"Paddling or Trolling" I asked Norma on Wednesday morning. We were anchored near the mooring field at Echo Bay outside of New Rochelle, NY. It was forecast to be another no-wind day and the rocks and public beach looked interesting, but Norma chose trolling.
We took our time, had some breakfast and got underway at about 9 am. I started trolling right outside the bay but did not see much on the fish finder. I tell people that I have one of the few sailboats with a fish finder. I even had a special transducer mounted in the hull for it. After the first hour I decided to run across the sound to the mouth of Manhasset Bay. I know we wanted to spend the night in Oyster Bay because Thursday's forecast was for good wind we could use to sail North East, back across to the North side and we were looking forward to a nice sail.
We slowed down and started trolling, there was one other boat in the vicinity, drift fishing. A small group of boats were fishing some banks a few mile east but I decided to try about a mile off Manhasset. Not long after we started, Norma spotted a bait ball (a group of small bait fish) near the surface and some of them were jumping out of the water. That is often a sign tha some bigger fish are chasing them from below, A third boat had spotted them also and was heading over towards them but we two captains seemed ready to respect each other and we were both able to get to the area with space for both of us. Just as our lures got to the edge of the bait ball, one of the two poles we had out bent down and the fight was on!
It was a decent fight and I knew it was a pretty big fish. Around here that would mean a bluefish or a stripped bass. When I had it about 10 feet from the stern of the boat it leapt from the water. Norma got the net, which on Afterglow is an attachment for the end of our boat hook. I told her to get it behind the fish and scoop hard, which she did well, but the fish was heavy enough that Norma needed my help lifting it into the boat. We took the fish down below to measure it and it came in at 24 inches. There are no size limits on blue and the season is year-round so I got to keep the first bluefish I ever caught!
We put the fish into the galley sink and went back up to reset the trolling rig. By now the other boat was bringing in a fish and it was inconvenient to our path back to the bait ball but Norma again spotted another nearby with the small fish jumping and steered us over there while I got the rig out. Sure enough, within 15 minutes of landing the first blueish, we had another on deck, and this time it was even bigger at 26 inches. Again, Norma did a great job with the net and the two of us lifted it onto the boat together.
We figured that 2 big blues were enough for us even though the limit is three, so as Norma steered the boat for Oyster Bay, I went below to filet the fish. We switched off and Norma did the scaling. We put three of the filets into the freezer for later and Norma cooked the forth one as she described in her last blog post.
It is two days later now. We had a good time in Oyster Bay and enjoyed "Teddy's Town" had a great day sail back across the Sound and a forgettable evening in Stamford, CT, then a relaxing slow sail into Port Jefferson and back into an area of salt marsh called Conscience Bay, where we had a nice paddle in our kayaks to collect some sand (actually gravel, to our surprise) and view some nature up close. We hope to spend at least two or more nights here so will post more about it later. We are not sure where our next port-of-call will be.