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From: Pez Rojo
Time: 7:25:48 AM
From the way-back file
Flounder hunt of 2011
It was Wednesday afternoon; steak night, well fat into our annual fall coastal excursion, a few fish had been lined in from the surf, Bill’s 350 extracted from a sand entombment, bore witness to a brilliant helicopter rescue along with a summiting of a formidable thrashing of wind/weather in the preceding days,,,One would surmise this would sufficient vigorous doings for a lead into mid-week,,,, perchance an opportune to while-away a quaint evening with a good meal, a fire by the sea side, tend surf rods converse of string theory, fractals or take in the view of Uranus in its accompaniment of the Moon in its early ark of the night sky this time of year…….Which is really not Uranus , but Mars,,,,,,,,It’s just that it’s more fun to point solo cup in hand with extended index finger and exclaim “ look yonder, that orange looking star close to the Moon; It’s your-anus. No, No, no we’ll have none of that !......and so it was with little debate that it was decided a flounder gigging was in order for the evening…..
Soon with not much bother we re-sorted the truck to accommodate the team along with necessary kit to take-on the evenings mission; grill, gigs, charcoal, waders, cap lights, salad, lighter fluid, potatoes’ all found their place and in the absence of little fan-fare we made leave of the point to make our way in the Tundra to the calmer waters of the sound. It was not that far to the ramp 40-something ( my memory fails me on the exact number), ,,,,,, finding our way up the beach from cape point, noting beforehand to takedown the taller rods from the front cooler basket as to not get them hung up in the overhanging branches. The mood was in joyful anticipation, an adventure, a quest anew, a fish hunt primeval with forked spears not unlike undertaken by the ancients of” way-back-when”. The opportunity to try out Bumps ingeniously designed flounder walking lights, (*Much more efficient than a bundled reed torch*) which I jokingly brag send out beams of light near powerful enough in lighted looms to laze sea-floor sand to glass or sever and cauterize a toe if one is careless in their use….Which might well be a slightly over exaggeration of their capabilities, though can attest that Bumps flounder lights work the champ and covet mine with much greed…… When exiting from the beach the track turned to sugary soft as it crossed the back road but the truck seemed little affected and in less than a stones throw found purchase of a wooded bridge and firm footing. The pines were showing the scares of sea spray poisoning, their needles brown, absent of familiar shades of green in reminder of the ravages of the Irene, though once in the midst of the grove thicket, it reverts to a familiar setting not uncommon of a low pineland setting with not much sign of the fierce storm that had passed this way not so long ago. Breaking free into a wide expanse of salt marsh our short travel terminated at the waters of the sound, a small pleasant beach was found and it looked to be the most perfect of place to stage the evenings actives. With skilled efficiency acquired through many-a-outing; ”Task -A” went into execution (steak dinner)……The grill was pulled out, the table grabbed, bag of charcoal retrieved,,,,,,we’re in full go-to-it activity when the alarm goes up!!!! SKEETERS !!!!! the shrill shrieks of grown men were heard, much mussing of sand was flung underfoot, and near bedlam prevailed as all attention was diverted to fend off the ever increasing hoard of winged vandals that had brutally began to lay siege upon our intrepid team… …Shivery, good manners and valor all the intrinsic high values of cultured surf fishermen were abandoned to the well timed onslaught while the wild haste for armaments of DEET were sought as to quell the little devils and beat back the assault,,,,,,Some little time passed but we soon prevailed, gaining the upper hand and was able to put the deterrent to the evil petite invaders enough so that things were tolerable, to some existent, order and honor were regained while attention was turned back once more to the evenings meal of putting the grill marks to the carne.
