December Fishing–Present & Past

Visions of blitzes and Christmas Bass dance in my head

The striped bass season here officially ended last week. But I had hung up my rod and reel well before–about the same time I cooked down our Thanksgiving turkey carcass for a hearty winter stock. I did not invoke any of the “C Clause” options in my surfcasting ‘arrangement” with the BW. Those include the baking of Christmas Cookies and the existence of the Coronavirus, either of which is an excuse to fish on the beach without limitations.

However, by the end of November the weather turned frigid, even micro-bass were scarce in the surf, and I needed to move on with an overdue kitchen renovation. That added up to no December fishing for me. I’m off the East End for the rest of this calendar year.  

It was a great fall fishing season with more time in the surf than in any past year I can remember (thank you COVID-19). Still, I am nostalgic for some of the special moments that December surf fishing can bring.  I think especially of the famous 2006 fish call from Jack Yee that led to a keeper blitz on the beach at Cupsoque County Park as a full moon rose over Great South Bay in the east, and the sun set over the ocean to the west, late on an early December afternoon.

DECEMBER FISHING: I’ll also miss some off-the-beach extra-curricular activates like this bygone episode of the Captain Harvey Bennett Mobile Tackle Report, which we’re fortunate to have in the archives. (click photo for video)
BEACH RYDER: Gleaning and cleaning for treasures and trash.

I’ll regret not being on the beach for a chance to witness the legendary but rarely seen “Christmas Bass” experience. As the story goes, many young striped bass winter over in sheltered northern waters rather than migrate south to deeper, warmer ocean grounds off the Carolina coast. Some of these stay behinds are blind and you can identify them by their totally clouded eyes. I saw only one Christmas Bass landed on the beach–more than a decade ago–by the late “Lenny the Fish” of Amagansett. If any of these Christmas Bass are to be caught and released this year, I’m certain that LeeBob will hunt them down along the back bays beaches he’ll prowl throughout the hibernate months ahead. Neither wintry weather nor the dearth of fish keeps LeeBob and his trusty protégée–4-year-old son Ryder–from their appointed rounds: treasure hunting for stray lures, and cleaning up the beaches of assorted other flotsam in the process. Always, of course, with a rod and reel within their reach. 

What I surely won’t miss are finger-numbing moments trying to catch every last fish with a notion to swim along the beach during a snowstorm. I last did that in 2017. Brrrr; never again. Instead, with profound, miserly economy, I’ll be sneaking out of my freezer, filets of smoked bluefish or mackerel every few weeks, while dreaming of the the arrival of the 2021 spring run.  Until then, the Fat Lady will continue to croon her 2020 version of “It’s Over!”  And I’ll be putting finishing touches on this year’s soon to come Fishmas Card with Big Brother Frank.

November morning……
…… December song.

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