That was my Winter Ocean
Cod fishing from shore is many years of hear say and "one time I knew a guy' kinda stuff. It seems many many surfcasters........almost, got a cod from shore. Apparently the biggest deterrent to success in the last 25 years......is because no one does it!!!
An endeavor like fishing off a beach in the dead of winter would seem to me to be something that would have a greater chance of working with today's long range equipment. But the truth is that tough guys with Penn squidders were the ones doing it....Surfcasting for cod!! At least the fiberglass rods would hold up...bye the way don't use graphite in the winter.....the cold will snap it!!. If anyone has ever used the famous Penn squidder...than you know that piece of equipment could also survive such an angling outing. The weak link was always the angler. How long can he hold up???. Winter wind makes sissy's out of all tough guys. Add to it the mist from oceans waves and the bleakness of night........and big intentions quickly retreat to the car. I am convinced that the scarceness of success is the final factor that turned cod fishing from the shore.........into memories. But guess what world????............Its time to relive angling history!!! Its time for me to go surfcasting for cod.
High tide was a 430pm. Supposedly, the best/only time to maybe catch cod from the shore is when the tide is high and it is also dark. Makes sense. In January it begins to darken at 430...so the match up of key factors was ideal. I reviewed the"to do list" at 400 pm. My one last clam bag...thawed. Every piece of layer able clothing I owned.....on me. Nice hot chocolate and the thermos topped off...done. Rod picked out...with new 3 way rigs tied and ready...completed.
My house is virtually on the beach. Warmth a short walk away. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to test out this new England saga for at least 2 and a half hours. When the requirement of determination is a key factor to success, Striper Mike up the list considerably. I have been.....am now...and will continue, god willing, to be a veryyyyy determined man.
In the background, I heard the weather channel announce continued and heavy snow with 15-20 mph north west winds. The walk out the door affirmed that! I had to laugh as I plodded toward the beach. I was so thickly clothed, I could have done a commercial as the Michelin Man. This story's opening paragraph, it fits in here!! I was at the beach. I was fishing!!
Off course I could not put the sand spike in. I probably just brought it out of habit and novice ness for the cod routine. I also brought the great fresh clams from my buddy Jimmy ....in a cooler.!......The voice of reason should have called to me"Oh Striper Mike????....it is the dead of winter...isnt it plenty cold enough"? Boy I hate it when I 'm dumb!! None the less........I was fishing..bait on and casted a man's distance from shore..... I was fishing! In fact I was fishing for cod from the shore in January. I dedicated this insanity to the stock of old surfmen that fished when men needed to get out of their homes...even in the dead of winter. They had Cottage Fever. I live bye the ocean so, cottage fever fit better than cabin fever! I guess I am one of those guys. So there I stood... alone....and waited. The New England Patriot playoff game was on at 8 pm. I am not moving until 730 pm. I am going to fish that 3 hrs. This is where the determination bit comes into play!!
If anything would lure a cod to my hook it would be one of Jimmy's clams. He prides himself on being a fellow that will always make use of free things. Free firewood here, free plywood there, etc. There really is great fun in making use of free things. One of natures free things are the beautiful sea clams that wash up on certain tides, at certain times, in certain places. Jimmy, knows the tides...times...and places! The guy next door has the best clams for fishing I have ever seen. I stress EVER. They are freshly shucked and bagged . You cant find a better bottom bait for cod. I stress CANT. For every bag Jimmy gives me I am very thankful. Having a bag on a night like this, actually gave me hope!!!!
The silly alarm in my watch beeped at 600 pm. The reel was filled with snow............for the umpteenth time. The fuji eyes were clogged on the rod. The blinding snow was wet and hence heavy. Conditions were worsening. I wondered about the pre game show on TV....That's a bad sign. Needing a determination boost, I lit a box of sparklers left over from july4th and laughed out loud at the silliness of this whole scene. It didn't help when I discovered that my hot chocolate was now the temperature of YOO HOO out of the refrigerator. But what did help, was the fact that amidst the comedy of this adventure...........I GOT A BITE!
What in gods name was that? A skate? No too hard a bite. Crabs?..cant be...wrong type of tug. Another bite gave me more to make a judgment with, but I was so juiced up at the thought of success that I struck quick and blew the hook set. I was suddenly not cold...it was not snowing..there was no wind...and it did not appear dark...because the drama of angling had captured me again and my concentration level literally warmed me up. My wait for more action..gave me nothing. I checked the set up. Bait was gone. Another clam meant more hope and now I was into it!!! Nibbles again. Are they just pulling on the loose ends of the clam?? I checked them again.. Bait gone again. I felt rusty . My attempts at hooking up were awkward. The drama disoriented me. Like I said . The few months off from striper fishing , left me rusty. Now I was determined, but perhaps to late. Looking down at Jimmy's world class clams........I realized there was only one left in the bag. I would have to make this one count. I tried to go back to my many times on cod boats, trying to recall the type of bite to allow me success if it occurs again. At this point I was 100% sure, THEY WERE COD.
Practice what you preach. Old sayings sound good.. but I guess I had to live up to all the tips and hints and stuff I suggest. Time to follow those tips. I re sharpened the hook to a razor edge. Checked all the knots etc..even in the blinding snow and darkness. Cleared the reel of all the accumulated snow and cleared the rod guides. When the bites came this time, they would taste my mustad #6. Wading into the ocean, tingling with assumed success, and casting with 25 yrs of experience............I Launched the rig to the left and the clam to the right!............. I was out of bait!
I like tomorrows because tomorrows have brand new tides . This winter cod saga is far from over now. I learned alot out there. That's what is never ending with each fishing adventure. Newness. To me ..the cod fishing from shore stories are in the present. Success will be in the near future. As mentioned, I learned the answers to these questions . Are there NO CODFISH right off the beach in the winter?.....or.....Are there simply NO COD FISHERMAN on the beach? I had a bunch of bites and saw no one else standing in the snow that night. The answers lie in that statement.
I was serene with the realization that it was fishing that i yearned for...not the fish! I missed FISHING! I missed the "sort of a bite" routine, I missed the feel of real bites, I missed the tiny sways in the line and the smell of surf and the black sky. I missed the increasing pulse in my neck when my assumptions of winter cod were so apparent. I missed re-baiting..and retying. and re-casting and re...waiting. I just missed fishing. It never grows old...and prevents me from doing so also.
Don't let history sleep! Make new history! Measure your success by the length of your smile...not the length of a fish. Don't get Cottage Fever. The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.....Get up.....and do something , enjoyable!