The charcoal was lit, potatoes peeled, salad prepared, additionally fresh bait was netted by Mitch and Bump while the embers were heating ( no missed opportunity in the crowd when the chance of fresh bait is at hand)……Settling into meal preparations, taking in the surroundings awhile reflecting on the welcoming we had just received it came to me;…This spot;, Our present location,, It has a given name I’m told……”The Bite”; Interesting name this place called “The Bite”……. at first I assumed that this title had been bestowed upon this effervescing gem of a deep isle crescent was due to the shape it takes in the form of a portion of the isle has been gnawed into, yes bitten into as it were, cleaving out place of tranquil waters, safe, sheltered of the ill effects of a ravenous Atlantic, a nursery of gentle aquatic species in kind placid harmony of its surroundings, goldenly touched by nature, synchronized by the nice-guy deities …….Oh ! How could I be so wrong????.....For I’ll tell you “The Bite” has nothing to do with the shape of the place and is all about “you as the quarry” for I’ll attest that near every demon winged invertebrate in the area has its sights on a BITE of you! …… yes gentle reader be fare warned, advised well in the knowledge that dinner is bipedal with no-quarters granted to the meek, as a merciless varied array of creatures stealthy with ill intentions and little qualms of doing you damage await at every turn,,,,,, while yes, we may find that a dine of arthropods can be quite delicious,,,,I can assure you that with some species you are the makings of an appealing meal………
A first order feeding of New York strip was put on fit to tradition; one that a hungry chieftain would be far envious of and undoubtedly scoff in distain of the opulent gluttony these mere fishermen fore took upon their plates,,,,We ate our fill and then some without omission of want, finishing with due ovation to the chefs and participants in the accomplishment of yet another legendary at the waterside supper…… Such a sit-down-meal is not taken on without consequences and I for one was feeling the effects of the excesses, it would be not far off to say that after such bountiful consumption I’m good for very little and am inclined to seek a cordial exit as to take-in a siesta/nap, that would not be the case this evening as “Task B” was at hand of an after dark “flounder quest”. Which we soon set-upon gathering the implements and attire to make this aquatic campaign, I being the odd man out had come prepared with chest waders to aid in comfort…..though it did have me a bit perplexed that my compatriots Bawana and Bump had not done the same in packing waders for use ?? How could this be ?? Here it was two supposed trout fishermen that didn’t bring waders ? Not that it was that cold, as in truth the water temperature was tolerable a plenty and shorts would do,,,,,But hey ! if you have-um why not put them to use…….The only explanation I could surmise at the time was of vanity and shame,,,,,how would it look for them to show back up a some mountain brook chalet adorned in the latest Orvis attire with waders tainted with salt water or yet worse found to have remnants of cut bait mullet and sand,,,, one could only shutter at the reproductions and scorn as might befell them…..
With gigs and walking lights in hand we set-off for the shallow water of the Bite, the outline of the coast guard dock could be made out in the distance to our left, beyond that anchored the cutter that we heard from a few nights previous in coordination of the rescue on the shoal earlier in the week. The weather was somewhat sketchy as thunderstorms were about, might-in-not the wisest of times to be wandering knee deep in water with affectively two aluminum staffs in hand amidst lightning strikes; however I was taking comfort that of the three of us I’m the shortest and if something of the sort of a strike would befall us, one of the taller ones would take the blunt of the voltage sparing me and my carcass from floating into the sound to become crab bait……Bump set out to the left at first, me and Bawana close at hand, the small dive lights illuminating a sandy bottom with the occasional small bait fish darting to and from the glow, the tide was in to where the water was well up into the salt marsh and we explored the edges as we made use of the gigs to steadying ourselves in soft uneven footing that lined the break between the marsh and open water. There in places excursions to open pockets were explored slipping up breaks leading into the tall grass, the odd crab would ghost past giving way to our passage, but little else and yet no sign of our intended quarry. We’d worked towards the coast guard dock for a ways working all the while at gaining some coordination to our efforts, a lined frontal sweep of a sort, something that could vaguely be construed as an organized execution of an efficient flounder seek. Regretfully disciplined order is not one of our strong suits and such vain attempts to take charge of this band of saltwater enthusiast are often rebuffed with belligerent teenage vigor, an attribute that seems to be more prevalent with age, congenial conduct is a fine thing and it has its place; but within this grouping of endearing friends unsophisticated comments, and crude wildly exaggerated accusations at the expense of whomever we can single out is more as not lead to giggles and stooped laughter that could be heard at some distance I suppose…..
