Fishing Stories

Facebook Fishing

November 5th, 2013  |  Published in Fishing Reports, Fishing Stories, Fishing Tips by allison

As technology evolves and advances, so too, should your fishing game. I can remember thumbing through magazines and travel brochures when I was younger trying to pick our annual vacation destination. Now granted, I wasn’t fishing back then, but a lot of my “vacation criteria” was the same: hot weather, sparkling clear water and sandy beaches.

The pictures would almost speak to me and I’d visually replace the model in the picture with myself and determine, “Yep, that’s totally where we’re going.” Our feet would touch down on the tarmac, our taxi would pull up to the resort and I’d look at my family with confusion and mutter the words “Well, this doesn’t look like the picture at all.” And like the frozen dinners that always look so delicious on the box but never like that in reality, you come to the conclusion that a very talented marketing team put your travel brochures together.

Like so many others, I had to learn my lesson the hard way. Realizing it doesn’t have to be that way, I have since course-corrected my fishing vacation selection process. My travel agency is now Facebook and my travel agents are my “fishing friends” on Facebook. I went a different route with social media than most. It was about fishing strategy rather than connecting with friends, high school alumni, family and co-workers. If I didn’t see the person holding a fish, a gaff or a rod I didn’t click “Accept” friendship. This strategy has not only “landed” me some very close friendships, but it’s also allowed me to gain personal insight to pick enough fishing destinations, charters and trips to last me a lifetime.

Think about it, if you want to plan a fishing trip but don’t know where to go, who to fish with and where to stay, all you have to do is throw it out to your Facebook community. They’ll give you the who, the where, and the what and also have the real pictures and video to prove or disprove the selection.

Build your network and you will have the people who have actually experienced the trip. They can honestly give you the Facebook “Thumbs Up” or better yet the angler’s seal of approval. You won’t have to roll the dice anymore and chance picking a destination from a brochure written by someone who has never even fished before. I can honestly say that this strategy has paid off for me ten-fold and is an Angler-2-Angler tip that will help make your dream vacation a reality.

Published in Coastal Angler Magazine

Key West Permit Caught on a Trip Endorsed by My Facebook Friends

Key West Permit Caught on a Trip Endorsed by My Facebook Friends

Fishing On Hold…Oh, I don’t think so!

January 17th, 2012  |  Published in Fishing Stories, Fishing Tips, Industry News by allison

This is the time of year we all dread here in New England. In fact, I saw a picture of the Helen H party boat the other day docking up in Montauk and it looked like an ice sculpture of a boat that someone created. So far, this winter has been mild. So mild, that we have kicked ourselves a number of times and questioned whether we should “un-wrap” our beloved and re-launch it. Last night was the first real sign of winter we’ve had in Boston. I looked outside to see the city lights and saw an odd white dusting on the ground. I can say that I was actually taken back, like it was an “odd” sighting. Is global warming escalating that much, that we are appalled when it snows in mid-January? As the winter depression sets in and the year-long projects await attention, we begin to look for some connection to fishing. We plunk down on the couch and watch all the fishing shows we taped because we were actually OUT FISHING while they were airing. We begin to disassemble our gear, polish it, and relive the action we had while using it.     

Oh the humanity. Just last week, I scrubbed the refrigerator, packed away summer attire, organized my closet, gave the cat a bath and determined there has got to be something better than this!

Winter Stinks

 That’s when the laptop came out and the Google search for “Fishing Shows” was frantically typed. I have been an advocate my entire fishing career about the benefits of seminars. I guarantee you will learn and take away something from each and every seminar you attend. It may not be what you expected to learn, but I would be amazed if you didn’t walk away with a piece of knowledge you didn’t previously possess or a desire to try something you hadn’t even considered before.

I felt like a “junkie” that just needed a quick fix. If there were no shows, we would head to Bass Pro to view the stripers in the tank and fondle fishing gear in at least 20 aisles. We found the Providence, RI boat show underway which included fishing seminars. And just like our impromptu fishing excursions, we were dressed and in the car within minutes on our way to a fishing “fix”.  

Because the trip wasn’t planned, we were on a very tight schedule. Upon arrival, we headed to our first seminar room. After attending each and every seminar available in the winter, you get to a point where you’ve seen every speaker, or the same speaker do the same presentation multiple times. It was our lucky day. First up: Bill Brown of Billfish Sport Fishing.  I’m so glad we saw him speak. There are some fishermen who could compose an encyclopedia full of fishing knowledge, but have a difficult time translating that to the more inexperienced angler. Not so with Bill. He used to be a teacher and it showed. Captain Bill has been on ESPN, NESN and his RI state record Thresher Tail is on permanent display at the IGFA Hall of Fame.

In the off-season, he ventures off to Florida and Cuba to do what he loves for himself. The sparkle and passion exuded from him during his presentation and transferred to the audience. You could see the anticipation and excitement for the sport begin to show in all of us. What I loved most about Bill’s seminar was his carefree attitude in sharing tips with us. Some fishermen don’t want to share tips that would actually improve your fishing game and just give you generalizations of fishing in your area. Bill sincerely wanted to share and help us improve and catch more fish. He stated “I want you to walk away with 1% here, 1% there. Trust me, you will catch more fish, but if you fish right next to me, I will still out-catch you”. I can say that I did walk away with 2 new tricks that I will apply this year and be sure to email him my thanks when I see the results!

