frenzy making for some clam smashingly good waves. Several "shorts", or small bass were reported here and there taken along the Manasquan surf, the majority of which were taken by bait fisherman fishing bunker chunks and clams. These must be what they call Masterbaiters. There were more pressing matters at hand however, and after a well placed cast of my weighted treble hook into the middle of the pod, a few quick jerks of the rod, and the taught line that ensued, I was in business.

The small school of bunker moved out the inlet quickly with no assault from predators below, the ever increasing tidal currents aiding their seaward migration. They would search for deeper water no doubt but they would be one less for certain when they reached their destination, and right now, that one was swimming around on the other end of my line. I worked the bunker down the entire length of the wall with no sign of chase from a Striper. I thought there was a flurry of action during the first few moments after I snagged the bunker, it made a commotion on the surface of the water, racing in circles of every which direction, deciding at last to make a break to the seawall that held back the river. Instinctively I knew a predator lurked below, the erratic motion a flight response to danger genetically programmed by thousands of years of evolutionary pressure. Rather effective I might add as my trip ended up without a hook-up. In fact, this Clever Clupeidae remained in tight against the bulkhead wall never again to swim out into deeper, open water. Now, if I were anthropomorphic I'd say it was being spiteful for when I left it alone on the sidewalk.

I neglected to mention this tidbit of abandonment in part because it was something you truly had to see to believe. In fact, if it wasn't happening to me, I wouldn't have believed it either but believe you me, it had everything to do with my shoes! The shoes?! Gotta be the shoes!! Well, they're not actually shoes shoes ,rather, they're a pair of suede clogs made by Merel. Despite them being the most comfortable footwear I own, they can really be a little difficult to keep on your feet. I know his because they are always falling of of mine. Anyway, I was letting out some line feeding it out as the bunker is swimming with the current and it must have gotten away from me because before I knew it the line was tangled around a rock hidden just below the surface of the water. Try as I might, I could not pull it free. The line was stuck. I felt I could get more leverage and free the line if I just stepped over the railing and leaned out a little bit. Make no mistakes about it, I was determined at all costs to catch a Striper and losing this bait was not an option. Remember earlier when I said they are always falling off of mine? Well, I knew this, and even said it to myself before stepping over the rail. This did no good because as I was swinging my left (and final) foot over the railing, I inevitably managed to launch my clog into the water. The only thing more poetic to this scene would have been if I had a bottle of champagne to smash on it as I sent it on it's maiden voyage.

Instead of cursing I laughed aloud at the sight of my helpless clog bobbing in the water not more than 5 feet below me and well out of my reach. "Well, there's no excuse not to buy a new pair of shoes now!" If ever there was a good reason this was it. I nearly flipped off the other one into the water so they could be forever together. After several more laughing outbursts (I'm still not sure if I were in denial at my stupidity or not) and staring at the bobbing clog I noticed it wasn't moving with the tide as fast as I thought. In fact, it was nearly slack tide and the current had slowed tremendously. Not to mention the foam rubber vibram sole of the clog kept afloat. As determined as I was to catch a fish though, I was not ready to give up my clogs to Davey Jones' locker.

I reeled in my line and removed the bunker from my hook. Oh, did I mention my effort to unsnag the line was successful? Well, it was. So, I reeled in the bunker, unhooked it, and placed it down on the pavement, and proceeded to fish for my shoe. Thank God for sharp hooks!! After several attempts at hooking the clog I managed a solid grab in the sole of the shoe, and gingerly hoisted the shoe to my grasp. How cliche this must have been! A fisherman bringing a shoe up from the briney depths! Geesh! A swift hook extraction from the now waterlogged clog and I was back in action. Still laughing at the events there was only one thing left to do. Reaching for the still flopping bunker, I hooked it through the back flipped it out into the water and slipped a dry foot into a wet clog!


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