Planning a Cape Cod trip

I am close to flat broke. I can drive up there in 2 or 3 hours.

But I need everything provided for me.

I am a bum.

A place to sleep

With a dog.

I can also crash now, leave at midnight. But still have mutt.

We’ll buy you a room, you have to figure out the dog.

Max recommends bookings.com.

Find one cheap and near, and get up here.

Dennisport will have something.

Times have been financially very tough, and I can’t seem to get it together.

Normally I get a check from Dad for my bday.

But this year he sent a box of tampons, to teach me to take care of business like a man.

That’s a solid dad move. I look forward to sending my son tampons.

When I got the package in the mail I thought it might be a reel.

But it was way too light.

Not even a super light lamson.

But I held out hope, hoping it could be a super high tech, ultra light reel of space age metals…

It was either that, or a box of tampons.

And you got the tampons?

Yes I did.

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Hooked

Great White was a great band.

They had it all.

Great bracelets.

Great necklaces.

And rings that left no doubt, who was lead singer.

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I loved those guys.

My kids don’t have anything quite like it, unfortunately, although my oldest son, Joseph, likes Elsa from Frozen.

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All the guys from Great White had great hair.

And not one of the band members needed a rooster hair weave

I am writing a book proposal for a major publisher.

The working title is “Hooked,” after the Great White classic rock album from 1991.

Here’s our cover art:

GOLDEN BEETLE HOOKED

Captain’s Log: June 5th-7th

Plymouth Harbor

Sometimes the captain worries a lot more than he should.  This was one of those weekends, for the weekend had high expectations for many reasons. Every year since Jay took me fishing in Duxbury, I have been falling in love (becoming obsessed) with the area. For the past 4 years, I’ve taken a long weekend, usually around Memorial Day, and rented a house in Manomet, with the pure idea of fishing hard for several days.  Whoever would like to come and catch me in between fishing and sleeping, they are most welcome. Many close friends have come over the years, and now it has become quite a wonderful tradition.  It kicks off the striper season in full force. It kicks off the summer. It just kicks ass…in theory.  For in the past two years, new England has been blasted with cold, honking north winds and rain over the Memorial Day weekend, which has subsequently shut the fishing down completely.  And even the meager attempts that the GhettoFly did manage out on the water in the past two years, she has broken down. Every time.  This is no way to run a charter. Sometimes the captain gets so frustrated, he seriously considers scuttling the ship and collecting the insurance money.

Bontempi, has faithfully made the journey up from New York City for the past two years and has been rewarded with nothing but a hangover. Last year we didn’t even get one cast off.  The optimistic news was that at least so far the GhettoFly has been purring like a baby cougar and fishing reports have been looking better than last year already. The weather was the same crap as in previous years in the beginning of the week, but it looked like it could clear by the weekend. Bontempi was scheduled again for Saturday and Sunday, and I was hoping he didn’t completely think that my insistance that Plymouth had world-class striper fishing was a bunch of malarky. Because after all, sometimes the captain is full of shit.

But before Bontempi would be on board, I had my first charter of the season on Friday, with Bish and Dave, two old time fishing friends and their first time on the GhettoFly.  They got the discounted rate, since they bring great beers and food, are consumate pro fishermen, and make me laugh all day.  We met at 4:30am and it was a dead calm, glassy red sky morning.  Before we even poked our noses out of the harbor, we could see swirls on the water. I cut the engine 15 seconds after leaving the dock, silently pulled out a rod rigged with a white, feather-tailed, custom-tied Ghetto-popper, tapped Dave on the shoulder and whispered, “Throw this right on his head.”   Dave did so and retrieved…nothing.  I whispered again, “Pop it in a rhythm, they like that…the same way Bish likes it in the…” (I don’t usually talk like that, but these are high school buddies who break each other’s balls all day long, and I tried to join in because I don’t want them to know that I’m a pussy.) Dave gets a follow, but misses him. I say, “Cast again, don’t set on the splash, wait to feel the weight of the fish.”  Cast….splash….pop…pop…pop…SPLASH….Fish on!  It was fantastic, because sometimes the captain looks like a genius.  It was going to be a good day…Except, that was the only fish either of them caught the whole rest of the day. And we were out…all day. 

It has been a strange season so far in Plymouth, or at least this is what I told them.  There has been no massive bird action that is so typical of the spring, and no big pods of blitzing fish hitting anything you throw at them.  All the fish reports, and my only other solo outing this year, has shown the fish tight on the bottom, and very finicky.  We set up some drifts in likely spots, and I was only fishing to try and see what lures might be working.  Turns out that the Kastmaster worked cause I caught a nice schoolie after 20 minutes or so.  I handed off the rod, and Bish got a few bumps but no takes.  It was going to be a tough day, so to soften things we all started drinking (after Bish fished his second beer out of the cooler around 6:30am).  Nothing happened.  We ran over in front of Clarks Island, and kept opening beers.  I took a couple casts and started telling old drinking stories to past the time.  Not paying attending and in the middle of a story, I hooked into a good keeper with a herring-colored jerk shad on a 3/4oz leadhead I “borrowed” from Dave’s tackle bad.  Drag sang for a bit under the muffled sounds of curses from the crew.  Because sometimes the captain is just a lucky asshole.  The fish was shy of 30 inches and went into the box to be the guest of honor at the weekend BBQ.  Thanks again to Dave who lent me his new Sog knife that was very sharp and quickly dispatched the fish.