We then headed to New England Big Game Fishing Strategies with Capt. Jack Sprengel at East Coast Charters. His seminar went over specialized techniques for catching Shark, Tuna and Swordfish. I have seen Jack speak before and he is on the Esca Pro-Staff team with me. When I hear the name “Jack Sprengel”, the word that comes to mind is Respect. I have the utmost respect for this fishing expert. He is a genuine guy full of heart, determination and the results to back it up. If you have ever wanted to fish for Tuna, Shark or Swords, this is your teacher. The only complaint I had on this seminar was the time. I could have listened to him for hours and still felt like it wasn’t enough. He and Capt. Lou DeFusco of Hot Reels Fishing Charters broke the Rhode Island State Swordfish record in 2011 with a 434 pound monster.,,

After the seminar, we visited Jack and Lou at their booth and flipped through their photo book of trophy catches and listened to the stories behind them. It jump started my imagination and dreams of being in a 3 hour fight with a magnificent sword and landing a once in a lifetime like theirs. Again, the fact that Jack has had so many “once in a lifetimes” was truly inspirational. That’s the great thing about the winter in New England. You have time to dream about the unknown that will be your next fishing season. You never know, it could turn into your best story yet.   

Dare to Dream

Dare to Dream

A GoPogy Smelting Experience to Remember

November 29th, 2011  |  Published in Fishing Stories by allison

I did an earlier post on setting and achieving goals in my fishing game. Becoming a more successful and diverse angler is a direct result of expanding your techniques, fishing locations and targeted species. One of my top goals is to increase and broaden my list of catches. When you think about the number of possible saltwater species that exist just in New England alone, there is no reason this goal cannot be reached.

A popular species for New Englanders in the fall and winter is the shiny “Smelt”. To me, it looks like just a bait fish you hook to catch a more substantial fish. But to many, it is a delicacy they look forward to arriving each year. They’re fried little goodies you catch while sitting on buckets at the town dock while reminiscing about your fishing successes and failures of the year. So this was a must-have species for GoPogy.

When people ask me what I love about fishing, the first thing that comes to mind is the word “experience”. Each time we go fishing, whether it’s a destination trip, a run out to the harbor or just dropping a line at the dock, they’re always memorable experiences. Some filled with despair, most filled with hilarity, chaos of some sort and lots of laughter. The smelting experience was right up there in terms of hilarity. This one will forever be logged into my memory bank. The shiny smelt and the robust angler wrestling on the dock is a vivid picture that words just don’t seem to do justice. But I’ll give it a go.

Our experience started with a trip to Fore River Tackle for some live grass shrimp. The store was packed with avid smelters. The owner of the tackle store sent us out with frozen grass shrimp (all they had left), sabiki rigs size 6, and tips on rigging the teeny tiny bait. When we arrived home, the frozen shrimp went back into the freezer. When it was time to hit the docks, I was busy “layering up” for the winter temps when I smelled a foul odor permeating from the kitchen. I asked Fred what he was cooking for dinner and was prepared to tell him that I would have something else, when he quickly got up from his office chair, and ran to the kitchen. I could hear the microwave door fly open and the words “Oh Sh** coming out of the room. The smell was overwhelming. I went into the kitchen to find our little container of grass shrimp a very cooked container of grass shrimp. These little guys were hot pink and steaming. We looked at each other and began to laugh hysterically. Fred was trying to defrost them, but forgot he was doing so…and well…if smelt are attracted to stench, then we were gonna kill it.

We got to the dock and set up our buckets, rods and LED dock light. I’m not sure if ANY smelt angler has ever cooked their shrimp, but its toughness made it easy to rig on the teeny tiny sabiki hooks and pleasantly stayed on them despite the irritating silverside nibbles. The schools of fish began to appear and do continuous passes around the light. We put our lines, weighted with split shot sinkers, down just off the bottom and began to smoothly bounce our rods up and down. Typically the bigger smelt are underneath the schools of spearing, so that’s where we placed our lines. With every new species and new gear, it takes me a few misses before I know the feel of the fish and the proper way to securely hook and land it. After a few misses, I got my delivery, hook-up and landing down pat and started adding these guys to our empty 5 gallon bucket. Meanwhile, Fred is to my right with a rod under each arm bouncing and staring at me hoisting my smelts over the dock. I was out fishing him 10 to 1 and after a few hours, we only had about 23 in the bucket.

With our fingers frozen and faces red with wind burn, I told him I was going to call it after his next catch. He agreed. He pointed out a giant smelt that occasionally appeared at the top of the water swimming with the silversides. He declared this giant smelt to be his final catch. His determination was endearing. His eyes never left this smelt. His reflexes were quick. He made sure his bait was perfectly presented to this giant every time he appeared. After 20 minutes passed, I was beginning to think we were never going home. This smelt didn’t want the leather-tough shrimp that was practically hitting it in the head every pass he did. At this point I was wondering what the signs of hypothermia were. Then the spastic catch of this giant happened. “I got it, I got it” he yelled and in a single moment, Fred was heaving his line and behemoth smelt within inches of my head in one swoop over the dock. I couldn’t believe after all his mucking around that he had done it. I guess this smelt got so pissed off with this rig constantly bouncing in his face, that out of anger, he grabbed it. What happened next was like the scene from the Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston movie “The Bodyguard”. Our dock has spacing between each board. Enough spacing that a small bait fish could literally fall in-between the cracks and land back into the ocean. When Fred hoisted this guy over the dock, he had so much enthusiastic momentum going that it flew off the hook and hit the boards flailing. We could both see where this was going. He began to yell “No, No, No” and in that moment, I watched my robust fishing partner throw his body on top of the smelt like he was a bodyguard jumping on his client to take an intended bullet. I began to laugh so hysterically that I couldn’t breathe. I then gained some composure and said “Fred, I think you can get off of him now, you got him”. Fred peeled himself off the poor guy and lifted him over the bucket with a huge grin and de-hooked him. He then looked at me and said “Ok, we can go now”. We took some photos of his giant, measured him and headed home. He was 10 inches and one of the most memorable catches I have witnessed.

