In last week's column we wrote about taking long-time friend Carl Geraci striper fishing. He and his son, Carl Jr., responded by taking this old fool out to sea about 30 miles to fish on Jeffrey's Ledge for groundfish - cod, haddock and pollock. Carl Jr.'s boat, a 25-foot center console was a great boat to travel that distance and had plenty of room for gear and several anglers. But it was a windy day and the trip out wasn't what you'd call an easy ride.
But that all seemed to change when we reached what is called "The Fingers" on Jeffrey's Ledge. This area is the most northern edge of the ledge and both Carls had figured we'd catch some nice haddock here. But instead we caught herring on our jigs and teasers. Fish of about 10 inches long that unless we'd targeted them with small gear, never dreamed we'd catch any on our heavy gear with big hooks. Along with the herring all we caught were too-small haddock and pollock.
So we started to make small moves to the south, trying a drift or two over likely looking bottom, using both his GPS unit and depthfinder. But on each drop of our jigs, we were not doing very well so finally young Carl said we'd take a look at a place to the south on Jeffrey's Ledge called "the Curl". Almost instantly the three of us were struggling with some bigger fish on our lines, hauling up good sized codfish and huge pollock - sometimes two at a time. We had finally found some great fishing.
On the way out to the ledge, both Carls were giving this old man a hard time about the skimpy rods and reels we had brought, with both of them using what we joked as "telephone poles" for rods and old but workable reels. My jig rod was a quarter the diameter of their rods but what they didn't know was the high tech manufacturing of today can produce a skinny rod with great backbone. Actually, when a fish puts a big bend in the new/type rods it produces a much more constant strain on that fish. And my reels were both hi-tech, high speed retrieve reels that also had the power to winch in about anything you could catch, if you had the patience.
All of us were using the new super-braid lines that feature low stretch and very small diameter and when fishing both bait and jig, enables you to cut down on the weight of either your lead sinker or heavy jig. I had brought some fairly light jigs but had to borrow a heavier sinker because the currents were pulling my bait up off the bottom. But my jigs were working wonders.
We rig our jigging terminal gear with three loops in our 40-pound fluorocarbon leader. The lower look enables us to just loop the leader through the jig's line eye and up over the jig, enabling us to just un-loop to change jigs. Up from the jig on the two other loops that are separated by about two feet, we did the same with two of our own, hand tied teaser flies. We started out with bright yellow and red flies but when young Carl started to catch a lot of fish on his single blue teaser fly, we switched to two of these and then the fun really started.
On many of my line drops, my jig never hit the bottom before a big pollock or cod had grabbed on or more of my hooks. It was uncanny. On the drop when I couldn't feel any weight on my rod we'd set the hook and have a fish on. And when we did reach the bottom without a take, usually the first jigging of my rig produced a fish or lots of times two.
Carl Sr.'s action had been slow but he was focused on what he was doing and didn't see my constant action. He made a comment to son Carl that the fishing was pretty slow. "Apparently you haven't been watching Dick, as he's never even able to get a line down to bottom without hooking up."
Young Carl had been very active with his jig and blue fly teaser but his dad seemed to be too stubborn to switch to blue. But finally he saw the light and also started to add to the big batch of fish we had in the fish hold.
Reluctantly we had to pull in lines as Carl Sr.'s daughter, Corina, was planning a big going home party for her dad and none of us wanted to face the fury waiting for us if we were late at the dock.
We don't mind filleting fish. But don't like to do it on a bouncing boat. But Carl Sr. seemed to delight in it and there were no complaints.
Last night's supper of a mixed variety of cod, pollock and redfish fillets were world class - made even better by the fact that we had a chance to share this experience with very close friends.
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.