After another drift, I actually caught a flounder on that same shad, so I sat on my ass and drank more. Then after about three more beers, I took about three casts hooked another striper just under a keeper, and brought it boatside.  Trying to grab it, I high sticked him, and pulled the lure right out of his mouth which flew and smacked me hard in my mouth and cut my lip.  Because sometimes the captain can also be a drunken idiot. Bish was bottom fishing this whole time with clams, and I generously handed him my rod and took over his.  5 seconds later, I caught another 13″ winter flounder on Bish’s clams.  It was a great day, meaning I was lucky to make it back to shore alive without a solid beating from the mostly skunked crew.  However, also being consummate gentlemen, they thanked me and bought me a delicious lunch and more beer, because I didn’t want this time to end…

At 3:45am the next morning, Bontempi was making me coffee in the kitchen of our Manomet house.  He arrived the night before and we sat outside catching up and smoking cigars until around midnight. I knew there were fish out there, it was just getting Bontempi on them.  He deserved to finally have a good day, especially after dragging himself and his wife up here in rush hour, NY city traffic.  He’s put in his time. It was time for the payoff.

We arrived at the dock the same time as yesterday, shoved off, and I saw the same swirl in the same exact spot right outside the harbor.  Bontempi threw the same popper at him, and got a follow, but I think the fish recognized the lure and backed off.  This was going to be another tough day. 

I took a lap around the mouth of the harbor and looked for birds.  I wasn’t really expecting them, since I hadn’t seen anything like that yet this season. So I wasted no time making a decision to head closer to land.  My thoughts were that there was another hour of water from yesterday before dead low tide, and there were fish consistently in tight just outside the harbor.  So I glided toward one of my favorite protected spots closer to land, because I really was planning on getting skunked and at least the area was pretty to look at.  It was still glassy calm and quiet so I had Bontempi stay with the popper in the early light.  And no shit after about 5 casts, I heard the unmistakable explosion of a fish on the surface of the water. They were here! Because sometimes, the captain guesses just right. 

Bontempi missed that first strike, but he didn’t miss many after that.  For the rest of the morning, he nailed fish all on top water from around 24 to 28 inches.  We had the whole place to ourselves.  Fish started hitting the surface and only a few small birds came so no one saw us.  I got in on the action with the fly rod and a gurgler and got a nice one in that same size class.  It was epic, and Bontempi really mastered the art of making the popper dance, and waiting the heart-stopping second after the explosion to set the hook.  Later, we saw some larger groups of birds finally working out a ways and screamed over.  No fish were showing themselves, but we set up drifts in the area.  In no time, I watched a huge fish crush Bontempi’s popper. It was big.  Drag started screaming. The back of the fish breached out of the water. It was a figgin leviathan, at least 3 feet long. Suddenly, Bontempi’s line went slack and I thought the fish was running at him.  He reeled in and I asked if the fish straightened the hook.  Yes, indeed. A fish of the season for sure was lost on a cheap hook. It happens.  We fished some more and caught some more schoolies, now just padding our stats.  These were on the bottom and we got them on jigs, including a Baymen Universal jig I tied up for the trip.  I couldn’t get it to work, but Bontempi did.  After the water pretty much was all dumped out off the harbor we started back, and instantly got flagged down by an anchored boat. They were stranded in their Triumph boat with an overheating Mercury engine, which incidentally is the same boat and engine that is the GhettoFly, and the same problem that had me stranded me inn this Harbor for the past two years.  Needless to say, we reveled in the irony and pleasure of returning a favor and towing them back in.  It was a nice slow ride home and we enjoyed our celebratory beers and savoured a really great day.  We stopped for breakfast and bloody marys and couldn’t believe our good fortune.  We also knew we had tomorrow to try it all again…

[End part one]

Keep your lines tight and your rod up,

GhettoFly

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Dear Publisher,

Hello Mr. Publisher:  My name is John Stewart, and I am a blogger.

I believe my blog should be published as a print book.

It is that good of a blog.

Check it out at http://goldenbeetle.net.

Thanks for your time.  If you decide not to publish us, there is always Whitefish.

They will publish just about anything.

Best regards, 
John.

Hook_Mini


This is Volume 1, of “The History of the Fish Hook in America,” from Whitefish Press.

Its long like War and Peace, only with no plot, and every page is about fish hooks.

Good luck finding Volume 2.

Not even Whitefish would publish it.

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Here’s one for the aspiring creek chub fisherman.

Worthy of publication?

Let me rephrase the question…

Worthy of publication at Whitefish?

Why the fuck not?

Upper Delaware with Joe and Charlie, 6.2.15

Charlie,

Congratulations on a fine day of fishing yesterday!

