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TWENTY YEARS ON THE CAPE - STRIPER SURF - STRIPER HOT SPOTS - THE TROPHY STRIPER
EASTERN TIDES - FLY FISHING THE STRIPER SURF
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Ask Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is recognized as an authority on surf fishing for striped bass. He is the author of six books and hundreds of magazine articles. Frank is a member of the Outdoor Writers of America and lectures throughout the Northeast.

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Old 10-25-2010, 12:21 PM
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flying Timber flying Timber is offline
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Default A dedication to you Frank

Hey guys, Ive been pretty quiet this year, and I do apoligize. I have been fishing though.

I caught my first 30 pounder and Frank I have you and your books to thanks. (place XXX here for Kiss)

Anyway the least I could do is write a small story about it for you. Thanks for all your lessons that you didn't know you gave.

Be careful what you ask for:

Many of you know I do flyfish a lot. Which means I don't catch many large fish. Although growing up in Matunuck RI, I did learn how to fish with "the jig and a pig" and my Dad showed me how to fish the west wall with chunks of squid, I still never really caught a "cow". Even with eels.
In fact one day An older Gentlman at the deep hole area was using a Wooden egg and tiny bucktails.He showed me how to do it. This in turn got me going in fly-fishing.
Now am I a great fly fisherman? Absolutely not. Am I a good fly fisherman? Probably not. I do catch fish but nothing to hang on the wall. So every once in a while I'll break out the surf rod and either use bait,or some of those great swimming lures that Dan makes. I catch a fair amount of fish with these lures, so many in fact that I lose them as well to Bluefish.
So This past September I decide to put away the fly grear for one seasnon, and fish with nothing but Live eels and the strongest tackle I own. I wanted a cow, and I wanted it this year. I didn't care how late I had to stay up, or how far I had to walk. Yeah right....
My new hot spot just for the past two or three years has been in the town of Westport MA, on a little island called Gooseberry Island right down the road from Horseneck beach. It's easily accessed from a causeway and I have never had any problems parking there AFTER the beach season.
My first day fishing there landed me two decent size stripers and some Bluefish way down at the tip during a SW wind at sunrise with a black popper. Following visits were with Dan's plugs which also caught very nice fish again from some different spots along the island.
I normally walk either side of the island looking for breaking fish or other signs of fish activity. Or just a spot in the surf that looks Fishy. Sometimes I go back to that south tip which requires a 15-25 minute walk, depending on the light level and how many times one gets tripped up on the several rocks and stones on the way.(Very similar to the Point Judith Lighthouse shoreline).
So October 21st 3:30am. I park the truck and start to make a walk on the west side of the Island. First few things I notice were a very bright moon and almost no wind with little surf. No breaking fish sounds and no bait washed up on the shore. Thinking it would be a quiet night again for me this month, I stopped and considered going back home to sleep. What kept me walking were the 5 perfectly sized live eels in my little cooler and the knowledge of an incoming tide and a setting moon in about three hours.
This time I was also very particular about picking my eels. Normally when I go into Ocean state tackle in Providence, I just tell em how many and they fill my bucket. This year Dave was fine in letting me pick em out myself.(less work for him too).
I find that a medium size eel is a perfect caster for my 11' foot rod with 50 pound Powerbraid. Behind it I use a 65 pound swivel and 30 pound Flourocarbon for a leader. A circle hook sized around 7-0 is the hook I like. I find the cirlce hooks hook the fish better and they also hold the eels on a little bit better as well.You do however have to let the fish have it for a bit, set a circle hook to early and you never hook up 100 takes. Not to mention the feeling you'll get that there is a scuba diver messing with you.
So I find a fishy spot, which to me is a lot of rocks followed by an area which swallows the incoming waves and is almost flat. This would be a bit of deep water next to shallower water. With almost no surf it is tricky to find a spot like this. I did however find one and as I tossed in one of my eels, I was eyeing the moon with snarled lips and gritting teeth as I watched it ever so slowly set down. I also looked up for some cloud coverage but saw none coming. It was gonna be a long night.
Now I do know that fish are caught during a bright moon under shadows and such,and some folks say that the bright moon is just a wive''s tale for a fishless night. But like most bright nights, I have now been there almost and hour and a half with absolutely no bumps or strikes. So I just moved down the island some more.
About two and a half hours go by and I have hit a few of my other known spots on this side of the island with no luck, I just decide to walk along the shore casting every 100 feet or so. Still very quiet and still very fustrating and still very bright out. I also just remembered that I had left my headlight in the truck, but I laughed at the amount of light that was out and that I didn't really need it. This also made decide to take a bit of a break and just wait for the setting moon to set..
