GoPogy goes Zoom..Zoom

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

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.

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