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Fishing for Striped Bass

By jstookey - Posted on 07 November 2017

Fishing: There's a reason they don't call it catching.

It's very late on Friday night, we're both tired after a long week of work followed by a long drive, and the motel we planned to stay at is charging a whopping $200 per night to stay. "We'll keep looking, thank you". This is not the weekend fishing shanty we were hoping for. We look for other places, but can find nothing but "delightful" hotels and bed and breakfasts, or places a half-hour drive inland. We need a place close to shore and ideally close to Sandy Hook, our ultimate destination. I even call the L Motel, where we stayed in absolute desperation several years ago after several days of no sleep. "Leonardo Motel". "Do you have any rooms available and if so what is the price?". "We're all booked up." Wha?!?

We are sort of stuck, so stop into late night food joint and eat a little food. It's around 11pm and it's not as if more options are appearing while we wait. I call the Empress Hotel in far away Asbury Park next to the Stone Pony, where we had a memorable stay many years ago after a Ween concert. It's the last place we ever though we'd end up again, and an unusual spot for a fisherman's retreat. But as we will quickly learn, this is the sort of place where there are (as J put it), "no questions asked". Well except one. "King size bed?" "Umm, two beds please." It's 1 am and the place is busy with a full bar, and an outdoor pool area with a party that's not looking like it's ending any time soon. In fact the whole town is alive. We are not the only ones looking to get a room at this hour if you know what I mean.

We spend the whole weekend a little slow moving. We wake up, get coffee and breakfast, then drive up and down the beach looking for any signs that the fish have arrived. It's pretty bleak out there. Fishing is always full of half-signs. When you feel a little bump on your rod you think, "ooooh, was that a fish"? It gets you a little deludedly excited just enough to motivate to keep focus until an actual fish hits your line. When a fish hits, there is no mistaking it. All those little bumps were just hitting weeds. In this same way, we'll see a little flash of white in the water (was that a fish hitting the surface?) or a small patch of dark water (is that a pod of paid?)? You look again for confirmation, but it never comes. Confirming that it was just a mirage.