Dave Micus, Plum Island Sound

August 22nd, 2005


By Dave Micus

We walk in the shadows of those who have gone before. I refer not to those casters of long shadows, the Theodore Gordons and Lee Wulffs, but the ordinary sportsman who, with family and other commitments, could not devote his life to his passion but never-the-less loved it as much as anyone.

It might be easier for the trouter, in the woods on a meandering stream, to see the shadows and hear their whispers carried on the water. These whispers can be drowned by the roar of the surf, and the shadows, like footprints, washed by the tide. Yet we who fish the brine still know they were here. We only have to look to see.

A fireplace, naked at the water's edge, is all that remains of a secluded fishing camp, but the stories told round that hearth still linger in the air. Large striped bass are caught within sight of the granite steps that led to a long-gone front porch, and things are probably not much different then they were 100 years ago. At least so it seems.

A net snagged from a vest by a thieving branch waits patiently in the brush until found and used again. The twine is tattered and the handle, bleached like driftwood, is warped by water and strong hands. How many fish have been brought to this net? Somewhere its owner is satisfied that it is once again in use.


The remains of a sunken boat are being exhumed by the tide. Its skeletal ribs and keel, thick white oak still firm to the touch, protrude from the sand and it is easy to visualize the size and shape of the craft--about 40 feet long and wide of beam. Given the location, it is likely an old fishing vessel.

Dilapidated duck blinds rest on solid cedar posts where the estuarine river caresses the marsh. Once self-contained hunting camps, they are now inhabited by the specters of late fall outings where gunners gathered after a day's sport to warm their limbs by the wood stove and their bellies with golden brown bourbon. The ducks return in autumn, but the hunters have moved on.

Strong passions don't fade, old sportsmen never die--they linger all around. It is up to us to hear their stories and carry on their traditions. And we'll leave our own shadows for those who come behind. ~ Dave

About 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.

Previous Dave Micus Columns

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