“Wind’s from the North,” my friend Phil admonished, as we got in the boat to go fishing Saturday. “Don’t expect much. Fish don’t like that North wind.”
I was expecting nothing — based on years of failed attempts as a kid — but I thought: Who cares? Day like this on the water? Heaven with or without fish for dinner.
Now Phil is a pretty accomplished fisherman, and in certain circles he is downright notorious. Others stalk him with binoculars and generally scratch their heads about how he manages to catch mo’ bigger better than anyone else. He seems to know where the fish live. Call it a hunch, a sixth sense or just the Gladwell-ian 10,000 hours, but it’s fair to say fish should tremble when “Betty’s Boys” heads out past the drawbridge.
First stop was the currents of Woods Hole itself and there were others there already. Phil looked at one group with disdain, casting along shore near Mink Point: “Won’t get anything in there today,” he chuckled as he dropped his lure and started trolling. Now he swore me to secrecy so I can not tell you the direction we trolled, what that incredible lure looked like, or which patch of rocks we skirted but in the first FIVE MINUTES, I had a striped bass on the line which, with guidance, I reeled into the boat. A keeper!
Within a half hour, my son Charlie had hauled in an even bigger one, north of 20 lbs. Then Phil threw his hands up — “We’re outta here” — and whisked us west on Vineyard Sound to another one of his secret spots, “between the grey tote and the stairs to nowhere.” Along the way we passed about 30 other boats casting for false albacore (it’s derby time on Martha’s Vineyard as well); one of them spotted us and followed.
Coming in close to land, Phil cut the engine, his friend Lisa tossed an anchor. Then he broke out the live eels. Yes, I said eels, squirming and wiggling all over the place. Phil deftly hooked several through the head and and started casting. Genius. My son Sam landed another bass within a half hour, too small to keep but the fight was worth it and we got a nice picture.
Back in Woods Hole, we hauled our catch across town to weigh in for the Calcutta Fishing Derby sponsored by the Woods Hole Business Association. We will surely attend the October 14th award ceremony (at the Landfall) to see if we won and claim our free appetizer for entering. But it’s safe to say we are already winners with our fridge full and our deepening friendship with Phil.
Now this might sound like a great fish tale, but here are a few photos to prove it really happened. Thanks to Phil Stanton.