I belong to the Massachusetts Striped Bass Fishing club. This club has many old-salts who have been fishing for 40-50 years. As soon as I mentioned our “smelt” fishing to one of them, his eyes lit up. He began to ask me where we went, how he could get access to the dock and how many we caught. The excitement in his face was as if we were talking about giant bass or Bluefin tuna. I couldn’t understand why he was so excited until he told me when he was a little kid, he would go fishing with his father every winter and it was the most special time of his life and one he would love to recreate for that nostalgic feeling. Fishing is about the experience. No matter the species or outcome, it holds a special place in our hearts and memory banks. I will forever remember this experience and as a result, smelting will now be a part of our winter repertoire.

GoPogy goes Zoom..Zoom

September 30th, 2011  |  Published in Fishing Reports, Fishing Stories by allison

Our four year wedding anniversary was approaching and just like “normal” couples, we started to plan our special day and talk about gift exchange. Each holiday that calls for a gift, you can pretty much figure in the house of GoPogy, a fishing rod, reel, apparel or shiny tackle is involved. The one holiday that any type of fishing equipment is exempt is Valentine’s Day. I believe this was made official two years ago when Cupid brought me a Striped Bass Wall mount. Though I loved the fish, which is now hanging in my office, it didn’t have a red rose in its mouth or a diamond necklace adorning its gill plate.

In lieu of gifts on our anniversary, our tradition has been to visit the island where it all started for us…Nantucket. We met on Nantucket and said “I Do” there. Last year we didn’t make our annual trip due to a substantial “scheduling” conflict and we have regretted it ever since. So shortly after that, we made an addendum to our wedding vows which states:  “No Matter what is going on in our lives, we vow to visit Nantucket every September to celebrate the love we found in each other and together. (Fishing)

With the ferry tickets, lodging and sand vehicle booked, we headed to Nantucket to reminisce and fish. We didn’t plan our wedding date around fishing, I swear, but it just-so-happens that the bonito and false albacore also vacation on Nantucket in late September. The Albies are quite accurately called “Zooms”. The little tunas provide some of the most fun, light-tackle battles you’ll ever experience. On our last trip, I caught two of these guys, but my husband was not as fortunate. This year would be different. I think he snuck that into the vows as well that we would not leave the island without both of us landing one.

By the time we checked into the B&B, picked up the jeep, and had lunch, it was about 3pm. We headed out to Great Point to get our beach pass and scope out the scene. After all, it had been 2 years since we’d been there. We saw anglers congregated in one area, so my husband hopped out and rigged up. I said “I thought we were just coming out to take a look for tomorrow. I left my waders and boots at the hotel”. I think this was his plan. He wanted to get a head-start on me. His determination to land one before me was written all over his face. He practically pushed me down into the sand on his way to the surf. Ok, not exactly, but let’s just say I wasn’t feeling the anniversary love, but two can play at that game. So I grabbed my rod and ran up right next to him.

I had an advantage this year that was also a disadvantage. My first 2 trips surfcasting, I rented a 9 foot rod. Now the longer the rod, the further you can cast. However, the 9 to 5 ft. ratio really hindered how long I could work the water. So this year, I brought my pink flounder rod which is only 6.5 feet. Now let me explain myself. This pink rod has landed large bass, tournament winning flounder, my largest seabass, scup and bomber bluefish. It has never let me down and I can cast it until the end of time. Would I be able to get it out as far as the 9 foot rod? Not even close and I realized this. But here is where I made a modification to keep me even-keel with my last trip (successful I might add). The last time I was standing at the edge of the water where it met the sand. This year, I had waders and boots making it possible to walk in 2-3 feet of water.  So basically…I think my cast ended up being the same distance. So with 2 hours left before sunset, we were casting with anticipation and excitement alongside the locals. My husband’s line went off and I could see him giddy as can be to my left, so I made my way close to him with the camera to capture his “moment”. Now he is famous for saying things like “This is a striper” then two seconds later saying “No, this is totally a bluefish” then 2 seconds later saying “I’m  not exactly sure what this is”. So when he hooks up, you can never tell. Since he has never caught an albie, this was going to be the case. Cause let me tell you, if you catch an albie, there is absolutely NO MISTAKING it. Needless to say…the first day would produce only a beach pass and some baby bluefish.

Day 2

We headed to Bill Fisher Tackle in the morning to grab a couple lures and get the low down. The shoppie told us that a couple anglers caught 6 zooms the previous morning, but this morning he didn’t catch any. He informed us that anglers were catching on incoming and outgoing tides and on both sides of the point. So we grabbed some sandwiches next door and began the drive to the beach with the tunes blaring.

We began working the beach at 11am. Let me just say that they need to rename Great Point Seal Point. These seals are absolutely relentless, sneaky and downright mean. I used to love seals and think they were adorable. This year changed all that. We had been working the beach for hours and miles. We found a pod of fish, but they were bluefish. We can catch tons of bluefish in Boston Harbor, so for us, we were like…NEXT! We then moved to the “seal” side. My husband hooked up and at that point, he screamed “Albie”. As I said, there is absolutely no mistaking an albie. The Zoom, Zoom is indescribable. At times you think you may run out of line when they are making their statement. I looked over and he did have one. You know how I know? A giant seal was making its way over to him. I kept yelling “Hurry Up”. Sad thing is, when you hook an albie, you shouldn’t hurry up. It’s a memorable experience and one that should be enjoyed each minute that it lasts. Well, I then saw the huge swirl on top of the water and the look of despair on hubby’s face. I quickly put the camera away and ran back to my spot. Fred was back up at the tackle station (jeep) re-rigging and cursing the entire time.

