Thursday, July 21, 2011

Eel Karma

For the last five years, I have been fortunate to work for an organization that is devoted to protecting and improving one of my favorite places: Long Island Sound. My position revolves around outreach and volunteer coordination, which, from time to time, requires public speaking and education about Sound-related topics. For example, last Saturday I staffed a small festival in New Haven. It was a celebration of the local West River and an opportunity for kids in an urban environment to learn about their watershed through various organizations and activities. 

Save the Sound, a program of CT Fund for the Environment, is working on a major habitat restoration project along this river, which entails replacing three of 12 aging tide gates that will greatly increase tidal flow and fish passage. To help explain how this this project is tied to fish passage, I purchased eels from a bait shop and brought them with me to the festival. The vast majority of the kids present had never seen an American eel up close before. They got to learn all about these resilient creatures and named each eel before releasing them into the river with a second lease on life. It was a cool moment on a hot day for all those involved, especially the eels. 

Later on that day, I made plans with friends Derrick and Kurt for a Connecticut surfcasting trip. Captain Mike from Reel Cast Charters fished the same piece of eastern Sound shoreline by boat the previous night and was rewarded with a 35-pound striper on none other than a live eel. We picked up a stash of the striper candy and drove east with a bright moon overhead. It was a warm night and after a good walk in waders we were drenched with sweat. The three of us set up shop in close proximity, casting and retrieving for an hour without a hit. I eventually broke from the pack and got my first bump of the night, which turned out to be a small bass. Another 20 minutes went by before my next strike, but this time it felt like a better fish. After a decent fight and a few peels of drag, an 18-pound striper lay at my feet. She kicked off strong after a couple minutes of revival time in the warm water.

A few drifts later with a fresh eel, I felt a nice take, but not a lot of pull. The fight was rather uneventful until the fish got very close to me and kicked it up a few notches. She was pushing much more water than the other two bass I had landed already, so I had a feeling it was bigger in size and and it was. A healthy striped bass somewhere in the low 20-pound range was hooked deeper than I would have liked, which explained the poor fight. I cut the line and she kicked off stronger than any other fish that night. The way hooks rust in a saltwater environment, I'm pretty confident that bass will be hook-free in the near future. 

That proved to be the last bit of action for the night and I was flying high the for the long walk then drive home. I was lucky to have the hot hand that night and I think the eel karma from earlier in the day payed off! 

1 comment:

  1. way to get out and share your passion for the sound and environment with those kids. Looks like you were rewarded for sharing that passion as well.

    Thank you!