The sight today of a gold weedless spoon at Bass Pro Shops took me back twenty-some years to a favorite fishing memory. I went from standing in the fishing tackle aisle to standing knee-deep in waders as the out-going tide rushed past me at Lynnhaven Inlet. This was before kids, before I was married and before a regular work schedule interfered with fishing and sailing.
In the predawn darkness of a fall morning, a patch of water erupted in silver flashes along the shadow line cast by the lights of the Lesner Bridge. I watched it happen three or four times, took the twin-tail green lure off my fishing line and tied on a gold spoon. I cast just beyond the school of baitfish, let the lure drift towards me and quickly raised the tip of the rod just where I had seen the school of fish. The baitfish erupted again and again as I made several casts. But I was not after them, I was after the fish that was making them jump.
Something was down there beneath them, waiting for them to drift overhead, ready to come up from below with gills flaring and mouth wide open. Then one more cast, the baitfish jump and the rod tip pulls down as a nice flounder mistook the spoon for prey.
Sight-casting - targeting a specific fish - is something that I do not do very often, something that I do not do very well. But once in a while it works. The memory made me smile.
I was out shopping today, it was too cold and too rainy to do much of anything else. I had a nice gift certificate in hand, a Christmas present from my youngest daughter. I picked up the new gold spoon, a Johnson Silver Minnow (even though it is gold in color), which will work well both casting to schools of fish in the open waters Chesapeake Bay and casting along the marshes of Pamlico Sound.
I also picked up a Mann's Stretch 15+, a floating/diving lure, which with its large lip will dive deeper than my current trolling lure. It will dive too deep for the shallow waters of Pamlico and Core Sounds, but will be perfect for Chesapeake Bay and Tangier Sound in the spring when stripers congregate in the bay waiting for the rivers to warm for spawning season.
And there was even enough money on the certificate for a FireSteel Scout, a fire starter which I have long needed to add to my hypothermia kit. And lastly I replenished my Heater Meals supply - I like to have two of the self-heating meals on each cruise - with a mashed potatoes and beef dinner. Thanks you very much, Grace.
Warm weather caught me off guard yesterday. If I had been looking ahead at the weather I would have prepped the coaming for some varnish. But I had not been paying attention. I did sand some of the deck areas - up under the foredeck, on the bunk flat and in the aft cockpit sole - and applied a first light coast of steel grey topside paint. It was at least a start. By afternoon the wind had swung around to the north and the temperature dropped back into the 40's.
Since my short trip a few days ago to the Outer Banks I've been thinking about the June sail. I might start in Hobucken, or maybe Engelhard, I'm not sure. Even if I start in Engelhard I will pass through Hobucken on the way south - I like that area and I would enjoy seeing my friend Shawn at Pate Boatyard. I would also like to revisit Swan Creek where I met friends Curt and Alan last Spring. Beaufort and Cape Lookout are on list, and if weather cooperates I'll sail from one to the other outside on Onslow Bay. And then up Core Sound with, hopefully, the wind on the stern quarter. Ocracoke? Maybe but probably not. I might save that for next year.