I hate to say it, but this exact episode happened again. It was almost like someone video-taped it and pushed “replay”. I felt horrible for him. We decided to go to the other side since Fred was down to 1 deadly dick. We decided bluefish weren’t that bad and ended the day at Allison – 6 blues, Fred-4 blues with 2 lost lures.

Day 3

Originally we were to have the jeep back by noon on our last day. Taking into account yesterday’s substantial “loss” and lack of official Albie catches, the first item on the day’s agenda was calling the jeep rental company to extend. We then stopped in at Bill Fisher Tackle again to buy some more Deadly Dick’s with our heads down and our excitement for chit-chat with the shoppie at a minimum. We grabbed our sandwiches and started the trek back out to Not-So-Great Point. The ride was in silence. No music, no talks of the “damage” we were gonna do. I was more than prepared to convince my husband to extend our trip another day, or as long as it took for one of us to land a damn albie. The plan was to go to “our spot” and then give it an hour and go to “Seal” side. As we were about to pass the entrance to Seal-side, we saw a ton of anglers lined up over there. Fred made a hard turn and we were once again going head-to-head with the furry thieves. We had enough Deadly Dick’s to last us all it was do or die time. As I pulled my rod out of the jeep, one of my guides was literally hanging off of it. I showed Fred and in one quick-movement, he ripped it off and said “there ya go”. He didn’t have time to be bothered with problems or questions, he was on a mission. As he was getting ready to head down to the water he said “Oh and your top guide ring is also missing…that’s gonna be a problem..See ya”. REALLY?! And he was off. Part of me was thinking “sabotage”. I mean I was the only one that caught an albie on our last trip, but he seemed happy for me. Could it be so? Then I looked at him and I knew deep down inside he cared. So I looked at my rod and had a little one-to-one with it. “You’ve never let me down before. Just get me an albie and I can put you to rest, I promise”.

I then headed out to the water with all the guys. I was casting for about 30 minutes when the guy to my right hooked up. Then 5 minutes later, Fred hooked up; he was on my left. I thought…damn, I’m just not casting far enough. I ran over to Fred, fumbling to get to the camera. The whole time he is screaming “where’s the seal”? I’m not sure if he saw a seal in the vicinity or if he just knew it was going to appear. Well at that exact moment, I spotted the seal. It was less than a foot away from Fred’s line. I pretended I didn’t see it, since the ending was going to be inevitable. I really wanted to turn around and go back to my spot and cast, but I wanted to show that I was hopeful for him and supportive. So I stood there with the camera until the swirl and swearing occurred. He lost another. Seal-1, Fred-0.

I went back to my spot and casted and casted, each time looking at my missing and broken guides. I then looked up and a seal was right in front of me staring at me. It was so close, if I reached out I could touch it. I started fumbling to get my camera out. Fred’s yelling at me to get out of the water. By the time I got the camera out, Mr. Seal was gone. My attitude started to turn. I began to second-guess my strategy with my trusty flounder rod. Then I thought, you know there is a guy in Boston who lands huge fish on a Sponge-Bob Square pants rod. Just keep casting Miles. And just then my line began to zoom. I was on. I began to back up, look around for seals and reel like crazy. I didn’t see any seals. I didn’t realize this, but I think the seal that stopped to watch me saw my gear, my cast distance and determined that he was wasting his time hanging around me. I handed Fred the camera and continued to reel, while looking at my rod. There was definitely a chance that my line would break. It had been rubbing on metal for the last 3 hours. I am proud to say that my trusty rod made it. I landed the albie successfully. Women came over to watch and I was so proud that the only woman out there fishing caught one. Allison-1, Seal-o.

Fred expressed his happiness for me and I know it was sincere. Even though I was elated, I was also very sad. I wanted him to catch his albie. I headed back out, pressure now off of me. I saw the guy to my right hooked up. He then began walking towards me. He had a seal on. He was determined to walk the beach until the seal bit the fish and let go of his tackle. I never saw him again. The action died down and after no catches, we decided to move to the other side of the beach to our spot. Now we hadn’t caught any albies or seen anyone catch albies over there yet. Then the miracle happened. We were by ourselves and the distinctive sound started to play. Zoom..Zoom..Zoom. Fred was on. We were on the no-seal side. He was going to do it. I didn’t take out the camera for fear of jinxing him. When he got the fish close to the edge, he began to run. (I have never seen him run so quickly). Every time I ask him to go for a jog, he says no. Now I know he CAN actually jog. His first albie was caught and released.

An angler witnessed this and jumped out of his jeep and began to cast next to me. I caught another albie and Fred caught 2 more. Our spot gave us the magic we came for in the last 2 hours of our trip. And my rod hung on until 30 minutes before departure. I casted it out and watched my lure go one way and my line go the other. It was done for. It gave all it had and will be retired with many catches and memories under its guides. I have literally been in mourning since we got back. I miss it already.

We left Nantucket the way we came. Smiles on our faces, extreme love for each other and more adventures and memories with each other that outweigh any other gift.

Taking Kids Fishing Can Teach Even the Most Experienced Angler a Thing or 2

August 30th, 2011  |  Published in Boston Harbor, Fishing Stories by allison

I am a true advocate when it comes to “sharing” fishing knowledge and experiences with those who truly want to learn about the sport. There is a very special group of individuals that hold a soft-spot in my heart when it comes to this. All they have to do is walk towards me on the dock or beach with a fishing rod and tackle box tucked underneath their little arms and a smile on their face, and I will begin spewing fishing tips, tricks and spots without them even saying hello to me. These are the little kids and future anglers of America that are just getting into fishing and learning about the sport. I’m not sure if it’s because they remind me of myself. (Not because I wear juniors size Grundens or weigh the same as a 12 year old boy either!)

