My wife, aka the most wonderfulest woman in the world, granted me the gift of time. Oh, that precious gift of Time. For Father's Day, I thought the entire weekend was going to be reserved for family, which I was fully prepared to do. But it turned out that only Sunday was deemed family time, and Saturday was all mine to do whatever I pleased. Immediately, a big smile crept up on my face. I started planning the 24 hours I was given and had 7 different species swimming in my brain all at once. I knew I should focus on one or two, but I couldn't help myself.
Phase 1. Target species: Speckled Trout and Red Drum. I got up at 2am and drove down to Back River. I launched at 4am and met up with Forrest, who had already been on the water since midnight but didn't have anything to show for it (unusual for Forrest). That reminded of my last trip to that area and I thought of all the hundreds of casts I made without a hook up to anything worthwhile. I kept hope and tossed out my topwater plug. I twitched three times and my wish was granted... a blessing from Mother Nature and Father time.
I thought it was a release citation at first, but after looking closely at the photos when I got home, I realized the mouth was open in all my pictures.
After releasing it, Forrest said " You know you're not going to catch anything else all day, right?". I realized what he was talking about and thought "Oh, CRAP! It's only 4:30 am and I have a lot planned for the rest of the day!" I told myself to keep hope, it's just a bunch of crazy bologna voodoo, but I knew, catching a good fish on the very first cast is bad luck.
I spent about 5 hours out there with Forrest and that was the only fish I caught. Forrest hooked up to several but didn't land anything (maybe he did after I left). He had a few red drum hook ups too, but they all came off. 9am came around and it was time for me to move on to the next place.
Phase 2. Target species: Tautog (not in season until the 25th, but still fun to catch), Sheepshead, Black Drum, Flounder and the longshot cobia (sightcast if I saw one). I stopped at Ocean's East to get some bait and expressed my concerns to Kevin about targeting too many species at once. Anyway, they didn't have what I wanted so I settle for alternatives (bluecrab and clams instead of fiddlers). After breakfast, I launched under the CBBT around 11am and went all the way to the 1st island. Long (very long) story short, every brown shape ended up being a ray instead of cobia, no sheepshead, no black drum, no flounder, one 14" tog, and a bunch of trash fish. I found a big school of BIG red drum on the side of the island, but they didn't want to eat anything. Live crab, chunk crab, fresh croaker, clam, bucktail n gulp... they were spooked. Plus, there were a lot of boaters around. While I wasted my time trying to for the big reds, a kayaker I met out there earlier ended up doing fairly well with the togs. He was using self-caught fiddlers and had several togs up to a very nice 22". If I had stayed focused when I first started tog fishing (when I caught the 14") maybe I could have found more. But the thought of big black drum, which I saw a few of, distracted me. Same thing happened with the flounder. I only tried a little while and later on I talked to a boater who had his limit with the biggest going 25". I should have picked a primary target and stuck with it. So many fish! So little time!
I was off the water by 6:30pm and got dinner at the Pirates of Lynnhaven club meeting. The food was excellent with company to match. I had every intention of going to the HRBT afterwards to look for stripers, but the wind picked up and storms were rolling by. So with Mother Nature and Father Time against me, along with the curse of the first fish, I reluctantly gave in and went home several hours ahead of schedule.
I had a great father's day with the kids (pool, bbq, family time), but before the weekend was over, my wife told me she was sorry she didn't get me anything cool as a gift. I smacked the crap out of her and... I'm just messin'.... I reminded her, and myself, that I was a very lucky guy with countless blessings. In the end, even if I complain about a few fishing trips and talk about some stupid voodoo fish curse, her giving me the time is not taken for granted and I thanked her for the millionth time.