It began to rain, a drizzle for the most part; just sufficient to give regret that I’d not put-on a rain jacket. The water was getting a bit more disturbed as we worked the edge towards the coast guard dock and it was getting harder to distinguish well the bottom once the water was much deeper than two foot so it was decided to turn around and head back in the other direction towards the light house. Back-tracking to our original starting point didn’t take much time as it was ground that we’d already covered and soon-a-plenty we were in fresh unsearched water, clearer and less disturbed with better potential for success….. Though this didn’t last long until we bumped up against deep water and salt marsh, just off to the left was a pretty good sized flat territory that had hoped to explore, but with the tide in the water was too deep to wade and compounding the impediment the water was well up into the marsh effectively blocking us out of open water for some distance…… Not being thwarted by the matter we stove-off into the deeply inundated thicket of marsh grass that Bawana vehemently proclaimed was ripe territory for “anacondas”, which I initially scoffed at as absurd and outlandish until I got to thinking,,,,,,,,,, capybara are in explicit short supply on the south core and a short flounder fisherman such as myself could easily be a enticing substitute for any giant laying-in-wait anacondas …. I put all quadrants under suspicion, doubled my guard, tightening my grip of the gig and continued on through the tall reeds of marsh grass. In the darkness of a stormy night, with no clear end, splattered by rain, awash in a sea of marsh grass, wading off into territory not fit to humans, and in lack of sure-footings hope waned, the prolonged traverse propagating the fear that we’d blundered and our untimely demise was close at hand…….Then things became quite disconcerting and stopped me in my tracks as I came-upon an open tributary that feed out from the marsh….. Bump, whom miraculously appeared out of the dark on the other side showed little concern and flippedly commented. What !, it’s not that deep come-on ya-(add in demeaning adjective)………Meanwhile I’m poking my 4’ gig down to find the bottom and it’s yet to reach the bottom !!!! What ! NOT DEEP! Are you serious ! It’s like the Marianas Trench here!!,,, Where did you cross at ? Bump, motioning with gig in hand back towards my left, “over there” I immediately turn to the right paying no mind as have an affinity of mistrust when my own wet or dryness is concerned and had little want to test my buoyancy at such a crucial part of the night’s journey. The footing was precarious slick and greasy not at all helpful in the situation as I worked along the edge of the chasm prodding with the gig, while also shining into the depths with the walking lights looking for a place shallow enough to cross over to the other side. Bawana is still just behind me murmuring warnings of anacondas; Bump is no more than a candle beacon in the inky blackness of the far side….Hope was dwindling for a quick crossing when the jagged remnants of an ancient wooden hull came into light, it lay in such a manner within as to shoal and bridge the channel making it but one wide stride to gain purchase to firm footing leading to the other side… ….From there we had surpassed the worst of it and even though the impeding grass stretched on for a ways, it soon gave way to shallow open water lined with a low soft interior beach. Where in we eventually formed-up an impromptu line of sorts and took to searching to and fro the shallow edge water for our quarry.
At first the bottom was sandy, pebbled with shells, more course textured with much the same nautical critters as we’d seen on the other side of the marsh, crab and minnows, though soon it gave way to squishy mud, soft sticky primordial life quagmire mixture…….clog-up the lug cleats on your Farmall Super C kind-of stuff. Awwww but there was sign,,,, telltale indications of where flounder had laid were spotted and it seemed that finally success was within grasp and or stabbing distance,,,which turned out to be exactly the case, as the Bawana up and scored on one in short order, nixing in least the possibility of a full-on-skunk…. There was some frenzied activity there for a bit…., not too far a-field from a Moe, Larry and Shemp reenactment in putting together the coordinated task of stringing it on the tether. In view it would seem to be a no-brainer simple chore mere child’s play kind-of doings …. ..put freshly caught flounder (A) onto fish stringer (B)…….In actions though things can get quite befuddled when all hands are full of fishing apparatuses, standing in knee deep water in questionable footing conditions, compounded with prevailing darkness accented with the occasional unnerving crack and flash of lighting with a fish that is most defiantly uncooperative of the situation and refusing to summit peacefully …….. First off, Bawana goes to pulling out the fish stringer……Oh-my-word !! I had no idea such a fish stinger was manufactured or worse yet marketable to the general public …..This thing was longgggggg and would need to be measured in units of yards, fathoms or leagues as giving in feet or inches would create such a high numerical number that it would be difficult for anyone other than a mathematical savant to comprehend………. I’m telling you this stringer was way out of hand and if it didn’t have that pointy gill threading end on it, I’d swear it was a coil of left over Pee-line used to pull the high-tension span across Lake Wyle at the South Fork…….Compounding the short fiasco was the instantaneous illumination that came to bear on the event, for everyone had a flashlight if not 2, not to include the walking flounder lights apparatus with their double dive lights attached were also involved. This culminated in going from relative darkness, to something like ten and more moving blazing shafts of cross-descending beams of lights coming in at all quadrants,,,. Mind that these lights of today are LED wonders, glorious little things that supersede common thought and sensibility in that they could near stand in for a” first order” Fresnel beacon in a pinch…….and with all of them ablaze with such mega looms of light and