I mean after all, it was only four years ago that I was that impressionable sponge walking down the dock with a huge grin of anticipation for my day out on the water. I hung on every word spoken and watched every fisherman and angler while recording it in my memory bank to mimic later and see if I could repeat their motions and actions. That is the great thing about kids and sometimes their downfall. They are uber impressionable and always LISTENING. They watch your every move and can mimic them to perfection. By the end of the day, they become your mini-me. It is adorable unless you drop them off with their parents and they begin swearing like a green horn on the Deadliest Catch.

We introduced our nephew to fishing last year. I don’t have any children, but I know if I had a son, he would be identical to my nephew. My nephew is the spitting image of my husband. He is definitely his mini-me. Fishing is the ONLY sport that he continuously asks to participate in. He’ll do anything and is good at anything that he tries, but he always asks his parents if he can go fishing with us. He is only 8 years old, so when he brought his daily planner to a family dinner to book his next fishing trip with us, I almost fell over. This little guy meant business. We took him out earlier in the summer flounder fishing and he caught a State qualifying tournament flounder, a striped bass, mackerel and sculpin. Basically, each time we have taken him out, we’ve put him on fish. Let me be even more specific, we’ve put him on exactly what he asked to catch. This kid only knows “catching”. He has not been introduced yet to “fishing”.

There is a big difference in Fishing vs. Catching. As we all know, fishing does not always equate to catching. With fishing comes disappointment and heartache. I give Charter Boats my utmost respect. It’s very difficult to catch what an angler asks for every time. No matter what the age or gender, if you’re looking at your fishing guest’s face filled with excitement and anticipation….all you see is pressure. The sweat begins to bead up on your face and your heart rate begins to increase. You gotta produce and you gotta produce big. They’ve been dreaming about their big day for days and have told all their friends they’re gonna catch a huge fish. You never want to be the one to dash that dream. We’ve been asked a number of times if we do charters. I’ll never say never on this one. To-date, we’ve only taken out friends and family and thankfully always produced. But at the end of each trip, we always say we’ll never do charters. Too much pressure!

Now imagine taking out an 8 year old who only knows catching and catching decent sized fish. Knowing how the bass fishing has been in Boston Harbor, I began my damage control early.

“Now you know your Aunt and Uncle don’t always catch, right?”

“Sometimes the fish just aren’t feeding.”

“The water has been really warm.”

I was pulling all the reasons out of why we may not catch. The previous days of fishing were very hard. This was not going to be like his previous trips and we knew it. Well we were right!

First spot we dropped anchor and began to chum. We taught him all about chumming and chunking. You could see the wheels turning and he began to recite EXACTLY everything we explained to him. The sponge was soaking it all in. 30 minutes went by and no fish. We pulled anchor and went out to deeper water. Because the water temps were high, the fish must be deeper. We found our second spot and anchored.

Our nephew began to chum. He said “I have a good feeling about this spot”. My husband and I looked at each other. Silently we both knew what the other was thinking. We’re screwed. We had never fished this spot and didn’t know if it was going to produce. Logically it should. Structure, water temperature, tide and current all pointed to our nephew’s prediction. You could hear the doubt in my Captain’s voice and tone. Meanwhile our nephew was befriending a bird with a broken wing by our boat. He began to feed it our chum and talk to it. We were chumming heavily, so the feeding of his new pet wouldn’t interfere with our feverish attempt at catching the little man a bass. If they were anywhere in the vicinity, we would catch em’. When it was time to swap out the chunks, we had him reel in the lines. First one he picked up, he began to say that he had a big one! Oh, the forever optimist. He had a big one alright. The biggest of them all….the ocean bottom.

The next reel in, he had a Starfish hitch-hiking on it. The oohs and aahs of that catch lasted 10 minutes. He said “Uncle I caught a fish. Star fish. It has the word fish in it”. Then he went back to feeding the seagull. After another starfish catch, we moved to our last spot. Time and tide was running out. After we anchored, he began to try and locate his pet seagull. He then said it again…”I have a good feeling about this spot”. Meanwhile, Captain and First Mate were scratching our heads and praying for a freaking fish. Any fish. Any size. Let the boy reel in something other than the ocean floor and a Cape Cod coffee table decorative item. Let’s do this!

Captain was working hard on the other side of the boat humming, hawing and casting. I decided to eat a sandwich to relieve one pain I had. Then our nephew says “What a beautiful day”. I was taken back and replied with a huge grin saying “You’re absolutely right. It doesn’t get much better than this”. It clicked. He didn’t care if he caught a fish. He just wanted to GO FISHING. He wanted to be out on the water, enjoying the day, feeding the pet seagulls, the star fish and being with his Aunt and Uncle. We were the ones putting the pressure on ourselves. We not once took the time to look around us and take in the experience.  The sunshine, lake-like conditions, and hilarious phrases coming out of our 8 year old-going on 40 year old nephew’s mouth. We tend to get into our competitive and perfection mode when we take others out fishing. When in reality, catching a fish is a bonus. Spending time with our friends and family is what it’s all about. After all, we’re not a charter. The funny thing is, we said we wouldn’t do charters because of this pressure, but mentally we are acting like a charter. A wave of happiness came over me, and just then the line went off. Coincidence? I’d like to believe otherwise.

Our nephew got to reel in a fish. He brought it to the boat all by himself. He caught himself a 32 inch Bluefish. He was ecstatic. He drove us back to the dock, letting the Captain relax a little and have his turn taking it all in. We were out there to teach our nephew how to fish. He did learn a new method of fishing, but he also taught us one of life’s most important lessons….find the good in each experience. It’s there, you just have to have your eyes open and seep it in like a sponge!

The Heavy Weight Smack-Down is coming to Boston!

