This really should be a story about a failed flounder fishing trip but with a little help from the fishing Gods and a stray mackerel this fishing story has a striped bass happy ending.
I had a dozen sea worms left over from the day before and a few hours to kill so I decided to see if I could find some flounder out in front of the jetties at Green Harbor. The fishing was slow but the conditions were flat calm and it since it was a warm sunny Saturday morning I stuck it out longer than I normally would when the fishing is this bad. For the next three hours I caught about 20 skate and only a few small flounder.
During this failed bottom fishing adventure I had a few interesting taps on one of my flounder rigs that didn’t feel like skate or flounder, at the time it wasn’t clear what it was and I couldn’t seem to set the hook but I kept trying. After several attempts I managed to hook the nibbler and to my surprise it is a decent sized mackerel. Fishing in less than 20 feet of water on a sandy bottom in mid August you would not expect to catch a mackerel on a flounder hook but weird sh!t happens sometimes. Into the livewell goes the mackerel and the bottom fishing continues. The remainder of the flounder fishing went about as good as the beginning (many skate, few flounder) and with the sea worms almost gone I pulled the plug and decided to go cycle my lobster gear. That is about the time I remember I have a live mackerel on board and to add to the excitement it is almost high tide. Like a kid in the candy story I prepare a Shimano 6500 Baitrunner with a new leader and circle hook and motor over to Farnham Rock. I hooked the mackerel through the nostrils with the circle hook at let him swim freely on the secondary baitrunner drag. I had set up on the left side of Farnham in 50 feet of water and let drift bring me up onto the structure there. I was on my third drift and starting to think it wasn’t meant to be when the reel starts peeling off line, fish on. After a quick but fun battle I have a nice 35 inch Striper in the boat. Knowing when to switch gears and knowing how and where to fish the live mackerel were the keys to this salvaged trip. On a good day if I had ten live mackerel the first eight or nine would have been eaten by bluefish or dogfish. Since I only had one shot (one bait) it was especially gratifying to have it play out the way it did. A big part of successful fishing is being able to switch gears when the opportunity presents itself and on this day that is exactly what I did.