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Captain Clarke Charters

Fishing Journal
September 2004
It feels like the first day of fall today. We have been in the midst of a beautiful Indian summer. Warm days, clear still evenings, very light winds, and lots of fish. The harbors are full of busting Albacore and Bonito. Big bass and bluefish are found feeding voraciously on eels and Menhaden at certain times of certain tides. The fall has its own patterns and there are more bass here this September then last year or the year before. Chris Harding who won last years MV Derby just went on the board last night with a 43lb bass caught from his kayak in his usual haunt two days ago. So far that is the biggest fish weighed in. I don't think the big fish have started down in any numbers yet. I fished an ASA tournament yesterday in the remnants of Ivan and there weren't any big fish caught even down Block Island way. I hope they show up soon.

The day yesterday was unbelievable. The weather was forecast to be horrible and believe it or not they were dead on. At 5:00 am when I headed out the door I was just happy that it wasn't as cold as they said it would be. It was downright balmy and my friend Hollis Smith who I'd invited to fish with me was cursing the layers of clothes he had on as he loaded the boat with eels and ice. I showed up in a tee shirt and sandals (which I would later regret). As soon as I turned on the electronics and fired up the Yamahas we heard an emergency loop on channel 16 that involved an overdue fisherman that both Hollis and I knew. We were in a panic and I hurried to get out through the jetties so I could have cell phone reception and phone some people I knew were probably out looking for him. Sure enough they were on their cell phones looking (by land) as best they could and told me where our missing friend was supposedly fishing through the night. It was just where we were headed (and not at all where the Coast Guard had indicated on the radio) and besides a little fog I figured we could get a pretty good look along the shore. I saw no boats on my radar for sixteen miles which made me nervous. All kinds of things go through your mind when you're in a situation looking for someone you know is deemed "overdue". Friend or not it feels the same, always the same. You carry fear right down through your bones because you know immediately how easily it could be you out there in trouble. That's how I feel anyway and maybe it's because I've had some awful close calls. And if it weren't for the Coast Guard and a particular offshore lobster boat a few years ago my tournament days in fact my days period would be over. One close call like that one and your mind takes you back to how you felt those hours out there in serous trouble each and every time you hear that someone else is in a bind or missing.

After scouring the south shore of the Vineyard in the fog and spreading the search out with the morning charter fleet I got a call that they had found our friend and he was fine...What a relief!

Now we could fish. The bite was slow. The fish just weren't there in any numbers to drift over. But we picked up one in the low 20's and then around 10:00 am we got one in the low 30's. Then the heavens opened and we headed in toward the painted house with Capt. Vanderhoop who wisely calculated that it was in the lee and might fish. When we set up on the drift it was a joke. We were moving to fast, the bait couldn't stay on the bottom and it was blowing a steady 30-40 with rain so hard we could barely make out Buddy's boat just to the west of us. It wasn't long before his charter client's cries for mercy were acknowledged and he headed in. When he got around the head he started trying to transmit to me about the condition of things on the windward side. I couldn't understand a word he said but after awhile as he kept coming back with the same garble I figured he was trying to tell me something like I might want to get around the head while the tide is still running with the wind... The wind against the tide is a factor that most people don't figure in when calculating wave heights and its probably the most important factor. Especially on a new or full moon tide like the one we were on. The seas will more then double when wind velocity hasn't increased at all, and it will all be due to the tide turning against the wind. Having the wind against the tide has provided me with most of my most harrowing moments.

Well we picked up and ran around the point and right through the rip. It was definitely getting ugly. I made a couple of phone calls and the tournament had turned into a joke. It actually began badly with only 5 boats registering and I was told by the weighmaster that he was trying to contact what was left of the 5 boats to call the weigh-in off. Hollis and I were fishing the MV Derby that day too and we opted to weigh our 30 plus pounder in for that instead of running across the sound, up through Buzzards Bay and into the Wareham river. It would have been fun but Hollis had caught the fish and he was happy to weigh it for the Derby. Not much glory in placing in a field of 3.

Hope the fall yields you big fish! Be safe this is that time of year.