August 8th, 2011  |  Published in Boston Harbor, Fishing Reports, Striped Bass by allison

Each year before the fishing season starts, anglers polish their gear, organize their tackle boxes and watch re-runs of fishing shows in anticipation of the months ahead. They envision this year being the year they join the “50” pound club. GoPogy is no exception to that. In fact, the wall space in my home is already reserved for my 50lb. mount.

The last month has been slow for catching large bass in Boston Harbor. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of blitzes and legal sized bass to provide eager anglers with excitement and physical “warm-ups” for what’s to come. Heck, we even caught legal sized bass on flounder gear in May. But I’m honed in on the heavy-weights and have been for the past couple of years. I caught my largest bass last year at the end of August and I’m happy to report that we are on target for the same trend this year. The larger bass are now making their way into the Harbor and I think it’s going to be another great Fall season.

Reports from Charter Boats and angling friends over the past two weeks have been consistent. No big bass in abundance. Catching a 36 inch was considered a stellar day of fishing. These reports have prompted us to get some “projects” done while keeping our ears out for some promising reports. I’m not sure if we were just amped up from shark week or possibly the report of the world record being broken for striped bass gave us that extra little push we needed, but we decided to get back into the game, however “small” it might be. Sometimes you just need to hear the scream of your reel, see your rod bent in half and get a work out in order to get you out of the lull you’re in. Well we went out and experienced just that. Our faith was back and so were the heavy weights. We caught decent 39-43 inch fish. Our first 30 pounder of the year broke the mold and told us, just like last year at this time, we should expect consistent heavy-hitters. The big bass are starting to move into the Harbor and I am once again dreaming of my personal best and 50lb club induction. (I will definitely take a 40lb+ though!) Gear up anglers, the season is just heating up and the smack-down is about to begin.

GoPogy..One Step Closer to Sharkin’

July 26th, 2011  |  Published in Fishing Stories, Fresh Catch Recipes by allison

It is no secret to those who know me that I am deathly afraid of sharks. I’m not sure if it is the direct result of growing up in Florida and hearing about the yearly shark attacks to surfers and beach-goers, or the fact that I saw the movie Jaws when I was too young to see it.

I could be melting on the beach like an ice-cream cone in 100 degree temps and refuse to submerge myself in the ocean water past my ankles. So when my husband went shark fishing a few years ago with some friends, I easily bowed out of the trip. Me pass up on a fishing trip…unheard of.

Each year Martha’s Vineyard is home to the Monster Shark Tournament. I have been invited to go and experience the weigh in, but have been too afraid of the nightmares and night-sweats I’m sure will follow. No beer is worth that. One of our dearest fishing friends entered the tournament. He did indeed catch a Thresher and a ton of “Blues” during the two day event, and although he didn’t win, he did hand out trophies to his inner circle of angler friends. My husband got the call and immediately started to salivate and a noticeable bounce in his step instantly started to form.

Dinner Time: I was working on my computer when I could literally hear a dinner bell ring. It’s so nice when your husband cooks dinner for you and has it romantically waiting on the table. I have never seen him prepare a meal in such a short amount of time. I felt like I couldn’t get to the table quickly enough for him. Because of my sheer fear of sharks and those scary teeth, I wasn’t excited to eat one either. I was already trying to come up with an excuse of why I wasn’t hungry.

Change of Heart? When I took my first bite, I was not at all prepared to love it, but I DID! Most recipes call for grilling when it comes to Thresher, but being in “Del Boca Vista Condo Phase 2” (for you Seinfeld fans), we don’t have a grill. My husband simply brushed it with butter and topped it with Chef Paul’s Magic Blackened Redfish Seasoning. Some local supermarkets carry this or for you fishing addicts, on your next trip to Bass Pro Shops, they carry this in their grilling section. He pan fried it to completion and served with a side of salad and bread.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still afraid of sharks, but now I have to go shark fishing to stock up on thresher. It has now been added to my list of “favorites”…for eating that is!! Damn thresher, why’d you have to be so good; now I’m going to have to face my fear of sharks.

Before Shot

Before Shot

Thresher Steak "After" Shot

Thresher Steak "After" Shot

Meeting Royalty of a different kind…The Majestic Silver King

July 20th, 2011  |  Published in Fishing Reports, Fishing Stories by allison

Having not taken a vacation in two years, the destination choice for our upcoming spring getaway involved some serious consideration. When I say I♥fishing, I should clarify and say I ♥ Big Game Fishing. Call it a size complex or just the thrill of catching something that no one believes I caught, but I can’t imagine myself targeting and dreaming of anything less than some of the largest, fastest and most challenging saltwater fish in the ocean. One fish that I have been intrigued by is the Sailfish. Swimming at speeds of up to 70mph, its magnificent sail, and its water acrobatics put it right at the top of my “To Catch” list. Another species I have wanted to see up close and personal is the Permit. The first time I saw a picture of an angler holding one of these, I fell in love with its cute face and frying pan body. We knew we wanted to go somewhere sweltering hot to help us thaw out from the wintery New England weather, so we chose Key West, Florida. We did a lot of research to find our Charter Captain, R.T. Trosset, who has caught all of the species on our vacation checklist. The most difficult part of the planning was the waiting.

We booked a full and half day of fishing with R.T. Our first day was the full day offshore to look for Sails. However, when we arrived in Key West, R.T. informed us that the Sails had pushed out due to a change in the wind, but assured us that he would still be working hard to find any that may have remained. I was so impressed with this Captain and his first mate. We know how difficult it is to find exactly what you are looking for on the exact day you want to find it. Fishing is by no means a guarantee. Needless to say, we didn’t find any sailfish. However, we had hours of reeling in Mahi Mahi, Amberjacks and my beloved Permit. And the Permit is even cuter in person.