After a very long 45 minutes or so playing with my eels,I saw that the moon was just starting to change hue and that a few clouds were moving in. I then forced my tired butt off the uncormfortable rock and actually hung down my arms and still was deciding if I should just go back even with this setting moon and moving tide. I was just plain lazy and tired and the break I took didn't help either.
Then the light switch when off. The moon was an almost orange-tan color from the threatening sun, more clouds were moving in and the fish were feeding! Two very loud crashes whent off about twenty yards from my area and they were very big and very loud, and my lazy butt was very awake now.
Almost killing myself semi-running over the rocks which to me resembled a small graveyard, I did manage to get my eel somewhat in the area of where the feeders were and did mange to get a few tugs, of course the first time I set the hook....was too early. So I then told myself to calm down and just fish. No different then when I forst got here, nice slow retrieves and dont get to excicted.
Second bite was a small bluefish and the third cast was a donation to the feeding fish as I didn't check my eel good enought after I released the bluefish. The next eel and cast however was the one I was hoping for.
I was standing on some rocks that I had no business standing on. Slanted shaky and of course with no flat standing area, but when you rush to an area to cast you don't care....Untill you realize you have caught something. Or did it catch me?
It was at first just a smooth pull, not a typical hungry striper's snatch. My heart told me that it was going to start beating but not until I wait and wait. It was a very long 5 seconds. I then performed the infamous Rhode Islanders' "bow to the cow" and then my 7-0 hook crossed her eyes. So know I'm wide eyed and in awe of my surf rod bending right to the spine. As I see some line starting to leave my spool, I realize that I probably should get some proper footing. But being a fisherman, I ignored that sensible thought and instead was mesmerized by the sound of my fish running line off my spool. She then decided to run even more taking that angled run that stripers take. This was right at the same time I decided to get some better footing. The fish of course new this and took me off my unstable rock and in the water I went. Granted this wasn't some highly dangerous area, but I ended up with a bruised elbow and leg, and not to mention a rip in my waders from clamoring back to the shore like a aboXXXXe fool. To make things worse the moon that I wanted to set so bad did, and with my headight in the truck well now I cant see where anything is. I'm blind,wet,tripping all over the place, banged up and I have the fish of my life laughing at me 30 yards away dragging my line across every rock trying to break off. If I ever meet the man that invented power braid line. I will give him a kiss. If I had used monofiliment line, I would be writing a very different story right now,
So by an act of God, none of the line was tangled or twisted up on my rod or reel. I finally get some good footing and began enjoying the fight. Giving line, taking line while being amazed that my custom surf rod does bend pretty far and had an awful creaking sound when not enough drag is let off the reel. As the fight got easier I was very confident that I would at least see the fish. I was rather proud of myself in that I didn't try to just hog her in. I used my drag effectively and was feelling like an actual surfcaster. Then My smile left me, she stopped completely. It was like I hit a wall and I thought that she's behind a rock sitting laughing at me because she was teasing me the whole time. This bitch had probably been caught and released by guys with ten times more exerience than me. I was a just a workout for her, and as was cursing he Ditch trolls in the Cape Cod Canal for educating my fish, I just pulled up on my rod and played the "waiting game" for an almost full two minutes.,
It's funny when you get exicited and you aren't thinking straight. Things are not what they seem sometimes, and we often over dramatize an event like this. (At least I do) I was just very pleased to know that nobody was watching me in the dark pulling very hard on a fish during my "waiting game" when In fact the fish was about eight to ten feet away from me lying on the shore practically at my feet. I was what one would call. "An idiot mook".
Anyone watching me fight this fish would have enjoyed watching me and probably would have said. "You would think this guy never had a big fish on the end of his line" And they would have been right.
After the long walk back to the truck I threw my trophy in the back of the truck, enjoyed the fish in the now first light of the sun for the day. She was beautiful and she was all mine. I also noticed that the sunrise top-water bluefishermen were showing up. These were guys twice my age and probably would have gotton a good laugh watching me.
Like most normal men I thought about showing it off to these sharpies but I thought better of it. Just in case one might say. "Hey were you the guy that fell in the water fighting this calf? Go back to RI where you came from!"
The fish was my first 30 pounder, 32.6 pounds to be exact, 45 inches long. She also brough with her, two rips in my waders, two nasty bruises on my legs and a nasty shiner on my right elbow from a rock. I still can't extend my arm all the way, and after feeding my ENTIRE family Saturday night, I probably got a small helping of this fish.. Not to mention the hangover Sunday morning from the drinking during mine and everyone else's "fish stories", I also found out that I probaly can't by a replica mount for under 400 dollars to hang on the wall.
If anybody want to find me next year, I'll be in the gentle Barrington River fly fishing for schoolies.