June 2004
The spring fishing is slowing down but still quite good. My boat just got here a week ago and I've only had a few days fishing on it. Wow what a treat from Contender and Yamaha! All my electronics are new from Simrad and they are amazing! The changes in my combi unit the CA44 are phenomenal! The "herring run" was o.k. this spring, better then the disaster of last year but still not like in years past which is a shame. That doesn't mean I didn't get a lot of great bass fishing in up at the creek with the Vanderhoops! My mom was up and we fished it for a week every morning at 4:30 and every evening at 8:30. She said it was better fishing then she'd had in New Zealand this winter for trout. Now that's an endorsement! We were fishing large imitation herring flies and not doing too well the first morning and so we switched to smaller flies that imitated the fry that was dropping down through the creek and we killed them!! Day after day after day we used the same flies and caught fish after fish after fish. It was magic. The ospreys were thick overhead diving all around us and the bass were crashing up into the narrow creek as far as they could swim and we had the most beautiful succession of sunrises and sunsets I can remember up there. I was thankful for the mid-moon cycle which brought us nice easy tides and normal fish-feeding patterns...

The pogy situation is not good. Apparently they're walking on them south of New York but that doesn't do us much good up here. My bait guy isn't fishing them and everyone else who is says they can't find them. It's time to snag some other bait and see how it works. The other charter boats are still pulling in larger fish on trolling gear. Personally I can't bring myself to give up on bait this early. I hope it improves. I'm psyched to have been featured in the August ad campaign for Contender's "Prevailing Wins". If you're reading this you probably found the website info there. If so thanks for checking in and we'll see you out on the water. Give me a call if you want to go fishing.

January 2004
The phone rang this morning shortly after dawn, Capt. Vanderhoop..."Hello?", I mumble half asleep, "Hey there! Wanna go Cod fishing?", long silence... I roll over and hang the phone up. Fifteen seconds later it rings again... "HELLO" I say obviously irritated, "Ha. Ha. Ha.", he laughs in his typical way, "What, did I wake you?" more laughter (on his end). "Cod fishing!!!!!##**?" I say, "are you serious?". Short silence, "No I'm not serious" he says, "what are you fu***ing crazy it's six degrees out!" I was just wondering if you were up...Ha...I guess not. "I roll over and leave the phone off the hook.

Of course I can't get back to sleep. At six I'm out of bed after a tall pot of coffee I head over to my rehearsal space where I am writing the next record because it's winter time and we don't have to get up at dawn in the winter because there is no bait to get in the winter time and no fish to catch in the winter time!!!! Christ... On my way over to work at Stonewall beach I decide to swing through Menemsha and check the docks. When I round the corner and face the channel I can't believe my eyes. It looks as if the bite is on fire, smoke so thick you can hardly see the water, so gray you'd swear it was burning. It was sea smoke the likes of which I have never seen.

The old timers they call it "reeking". I tried to reach Louis Larsen for more info on it always hoping as an added bonus to get a great seasonal fishing story out of him but he must be off on one of his annual winter cruises. It's that time of year too. So I called Capt. McDowell up who was suffering horribly from a trip to the Patriot vs. Tennessee football game last night to see if he knew more about the term. "How was the game?" I ask cheerfully, "It was cold..." He says "and furthermore I got stupid drunk and stayed up til 3am, Now I have to pack for Budapest." The annual ice boating trip I'm presuming. "Yeah, but at least I got a little prepped for it... freezing cold temps and lots of booze, that's what Estonia is all about."

He proceeded to tell me that they call it reeking the same as they do in the southern swamps. Swamps were always said to reek when they gave off smoke and the term translated up north to fishermen around these parts. Well the ocean will be reeking for the next few days I know, as they aren't giving out for warmer weather. What a beautiful thing to watch as the smoke transforms itself throughout the day. It's everywhere around the Island on almost every piece of water that isn't iced over. I don't know how all of the birds will survive it. No one seems to remember it being this cold. I'm glad I'll be in the studio for the next few weeks and not out there catching Codfish.

Stay Warm,

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