The second day of fishing, we met R.T. at his house. He had his Hell’s Bay Flats boat geared up and ready to go out Tarpon fishing. R.T. has 183 IGFA records under his belt, and Tarpon fishing is one of his and his wife’s favorite types of fishing. The way he described Tarpon fishing, you could see the passion and spark that all of us addicts have. I knew we were in for a special experience. If he had so much love for this, I had a good feeling we were soon to fall in love too. I had never read about Tarpon or even had it on my radar, so I was entering this evening of fishing blindly. I was also unaware that Tarpon can get up to sizes of 200-300lbs. R.T. definitely listened to why I wanted to catch a Sailfish and found an alternate that made me almost forget the Sail entirely. (At least for now)

The wind had picked up and we could see the worry in RT’s face. The wind was going to make it difficult for the Tarpon to see our bait. We moved a few times after no hits. I was so enamored with the sunset that I wasn’t stressing out just yet. As it got darker, time seemed to be ticking away faster and faster. Was this going to be one of those dreaded charters where you don’t catch? Were we going to get skunked? These thoughts started going through my mind. As soon as I started reliving the previous day and reassuring myself that if we didn’t catch, it was ok, my line went off. I grabbed the rod, stood up and began cranking on the reel. Now RT had said something earlier about “Bowing to the Silver King”. He instructed “Now Allison, when the Tarpon jumps, bow down to him. Point your rod down to give him slack and then start reeling and lift up once he re-enters the water”. I guess I should have been more prepared. I didn’t have my glasses and it was dark. So it was virtually impossible for me to see it when it happened. It all took place in a flash. Therefore, I never bowed and the hook pulled. RT rigged another line and sent it out flying. Sometimes fishing is like a big scary roller coaster. Until you go on it once, you don’t know what to expect. Now that I had been through the Tarpon jumping and got the “feel” for it, I was confident I could do it. I always have those moments after losing a fish, of looking up to the sky and pleading for a chance to redeem myself. I couldn’t go out like this. Was this going to be our only Tarpon? Did I screw it up for everyone? Poor RT, I could tell this was not going to be an easy guarantee for him. And now I think he knew it too with this first missed landing.  Thankfully, the line went screeching again. I jumped up, said a silent prayer, and began the process with more caution. This fish ran and ran and ran. I can distinctively remember asking RT “when is it going to jump, you said they always jump”. Poor guy, to him it must have sounded like a little kid on a long car ride asking “are we there yet” a million times. And then it came….the Big Jump. I bowed down to the Silver King in time and when the jump that seemed like minutes was over, I felt the line and he was still there. THANK GOD! By now I was losing breath and strength in my arms. My husband grabbed RT’s rod belt and put it around me. Well just like always, it didn’t fit. My husband cinched this belt around my waist and held it. Being married as long as we have and fishing together as long as we have, he knew that I NEEDED to land this fish. If anything went wrong…he would never hear the end of it. There was one point where I screamed “The belt is too tight, I can’t breathe”.    

After about a 30 minute fight, I got the Tarpon to the boat. It was an incredible sight. The feeling I had when this silver beauty was up close was the same feeling I had the day I landed the Bluefin Tuna; a feeling of personal accomplishment and triumph. You can’t take these fish out of the water, so it was a challenge to capture the size and magnitude of the experience. RT has been catching these fish for years and said this fish was around 180 pounds. Again, he was determined to give me the experience I had talked about. He held that beast while my husband fumbled with the camera trying to get the flash to work and successfully take a picture with all 3 of us in it. The splash and tidal waves this fish put out while we were having our “Photo-op” was incredible. RT looked like he had all but jumped in the ocean and taken a swim. We landed 5 of these fish that night. The passion and excitement that RT had at the beginning of the night had now been transferred to me. It was no Sail, but it was massive, provided jumps of a true acrobat, weighed in at at almost 200lbs., was beautiful and gave me the fight and experience of a lifetime. I met a true Royal King of the ocean; the tarpon…and he was truly majestic!

GoPogy – Tautogs and Tires?

