Out Of The Slipstream
Iam fishing outside the main channel, well beyond the red and green markers, while the rest of the world zooms past at full throttle. I am as far south as you can go on the lower reaches of this tidal river without being on terra firma, back in the boney water, amid submerged boulders, some of which show their backs at low water, appearing to spout or porpoise when the wind is strong and spray flies off their dark noggins.
I am happily ( and stealthily) working the flats, points and coves, exploring new water, back on the fringes and margins where the striped bass are piled up. I fished this river as a boy, but not this section and not using this method — slow-trolling the shallows with a simple tube-and-worm rig. The rod shakes in its holder — sometimes a fish crashes the surface on the strike — and the drag sings out. It’s a simple magic trick, one that neither the fish nor I seem to tire of.
An acquaintance sniffs pretentiously. “On the fly?” he asks. “Are you getting them on the fly?” God help these knuckleheads; you won- der if they could find enough to eat if they were turned loose in the Garden of Eden.
The nice thing about striped bass is that over the course of a season I will chase them with spin, fly and conventional tackle, in knee-deep water and in depths to 75 feet, from the surf, in salt ponds and from a proper boat stemming a rip. But for the last few weeks, I have merrily paddled off Little Marsh and Constellation Rocks, trailing the pedestrian tube-and-worm and creating a series of small, wonderful ruckuses.
The shore greens up, and pollen and petals drift on the tide. Scratchy birdsong floats over the shallows from first light to dusk. A great blue heron croaks across my bow, and the nesting ospreys are their usual vocal selves. I say good morning to the terns squabbling from their rocks.
A harbor seal balances as motionless as a weathered bronze sculpture on a rock that barely crests the surface. A cormorant leans forward and shoots the contents of its morning meal out its backside before abandoning its perch as I glide past.
Working the edges, flats and rocky coves from a kayak is peaceful.