Tom
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Old 10-25-2010, 12:45 PM
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Steve C. Sink Steve C. Sink is offline
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Default Re: A dedication to you Frank

Mr. flying Timber, since the protocols are relaxed a bit until Frank gets back at the helm of his site, I'll jump in here and say, that was a fine and enjoyable fishing account to read, and a Beautiful fish. Wish you many more.

MULE.
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Old 10-25-2010, 12:54 PM
lagoonguy lagoonguy is offline
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Default Re: A dedication to you Frank

And, I'd like to second those sentiments.
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Old 10-25-2010, 01:00 PM
brucelieb brucelieb is offline
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Default Re: A dedication to you Frank

I'm so jealous , but congrats!
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:16 PM
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Montauk Surf Montauk Surf is offline
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Default Re: A dedication to you Frank

I hope you realize that Frank is not going to pay you by the word
I'm sure it's a wonderful tribute ...I'll read it tonight..back to work for now
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:27 PM
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Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is offline
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Default Re: A dedication to you Frank

This is a great piece. Lord knows we have all been there. Thank you for writing it ... and for me.
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:47 PM
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flying Timber flying Timber is offline
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Default Re: A dedication to you Frank

My pleasure professor. Just hope I helped you smile as you did for me.
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Old 10-25-2010, 08:28 PM
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Montauk Surf Montauk Surf is offline
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Default Re: A dedication to you Frank

Congratulations.. and a great read. Do your homework and brave the elements..and eventually dreams and reality will clash
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Old 10-26-2010, 10:59 AM
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Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is offline
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Default Re: A dedication to you Frank

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montauk Surf View Post
Congratulations.. and a great read. Do your homework and brave the elements..and eventually dreams and reality will clash
Yes, but keep things in perspective. Know the difference about what is important in life. What a list of fools I could give you who gave striper fishing their all and it really was for nothing.
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Old 10-26-2010, 10:16 PM
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Default Re: A dedication to you Frank

Amem to that. When it becomes secondary to things like famliy, health, and happiness..before you know it you have lost sight of why you started in the first place. This is not exclusive to fishing. We have seen this all over. Millionaires with 3 divorces under their belt...eating more food than what is required for nutrition leads to obesity,..there are other examples..
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Old 10-27-2010, 06:24 AM
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Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is offline
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Default Re: A dedication to you Frank

Back in the 70s/80s we had a lot of hardcores on the beach who seem to claw at the walls of greatness -- always catching the larger, the most, exaggerateors making their presence known, assaulting people. Forget marraige and family; forget job growth; 401-Ks were for suckers. Some had no permanent address, sleeping on the front seat of an unrelaible buggy. They are still there!
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Old 10-27-2010, 09:08 AM
JoeLyons JoeLyons is offline
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Default Re: A dedication to you Frank

Most of the people you describe are/were profoundly screwed up and would have been regardless of whether or not they gravitated to surfcasting - they just would have been so elsewhere so you would not have been personally acquainted.
I like ya Frank, but holding up financial planning, higher education, and professional and personal fulfillment as goals for the loners, outcasts and marginal sociopaths with addictive personalities that comprise much of the surfcasting set borders on the absurd.
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Old 10-27-2010, 06:01 PM
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Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is offline
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Default Re: A dedication to you Frank

You're probably right, Joe. But don't ask me to feel sorry for them.
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Old 10-27-2010, 06:17 PM
biggestsquid biggestsquid is online now
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Default Re: A dedication to you Frank

Having spent 47.5 of 56 available tournament hours on the beach lasdt week the thought occurred to me that I may have a problem ---- but then it went away. Hippie asked me how long I thought I could "hang" on the beach. I'm afraid it would be almost indefintely.

Yo Frank ---- I am so happy that you are already back in the game. I thought it would likely driv eyou bananas that you wouldn't be able to type. You typing with your tongue brother?

Let me know if you need anything from the Philly area --- forget the cheesesteak or scrapple --- we have healthy food here also -- I think --- I'll ask around.

Take care, I'm sure you will heal quickly. Must be good stock from Alsace -Lorraine.

Cheers,
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Old 10-27-2010, 06:22 PM
biggestsquid biggestsquid is online now
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Default Re: A dedication to you Frank

And I know that this isn't your flavor --- but it was 3rd or 4th overall in the tourney. Stubborn as a mule --- called him Frank. Cobb mullet head on # 8 circle, 80 # leader, 40# shock leader, 20# running line and most of what this broke down old salesman could put into a 13'3" Cast Pro rod and a Penn 525.
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"You fish --- then you die --- or you don't fish and die anyway --- your choice"
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