November 8th, 2010  |  Published in Fishing Stories by allison

As the season was drawing to a close, Gopogy finally had some time to get back into the fishing game. Despite not being able to fish nearly a quarter as much as I did last year, I can say that I tried more things this year when it came to my fishing game. Last year I was all about fishing live pogies. Don’t get me wrong, live bait out-fishes all other methods of catching fish. But this year the theme for me was definitely “trying new things” in all aspects.
So rather than fish live pogies, I branched out and got into fishing wooden plugs, lighted lures, casting lures and trolling lures. It is so easy to get stuck on one method, especially if it is producing results. But becoming a better fisherman or fisherwoman, means expanding your knowledge and skills. Along with experimenting with different methods of fishing, each year I try to go fishing for a species I haven’t caught yet. Well, one of those fish on my list was Tautog. I’ve heard they are one of the most tasty fish swimming the waters in the Cape and are feisty fighters. While visiting one of the best fisherman in the business on Friday, we were showing him another product not used in New England that we think may do well, which led to hours of fish talk as usual. Next thing we know, we are planning a trip for Tautog fishing on Sunday. Forecast….not so good. Some people recognize me by my Grundens, so I pulled these rubber beauties out of the bin and packed about 5 layers of clothes for Sunday.
I felt like the kid from The Christmas Story. It was very difficult to put my arms down. But I was determined to fish for Tog and learn from one of the best. Our friend was telling us of a “honey hole” he had that produces a lot of tog and big ones to boot. The plan…hit the hole and get our limit, while weeding thru the togs for just the biggest fish….head home in two hours. Well as you all know, the best laid plans….well in Gopogy’s world our plans never go as planned.
We headed out to find the “honey hole”. The windows and door in the cabin were buttoned down so we could stay warm. We got to the vicinity of our spot and told our captain that our fish-finder doesn’t work. We got it fixed this year and it worked once before it didn’t work again. I told him if we ever decided to do charters, we could call it “By Sight” Charters. We have fished without a working device for 2 seasons now and although it is NOT COOL, we have adapted. He sighed and assured us he could find it by looking around. Well the shore had many of the same looking rock formations. It was blowing about 30 and the temps out on the water were in the 40’s. It started to rain.
We guessed and made about 30 drops of the anchor and fished the areas for 10 minutes each. Remember, if you start to chum and don’t catch within 15 minutes….MOVE! My husband was dropping and pulling anchors so much that I knew what I was in store for the next day. A lot of “My back is killing me”. Although we never found his honey hole, he did take us to a few spots where he has caught tog. And we caught. We caught the limit and average size was 18 inches. But no big Togs. Lesson anglers….although you have Waypoints marked in your GPS unit, don’t become so reliant on it that you don’t pay attention to where your hot spots actually are. Note the landmarks and make sure you can find it if your depth finder isn’t working.
So after 6 hours in the cold, windy, rainy weather, we headed in. We actually saw one large boat head out and was taking a pounding. After about 5 minutes, we saw him head back in. It was not nice out there. We got back to the boat ramp and pulled the boat out of the water. Well the boat was leaning. Flat tire on the trailer. It was literally sliced all the way on the outside. Great. A 2 hour ride back to Boston. I don’t think so. Now, this is the first time all year that we have trailered our boat to fish. Plan? What Plan? My husband stayed with our beloved baby while my friend and I headed out to look for a new tire…..on a Sunday….on the Cape. You guessed it, nothing was open. We must have made 30 stops, and ended up in Hyannis. Long story short….we got back to Boston at 8pm. Original plan: Back by 1pm.
We are now back in contact with the company that “fixed” our sounder to resolve that problem that messed up our plan. I must say anglers, watch out next year. I can’t imagine how much better we will be at fishing once we have a working fish-finder. Oh Yeah!! And I am busy looking for a Tautog recipe for tonight’s dinner. Bottom Line: fishing is always exciting to me and I always learn something. GoPogy can mark Tog off the list. It will definitely be a memorable species for me.

Nov 2010 Tautogs

Big Bait…Big Fish…Big Accomplishment!

August 24th, 2010  |  Published in Boston Harbor, Fishing Reports, Fishing Stories, Striped Bass by allison

Every week we pinch ourselves and say “what a season”. Things are still shaping up to make this year the best it’s been in recent history. The numerous pods of various bait fish continue to amaze local anglers and cause feeding frenzies inside and outside the harbor. Many people didn’t even have to use their fish-finders this week, but rather secured their fishing spots by following the diving birds. The spike mackerel seem to be the talk of the harbor. It is the end of August and this baitfish is literally everywhere. Anglers have been able to Sabiki them up in large numbers and live-line them for bass & blues. Every fish we caught this week was so full of mackerel and herring that they were coughing them up on their way into the boat. The only complaint to the bait situation in Boston Harbor is the lack of top water pogy action. There are definitely pogies out there, they just aren’t in the large schools yet like past seasons. Gigantic bass and blues have been reported from Gloucester to Nantasket Beach. I was able to spend two hours reeling in over 2 dozen keepers in the midst of a 6 day blitz at Hull Gut. Biggest fish to come to the surface and hit my Yozuri Mackerel shallow diver was 38 inches. We were heading out of the Gut and I convinced my husband, as I do every trip, to just give me 5 more minutes. The water was so choppy, and the number of boats cutting others off was both amazing and frustrating at the same time. I threw out my yozuri shallow diving plug and I watched a huge swirl right around the landing spot of my cast. Oh yeah baby….it was on. As I willed the fish to grab my lure, it did. My little bait runner reel was peeling out. My pink flounder rod was bent in half. The entire time I was reeling in the fish, I was praying for my rod to just hold it together. “Please don’t break, please don’t break”. There was a charter boat right next to us, cheering me on. “That’s how its done!” they screamed. After 10 minutes of praying to the pink gods, I got the fish to the boat. The fish was 38 inches. Although I caught my biggest flounder on that rod this year, it was not even close to 38 inches.

38 inch Striper caught on Flounder rodAnother great spot this week was Broad Sound. I have never seen bass chase and harass pogies across the top of the water and in such great numbers as I did this week. I literally watched the shadows of bass rise to the surface to chase my pogy. My pogy looked like it was running on top of the water with a huge surfer wave right behind it. I literally screamed “Go Pogy, Go!” and then the line just began to peel out feverishly. I had a circle hook, so although I wanted to cross the eyes and yank back on the stick, I had to watch the line go and go and go. Now I was praying to the line god. Please don’t let him spool me before he swallows the pogy. The pogies in the harbor this year are huge. This means the only fish that is able to take it completely is a big fish. So good news and bad news. If I lose it, I lose big. So as I watched the line go out and the sweat began to drip from my forehead, I waited for the fish to stop and shake its head. On the fourth run, I thought, “this is it”. I began to reel in and the fish didn’t fight back. It was tired out.  My husband was busy reeling in his own fish as I brought mine boatside. I kept yelling at him…”are you ready”.  He came over with the boga grip and hoisted it onto the boat. Once the fish was on the boat, the hook practically fell out of its mouth. If I had let the tension off at any point, this fish would have swam away. The fish weighed in at 37.2 pounds and measured 45.5 inches. Even though I haven’t fished as much this year as last, this has been by far, my best season yet and I’m just getting serious. These fish are feeding and feeding hard. We caught a 20 pounder and a dozen bluefish in the double-digits that trip. One day later I heard about the 61 pounder caught in Newburyport and I have to say, it didn’t take away any of the giddiness I felt for landing my 37. Not bad for a 90lb gal.

37.2 pounds 45.5 inches

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