Editor’s Log: Rite Of Spring, Right For Fall? - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: Rite Of Spring, Right For Fall?

When I saw the date that this issue would be coming out I was immediately whisked back in time, 20 years, to when I first really dug my heels into the surfcasting game. This was a time when the internet was still protected by old school ideals, so there wasn’t any roadmap for easy striper success. YouTube wasn’t yet ‘a thing’ either, all I had were magazines and books.

It’s true that inlets are great places for someone who is trying to get better at this sport to put in a lot of time. This was the consensus in the books and articles I was reading and so I spent a ton of time at one particular inlet. But around the 10th of October, way back in 2002, I made the decision to try and expand my horizons. I didn’t know how to fish the rocks or read a beach so I used a Capt. Segull chart to find another inlet.

It was a Tuesday morning, my day off, and I awoke very early to fish. I didn’t want to put all my eggs in the basket of this new spot, so I hit my ‘old reliable’ inlet first. The bite was slow, but I did land a 20-pounder right at dawn on a Bomber Long A. An hour later I had no other hits and packed it in to scout the other spot.

There weren’t even footprints in the sand at this place but the water was so deep at the mouth that it looked black. With the same Bomber tied on, I cast into the dropping tide and watched the pearl swimmer wiggle back to my feet, at least a dozen stripers followed it! I slowed the swim on my next cast and landed a 24-inch schoolie. I grabbed my other rod and tossed an eel into the dark water, that resulted in an 18-pounder and then another of comparable size on the same eel.

As I walked and casted in what was really more of a backwater estuary with a deep cut, I hooked over a dozen bass including two in the high 20-pound class and I lost one that was easily in the mid-30’s (which, at the time, would have been my personal best if it didn’t come off!) This was all between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on a bluebird, sunny October day.

I kind of learned this place in reverse because it didn’t show its true value until the following spring, the place was practically magic in those early years; it was nothing to catch 10 fish between 15 and 25 pounds in May or June. But I never forgot how potent it was in the fall. Autumn surf anglers here in the Northeast seem to think of the backwaters as the domain of fly fishermen and schoolie chasers, but there is a magic time in October when the backwaters that produce well in the spring see a resurgence, and my experience says that time starts now and ends around Halloween.

These fish are not always going to be willing to smash a Doc, crush a swimmer or thump a darter, but if you’re willing to sling some eels, you may find yourself catching the caliber of fish you’ve been waiting for all season long in the surf. And even though my examples are surfcasting examples, tin boats and kayaks will work every bit as well. Don’t sleep on those spring striper spots this month!

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