I tend to be a solitary angler. Time on the
water is more than catching fish; it's an
opportunity to "air my demons" as Dylan Thomas
once said of his long solitary walks along the
cliffs of Wales. Fishing alone lets me keep my
own schedule and counsel, with no fear of that
competitive vibe that ruins fishing and sometimes
crops up when you fish with others.
But that's not to say that I won't fish in
company if the company is good, and I had a
chance to fish with fine company this weekend.
I've recently had the good fortune to make
the acquaintance of a group of fly fishers,
mostly trouters (I'll forgive them), but also
one striped bass aficionado, J.P. J.P. is the
fly fishing manager of Orvis, Boston, and while
his angling knowledge and prowess is what earned
him this position, his last name must have given
him the edge over other applicants.
As J.P. and I talked of fishing it came up
that we were both free Saturday morning, and
I invited him up to Plum Island Sound to fish
my home waters from a kayak. Inviting others
to share your pond is similar to hosting a
party; you want everyone to have a good time.
It's also one of those pleasant angling
situations where you hope that your guest out
fishes you, and this is the ultimate win/win
situation. If he does catch more than you,
you've gotten what you wanted; on the other
hand you won't be extremely disappointed if
your catch is greater than his.
And it's easy to relate to someone who
shares your passion, not so easy to
someone who doesn't. I'm known around
town as an avid fly fisher, and when I
run into non-fly fishers at the post
office or grocery store they feel obligated
to tell me about their great uncle Cabela,
who not only fly fishes but "ties his own
flies!" Even worse are those who do fish
and tell me how they (or their uncle's barber)
caught a 48 inch striped bass. I just grin
and nod when talking to the former, but always
question the latter- "were you fishing from a
boat? Were you fishing bait?" If the answer
is 'yes' I introduce them to MMMF (Micus
Method for Measuring Fish): if you catch
a fish from a power boat, you divide the
length by two. If you catch the fish on
bait you divide by two again. A 48 inch
striped bass caught from a power boat using
live bait is a 12 inch fish (48 divided by 2
divided by 2). By sharing this formula,
I've fortunately reached the point where
neighbors and acquaintances think I'm an
eccentric old crank and don't often tell
me the fishing exploits of themselves or
J.P. scored points by arriving prior to
our agreed upon departure time of 5 am,
even though he had an hour's drive to get
to my house. We launched the kayaks at
the boat ramp at the end of the street,
and not sixty seconds into our trip he
was tight to a bass. I breathed a sigh
of relief, exhaling the smell of 'skunk'
that lingers in my nostrils at the start
of any fishing trip. We paddled to my
favorite spot, Key West. No, not the Key
West, but a sand beach off of a marsh bank
that fishes well two hours either side of
low tide and is only accessible by boat.
At high tide it is completely submerged.
The name given this spot by cartographers
is Third Creek because of the three saltwater
estuarine rivulets that converge there, but
the locals call it triple creek. I call it
Key West partly to allow me to talk of this
spot without others knowing where it is, but
mostly because, at dawn on a summer morning
it is as beautiful as any place in the Keys;
beautiful as any place in the world, for that
But it's not a 'big fish' spot and this
would be a test of our angling compatibility.
If J.P. was a numbers cruncher or head hunter,
he'd be disappointed, me even more so. We
each caught fish, not big fish or big numbers,
but enough to keep things interesting, and
my concerns proved unfounded.
"This is a great spot," said J.P. enthusiastically.
I'm not sure how many fish we caught by the
end of the day and it doesn't matter. We sat
in my yard and drank coffee, gazed at the
water and discussed rods and reels and lines
and fish and destinations and books and all
of those other things that bind fly anglers
"I have a friend visiting next week," J.P.
said before he left. "Would you mind if I
bring him up to fish?"
I didn't mind at all. ~ Dave
Dave Micus lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts. He is an
avid striped bass fly fisherman, writer and instructor.
He writes a fly fishing column for the Port City Planet
newspaper of Newburyport, MA (home of Plum Island and Joppa Flats)
and teaches a fly fishing course at Boston University.