movement that was going on it very well from a distance I’m sure simulated one of them carnival whirling searchlight contraptions had been turned loose in the back shallows of The Bite…..It’s a wonder someone didn’t inadvertently scorch a retina, loose an eye or vision in the beginning insuring happenings of the first flounder capture……. Invariably we prevailed…..and managed to anchor the first flounder onto the fish stringer…..whom though securely tethered to the line still had near free-range of half the sound due to the length of cord that he was attached to…… With a flounder on tether the alert was heightened, due diligent surmised where there’s one there liable to be others near……so it was with heightened alert we formed up a search line and confronted the next section of water that stretched before us. True enough in a short distance I spied the silted in silhouette of a flounder come into view, sightening-up on him with the gig, made my move and pieced the lenguado to the sea floor…….Victory was mine !!!...elations of great conquest was momentarily about to begin,,,,,,,when whoooosh, Bump snipes in and STABS MY FOUNDER !!!!!,,,while exclaiming you only have him by one prong,,,,,,What!, How can this be,,,,, hast he no shame as to violently break such the unspeakable as to poke a hole in another man’s flounder……What Freudian childhood ill was set-upon him to send him into adulthood to commit such a heinous act. Surely Cardinal flounder edict forbids such actions and no doubt if brought before proper authorities would be dealt with in the harshest of terms……Dare I say that such consequences evoke to having your elementary school “permanent record” reopened as to reflect the incidence…..<---It’s with this in mind that hindered me from seeking full judicial retribution,,,,for we all know it’s no small matter in having your permanent record altered and have experience repeatedly the debilitating trauma of being called-out in Ms Worsley’s third grade class and “scarred for life” with;…little David, this is going on your “permanent record” …..It’s with this reflection that figured some charity was in order and decided I couldn’t expose such a good friend to such cruel penalties, though I suspect it will go unappreciated and vehemently denied that he perpetrated the atrocity… Needless to say, that flounder was got and got well,, we added him to the stringer with little fuss on this go-round and with tridents bloodied we continued the hunt. Bawana had pass-on the fish stringer to me as is customary,,,,last man to score drags the fish, which is a welcome burden when there’s the realization that the random tug from my left belt loop representing tomorrow evenings fish fry. We’d gone not far when the Bawana up and nails another one! Rite up in what amounted to no water at all…..If it had been any shallower it’d been in the dry bank bushes. This immediately set off a scorching round of accusations within the hunting party as it was proclaimed we were onto him and his deep seated plot to thwart his friends from flounders…How with selfish intent had encouraged Bump and me to seek in the deeper waters while he stealthfully collected the bounties of the ankle deep water …His scheme was discovered and substantiated by his success and there was little chance of denials or weaseling out of it, as it was most plain to see in the fact that he had gotten a second fish…….A brutal verbal assault was launched that will be omitted here for the sake of mixed company and those of tender youth, though suffice to say that afterwards he was kept in close observation and held in contempt suspicion for some time…. We’d traveled some distance from the truck and hours had past, and with three flounder on the stringer (one a piece)not the most abundant of catches but plenty enough for each of us to have one fresh each for supper tomorrow and still yet had the return waters to cover…….With the realization that we were on the return and having not a flounder to claim as his own and would have to rely on the compassion of his friends to provide him with a flounder the following night Bump switched to into hyper flounder seek mode. It was an astonishing feat that left me exhausted just watching, as he plunged back and forth through the water leaving a wake of disturbed water that would take hours to settle out. Admittedly I’d tiered and though there was no complaints knew Bawana’s bum knee was taking a beating so sought the easy track of walking the dry shore where possible, figured after the last catch being rite at the waters edge my chances were good as any there without the resistance of wading. Fortunately by time we returned to the marsh much of the water had receded and it was not so challenging as before in depth…….But true to adventure and yet still some distance from the shelter of the truck the bottom dropped out in a torrent thunderstorm. The wind lashed out stinging with horizontal rain, flashes of lightning ominous and way-too-close for comfort split the darkness. Glancing back over my shoulder, the night lit-up revealing in a stroboscopic frozen moment the Bawana (Mitch) wet, in the beating rain, slogging in knee deep marsh, the fish stringer cutting deep into his shoulder as it hung-up on the reeds, a beleaguered sight that may well have deserved some sympathy from more compassionate companions……..Unfortunately for him there was none forthcoming and was promptly directed to the need to take better care of our tomorrow night’s dinner, as the penance for group flounder damage is server no matter how bad the pervading circumstances might be….. A providence on high occasionally minds for fools and fishermen, to question why would be beyond the academics of my understanding ……. thankfully it was to his deeming that on this particular night that it was seen fit for a safe return to the truck and semi-productive ending with three keepers to whole fry, and so it’s with that I’ll end this odd rambling by saying I’m well too fortunate and blessed beyond capable expressed appreciation of having the accompaniment of dear friends. The fish are caught eaten and scrapped off the dinner plate, but the chance to experience and put it all together with trusted friends are golden moments in time all too fleeting………. Dave