Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New friends and gobies at Burnham

Nice clouds on the way to the water
Things have been crazy with the new semester starting at work; here is the first of three posts from this weekend.

I have been reading the forums on obsessively, and recently began posting my own reports. It's great to be a part of a fishing community, especially because most of the guys on there have tons of experience- whereas I'm just a beginner.

I recently got a PM ("private message") from another fisherman on the site, who suggested we go fishing sometime, as we seemed to be at similar levels of experience. Great idea! We were able to work out a day (last Friday) and time (early!), and hopefully we would catch some fish.

Woke up Friday at 4am, clothes, coffee, fishing gear, biked to the train, arrived downtown at 5:30, and walked to a bus stop. I assembled my collapsible rod, tied on a crankbait (one of only 3 or 4 I had) and waited for the bus. 

Breakfast- homemade tamal
Hopped on the #14- the bus driver recognized me from the previous morning. Not surprising, I guess- there hasn't ever been anybody waiting for the bus with me, and I was carrying a fishing rod. He asked me how I did the day before, and I told him about the 17" LMB from Burnham. He seemed impressed, but didn't seem awake enough for my enthusiasm. It was 5:45am, after all, and he had to drive a bus instead of go fishing!

Started making my way to the Burnham pipe, and began fan casting my crankbait. I noticed a guy on the other side of the marina casting as well, slowly making his way toward the pipe. For some reason I didn't think that could be my friend, I just assumed he was some other fisherman.

Eventually we both ended up near the pipe, and I said "hi, any luck?" he said "no, I just got here." There was a pause, and I thought, well duh- this must be the guy!

"Are you Alex?" I said, and of course, he said yeah.

Well alright then! As we were making our introductions, another fisherman emerged- seemingly from nowhere- and set up shop directly over the pipe- the prime spot, and the spot we had planned to fish. Oh well, you snooze you lose. We started casting about 20' west of the pipe.

We talked about our fishing experiences, and for the most part we did in fact seem to be at similar skill and experience levels. There were differences though- Alex had caught many many smallies, and I of course was on a mission to catch even a single one. Alex also had an impressive selection of baits and lures in his backpack, but I usually traveled with a very small tacklebox with a few lures. Nice collection! I said.

It was great to share experiences- and misadventures- with another pseudo-beginner fisherman. There were a lot of things neither one of us quite understood, even from scouring the internet and fellow fisherman for information. Things like if a fisherman goes out every day and catches a limit of salmon, that could amount to hundreds of pounds of salmon. How much time must they spend processing the fish to get the meat, and what in the world do they do with so much salmon!!?? Or the logistics of landing such a big fish- once they catch it, do they just carry it by the tail on their back, and throw it in their back seat? Don't their wives mind? From the pictures I've seen, you'd have to have a monster cooler to fit a fish like that.

Eventually the guy at the pipe packed up and moved, and we headed over to the pipe. We saw some bass - largemouths? and a whole mess of giant carp. Between the two of us, we pretty much threw every type of lure in the book! Crankbaits, tubes, spoons, spinners (inline and safety-pin style).... I tied on a 3/4oz (I think) jig with a gulp minnow, and caught an average sized gobie.

Well hey, I'll take it. When you get right down to it, I go out to catch fish, because I love to catch fish. A goby, by almost anybody's standards, is a fish. I caught a fish! I didn't care that it just sat there and took it like a sissy, or that it did that gross goby-foaming-at-the-mouth-thing, or that I snagged it in the side (it seemed perfectly fine). I beat the skunk, I caught a fish!

But it was just a goby. My new friend Alex was a veritable smallie-slayer, so maybe one of us would catch one. That would be great! I caught another smaller goby a few minutes later on the same rig; even though we saw bass swimming around, they weren't interested in our offerings.

Another fisherman came by for a while throwing almost the same thing I was, and gave us a lot of tips, specifically related to salmon. Neither of us had ever even hooked into a salmon, and we had been dreaming about the possibility for some time now. Based on the wise angler's advice, I knew I needed to get some glow spoons!

He left and headed for a different spot, and we decided to do the same. We headed up (well, down) Northerly Island along the wall, looking for promising spots. We'd seen videos of people catching smallies along the wall, but today wasn't going to be our day.

The only fish we saw were monster carp- Alex rigged up some carp bait and threw it out. I'd never caught a carp, but I'd heard about their insane fight. I would love to catch one someday, but there's something about them that doesn't seem as appealing as a smallie or salmon... I think it might be the passive fishing techniques that seem to be needed to catch them- apparently there's no casting and retrieving, just chumming and waiting. At this point, I don't have the patience for that, or the multiple rods to fish for different fish at the same time.

With no luck, it was about time to head to work. I felt bad Alex hadn't caught anything- I think that was his second or third trip to Burnham that ended with a skunk... But we would be back. We would be back for salmon! 

I imagined what it would be like if one of us hooked into one of those beasts; I probably would emit a combination of little-girl-like-giggling and profanity that would make a sailor cringe, all with an ear-to-ear smile. It would be glorious. I've literally been dreaming of catching a salmon- at least for now, the allure of the mighty salmon has overshadowed my quest for smallies.

Alex was nice enough to drop me off at my work on his way out- all in all a great morning, although with not many fish to show for it. That's ok- we would be back, and we would slay them. Or not. But either way, we each had a new fishing friend, and hopefully soon one of us would buy a net. Cause those salmon are BIG!

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