Time to Hit the Beach!

Cape Cod, A Surfcaster’s Dream

071517-Beach FireWhen I came to Cape Cod as a wash-ashore 20 years ago, I fell in love with surfcasting. After living in Puerto Rico for 10 years, with it’s choice of either rocky cliffs or sprawling shallow beaches, the huge expanse of the Outer Beach was a whole new experience for me. The first trip driving out with some friends to the Spit was a blast. We brought some of my friend’s rods and caught a couple of schoolies and a few Blues. I was hooked.

Then things went cold. For many years, there were not a lot of fish caught off the Nauset surf. Sure, Tony Stetzco was still making nightly trips out with his usual luck, catching lunkers in the moon light. But, most of the casual beach fishermen were coming up empty. You would hear of an occasional bite, but the stories were few and far between. Some keepers here, a few blues there. Nada mucho.

Last year things changed. There was the first major showing of big schools of keepers RIGHT IN THE SURF. And we I say in the surf, I mean the boats were coming into 4 feet of water and casting their lures onto the beach and dragging them in, with hits being made as soon as the lure hit the froth. Massive schools of pogies were being pushed up on the beach by the feeding stripers. For the first time in years, the Goose couldn’t keep Snag Hooks on the shelf. People were casting the snags into the pogies and then hooking stripers. It was epic.

Well this year has not started off the way last year left off. Things have changed. It looks like the schools are back on the Big Back Side, and in numbers.

I packed the fam, and a friend of ours with her two daughters to head out to the spit for a beach fire. As always, I packed by surf rod. I have a dream of a 11 foot surf caster. Custom made for a gentleman who later sold off all his gear to get into stock car racing, go figure, the action on this one piece rod is unbelievable. Simeon in the shop helped me pair it with a Shimano Socorro SW10000 and it has been my jewel for a few years now.

071517-Beach Striper071517-Beach popperAfter we sent up the fire pit and the girls were all settled in, I took down my rod, put a 8 in. Black Eel RonZ on and made a few casts. The mung and seaweed were so thick the RonZ plopped on the surface and stayed there! I fought the big load of cabbage in and said to myself, “No fishing tonight.” I grabbed a cold one and settled into my favorite chair. About an hour later I see three guys grab their rods and start running down the beach. About 100 yards up the water is boiling. I grab my trusty “Jack Rogers” and realize I took the RonZ off and had not replaced it. I grabbed the first lure I came to in my tackle box, a time proven Atom Striper Swiper. This Blue and White feather tail popper has been around for over 60 years. After clipping it on I too started sprinting up the beach. Game on!

The first cast into the boil hooked up right away. After a slight battle I pulled in about a 33 inch Striper. I saw other bigger fish in the boil and made a risky choice, keep it or go for bigger? I reluctantly cut her loose, in the back of my mind telling myself I had just jinxed it. The next cast yielded a 24 inch fish. That was it. As my dad used to say, “I screwed the pooch.” (Never was sure where that expression came from) I was not going to catch another keeper.

I walked up the beach a few more yards only to be greeted with a seal popping his head up in the middle of the boil. Wanting to avoid loosing my Atom to the varmint I cast about 20 feet  behind him. My reel went off. I could tell right away this was either another seal for a monster bass. A few seconds later I saw the back break the water and knew I was blessed. After a great 15 minute fight she was on the beach. But it wasn’t over. Right in the surf she spit the popper. Panicking, I laid my rod down on the sand, something I HATE doing and ran for it. I caught her by the upper jaw just as she made a turn in about 8 inches of water that had washed in and threw her up onto the beach before she could get here bearing and make a kick for the deep. BINGO! I had just landed the biggest fish I had ever caught from the surf. A 42 inch, 38 pound lunker. I was one happy camper, needless to say.

071517-Beach PogiesAfter getting it home to fillet, I wanted to see what they were feeding on. Out came three big Menhaden. These are the fish that are perfect size for snag hooking. My next trip? I’m going to grab some of the snag hooks we have in the store and go for another monster. The Beach is On Fire! Grab your gear and head out there.