4 trout and 4 smallmouth!

You did very well, considering it was your second time on the river.

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Someday, perhaps, you will outfish me.

Until then, study the fishery.

And learn from the Master.

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The rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, is an accident of history, from the McCloud River in northern California:

There are several different stories about just how the Delaware River’s amazing rainbow trout fishery began. The most memorable one was the tale of an Erie train that was carrying cans of rainbow trout to stock the cool waters of the West Branch. According to the story, there was a train wreck and in the plight to save the fish on board, they were dumped into Callicoon Creek.

Like the snakehead of the Potomac, it is an invasive species.

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So is salmo trutta.

The brown trout is a German species, a genetic supertrout that in the 30s was declared to be “superior” to its relatives; a predator that would grow bigger than its cousins and wipe out the indigenous brook trout from American waters.

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Brown trout apologists included Theodore Gordon, whose sympathies to the German fish echoed those of Charles Lindbergh toward the German Reich:

I honor the sentiment which inspires the lover of the native fish, but I remember what the fishing was in the old days before brown trout were introduced, and what it is at the present time. The trout were numerous, but the average size was very small… The first time I fished the Willowemoc, thirty years ago, one could take many trout, but a large proportion were smaller than I would now care to basket. It was the same on the Beaverkill, and Neversink. We did not have nearly as many battles with sizable trout as we do nowadays. [The inferior brook trout never] thrilled our nerves with wild excitement [like the preferred German strain does today].

It is natural and patriotic to exaggerate the fine qualities of our own trout and to remember with delight our early fly fishing experiences, but for the man who prefers a reasonable number of fairly large trout to many little ones the sport is better, upon the whole, in this part of New York than it was in the days of ‘fontinalis’ only.

I don’t distinguish these European invaders from the hordes of snakeheads that have infiltrated our waterways.

The view, that European imports are somehow better than Asian, has its roots in racial politics, eugenics and small-minded bigotry:

These wars in Europe are not wars in which our civilization is defending itself against some Asiatic intruder… This is not a question of banding together to defend the white race against foreign invasion.

So says Charles Lindbergh.

This is why we slaughter the snakehead, but stock the brown trout. It looks enough like our brook trout, but grows bigger, and offers a more thrilling fight.

But the brown trout – like the rainbow – is an invasive species.

The smallmouth is too, an import by way of the Ohio River and Lake Ontario.

Here’s the count of invasive species caught from yesterday, Charlie.

You caught 4 invasive trout.

I caught 2.

You also caught 4 invasive bass.

I caught 0.

That’s 8 invasives for you, and 2 for me.

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I am a snob for the native fish.

And target them exclusively.

A trout to me is an undesirable trash fish, and if I can unhook one of these unwelcome pests, before bringing it to net, I will.

A spawned out shad, however, is a jewel of the river.

I caught 3.

Not the early season fighting shad… Delaware baby tarpon.

But shad no less.

Alosa sapidissima.

The shad is one of the oldest, native residents of the river.

Along with Semotilus corporalis, the fish of every cast.

I caught 13, S. corporalis, all fine specimens.

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You caught only 2 of these prized native residents of the Delaware.

Not for trout snobs…

But for river historians, such as myself.

So, by my count, I caught 18 fish.

16 natives.

You caught 10 fish.

(Nothing to be ashamed of, my friend.)

But only 2 natives.

Better luck next time, Charlie.

I win, again…

Thanks to S. corporalis

The mighty chub.

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Broken bones

JK busted his hip this spring.

March 7.

The whole bone was broken into 2 separate parts.

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Here he is yesterday:

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Now the good leg – the one that wasn’t busted – had to do some extra work for the bad leg.

The bad leg took what it needed to get better.

Not really a bad leg, except that it was a broken leg.

A moral leg, I’d say, if there ever was one.

It takes what it needs to get better, without asking the good leg.

The good leg gave whatever it could, to help the bad leg, without having to be asked.

It never questioned whether the bad leg was not just materially broken, but an immoral, lazy leg, the type the wants to sit around all day and not do its fair share of the work…

But still tags along for all the adventures, while the good leg carries all the weight!

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The bad leg was actually broken.

It would have preferred not to be snapped in two.

And it endured all the pain on its own, of breaking…

So there ain’t really a good and a bad leg, now, is there?

Legs ain’t actually moral, are they?

They kinda just get better, when there’s a break.

One takes what it needs, and the other gives to compensate.

The rest of life is a bit more complicated, especially injuries to people that require the help of other people.

Those are tough cases.

We can choose not to help, and create fictions to justify not helping people who truly are just like us.

The left leg and the right leg?

No different.

But between people?

There’s a choice to heal or not.

That’s really it.

Taking is not immoral.

If its necessary.

And giving isn’t either.

I would imagine that the good leg will feel a whole lot better too, when the bad leg is healed.

But imagine if the good leg decided not to help the bad leg?

The lazy, no good, indigent leg?

And not carry the extra weight?

Both legs would get weak, wouldn’t they?

That’s our country, for chrissake.

And our families.