From the archives: Our introduction to Chatham Light  (7/24/96)

ChathamInlet.jpg (73301 bytes)Due to Charles sore back, we decided not to take the bounding off-road drive down Nauset Beach, but instead, go for an "easy night" of fishing.  We recalled rumors of good fishing at Chatham Light, and opted to give it a go.   It was an overcast and foggy evening, not unlike many summer nights in Chatham.  Starting at 8:00 PM, with some fading light and heavy fog, I tried using a Robert’s Ranger in order to cover lots of water.  At around 8:05 PM, a schoolie striper obliged, and we were on the scoreboard.  However, as the night darkened, and the sky cleared, the fishing slowed.  We walked southeast, toward the bowl, and towards the bars of the outer beach.  On the way out, I remember passing many fishermen, but since it was a slow night, on the way back, there was only one angler left. 

By now it was near midnight, and still only one fish on the scoreboard.  As we approached the red buoy at the bowl, I could hear Charles drag serenade the presence of a decent fish.  Using a Bomber, he landed this nice Bass around 12:35 AM.  Soon thereafter, I had one on, as well.  Since this was a work night, a Wednesday, we did not want to stay out too late.   As we continued walking/fishing our way back, we had another fish around 12:30.  The night air was still, the sky had grown quite clear, and the moonlight revealed current swirls during the end of the outgoing tide.  Otherwise, the water was flat.  This was about the time something magical happened. 

Both of us began to get lots of hits, though few fish stayed hooked.  It seemed that a pod of fish invaded the area, and these members had attitude.   I’ve never had so many lost fish, broken lines, and mishaps!  The ends of our lines showed significant fraying from battling these fish in the strong current.  As though a light bulb went on, I recalled reading stories like this where the solution was heavy and long leaders.  We used three to four foot sections of thirty-pound leader, tied black needlefish on, and went at ‘em!  Now we were ready.   Though we never saw splashes, there had to be loads of sizeable fish, and they were hungry.  With at least a tap on every cast, the action was frantic.  Frequently, we hooked up, and the rods would double over from the weight of these good fish.  When Charles landed a 36-inch fat bass, he kept it as his prize.  Both of us landed a few fish, but it seemed that most broke tackle, lines, hooks and regained their freedom.  I had never experienced such bonanza fishing from shore, and felt thrilled yet frustrated.

After an hour or so into the blitz, Charles back convinced him to rest on the sandy shore, with his prized keeper beside him.  Incredibly, I had hooks straightened on a couple of needlefish, on more than one occasion.  I released a few keepers, but knew there were larger fish in this bunch, and was determined to hang in there.  Removing the heaviest hooks from a swimming plug, I transferred them to my heaviest black needlefish.   This combo provided great casting distance, yielding even more action.  Upon retrieval, I braced myself for the inevitable …. tap, another tap, and finally a take down.  With the weight of a good fish, I hauled back to drive the hook home.  Fearing straightened hooks again and another lost fish, I lightened the drag, and resorted to more coaxing and finesse rather than continue slugging it out.   The fight was give and take, with the "taking" portion of the battle causing me great concern due to the strength of the fish and current.    Following each of these runs, I was able to turn the brute, and regain line.   After a considerable time, the fish was nearing the shallows.  Under the starlight, you could see the dorsal fin, and considering the size of the swirls, if I could land this gal, we could go home!  When I gently slid the bass onto the beach, it was clear that this was my largest bass ever caught from shore.  It measured 42 ?inches, and 26 pounds.  Our "easy" night of fishing thereby ended, promptly near 3:00 AM! 

Chatham Light, 1996, provided the most incredible surf fishing I’ve ever experienced.  It was here, on 9/27/96, that I saw a keeper jump out of the water to take a lure dangling from Jim Allen’s rod, as he was preparing to cast!   Boy-o-boy, did that green fish take some line, what a screech that drag made.   The fishing here was so consistent, we’d play games of "name your cast" for your fish!   On more than one occasion, we saw commercial fisherman dragging home stringers of multiple keepers.  Since that time, for whatever reason, the fishing hasn’t been the same, at least not for me, but I'll never forget the summer of ’96 at Chatham Light.