Hand lining again – August 17th
I was on the ocean with Jeffrey and Joe, guided offshore Pacific City by Capt. John Harrell in the dory Gold Comet. The forecast was for winds to pick up by 9 AM, and there were five to six ft swells to carefully consider as we launched at 6:45.
John ran out roughly north of Haystack Rock and immediately located a big school of black rockfish suspended mid-depth in about forty feet of water. This was the first dory fly fishing experience for both Joe and Jeffrey: both were surprised and displayed big smiles within the first five minutes with fly rod in hand, nice heavy black rockfish pulling on the other end of their lines.
Capt. John put us on fish constantly for the next two hours, and the action was pretty much non-stop. The ocean was a tad on the rough side and we all took turns stumbling around in the boat while fighting fish.
Jeffrey fished an ECHO PRIME, Joe fished an ECHO BASE; both 8 wt rods, with SA 450 gr Streamer Express fast sinking fly lines. Their flies were of course expertly tied me, # 2 pink & white Clousers. Bass were layered anywhere from ten feet under the dory to 40 or 50 ft down.
I chose a different approach, and deploying a Hatch Tropical 400 gr fast sinking fly line, fished by hand, straight off the fly reel. This was a continuation of my previous day’s test fishing with a 30 ft salvaged chunk fly of line. Today, I had a full fly line on a (loose) reel, allowing me to reach fish that were laying deeper than when I had only fished the thirty-footer.
My technique was no-nonsense efficiency. I stripped about fifty feet of line from the reel, laid it in the tackle tray, and lowered my fly overboard to swim though the feeding bass. When I felt my line under tension, indicating that my fly was down, I proceeded to put my Clouser in motion, with short 6 inch strips and distinct pauses between.
I found myself most comfortable leaning against the side of the dory, back near the stern, and leaning over the side with my hand a foot or so above the water’s surface, working the fly and waiting to feel a grab. I discovered that somewhat it was tricky to achieve a secure hook set by hand, compared to fishing with a rod. The rod allows one to move more line quickly, but when hand-lining, I found it necessary to quickly and decisively raise my arm to get a positive hook set.
Feel the grab? Man-oh-man did I feel the grab. I had so darn much fun and thoroughly enjoyed the two hours we fished over the bass. Capt. John had his hands full with Jeffrey, Joe, and me constantly fighting fish, hauling our fish into the dory, destined for the fish box, and occasionally helping untangle our lines.
Considerable teasing was directed my way, with commentary noting that the guy with such an extensive supply of fly rods seemed to have forgotten to bring one.
John smiled noted that I was doing a fair job of holding my own in the catching department, and wondering if this might become a technique known as Jaykara fishing. Catchy term contrasting Tenkara fishing (using a rod but no reel) to my fishing a line with no rod.
Think I like it.
Now that I think of it, the first fish I ever caught were in the Bosphorus, near Istanbul, Turkey, when I was six years old. Now I’m 66 and find that hand lining is just as much fun, just as exciting, as it was six decades ago.
May sound repetitious, but it’s true: another great day out on the ocean fly fishing. Thanks gentlemen.
Looking forward to the next opportunity to get out and see what the ocean delivers to the finely tuned fly rod and reel – and to the hand-liner.
Jay Nicholas, August 18, 2015.