Striped Bass, Bluefish, False Albacore, and Bonito migrate throughout the fall displaying an aggressive "all you can eat" baitfish buffet feeding style. Shoving, barging, heave and repeat as the main course flees for their lives. Fat and satiated to a point of gagging each predator is preparing for a very long and dangerous journey South.
Unlike today's eighty one degree anomaly, once the temperatures really drop mystical sea smoke appears. At first light the smoke is parted by a nearby school of False Albacore zipping across the surface leaving surreal curly tailed jet streams in their wake. The day warms and the fish keep feeding. If the fish are not on top just look for a bait ball- and you are likely to find fish nearby.
The bait ball shrinks. It always shrinks. Flocks of birds seated on the adjacent shoreline had their fill and indicate food is not far. Looking into the depths also confirms whether a feed has recently occurred as millions of remnant scales fall and sparkle as clearly as the Milky Way during winter's midnight sky.
The arrival of the seasonal Seal population and Gannets diving like comokazie jet fighters offshore is entertainment while searching for the next blitz. Seals make catching Striped Bass look simple as they play with their food. Tossing, catching, surely grinning at the funny guy waving a fly rod on the bow of the boat, as if to say with his mouthful "just grab it like this!" And yes, Seals steal fish right off your line, somehow leaving you to land the optimistic look of the still stunned Striper as they want to believe they still have a tail.
Warm thoughts arrive as whiffs of smokey wood stoves linger off the beach calling the ever weary guide home. Hot cider, fresh baked bread, smoked fish, and plenty of dark evenings lie ahead- perfect opportunities to recall the season's highlights and gear up for some southern adventures.