Dave Micus, Plum Island Sound

July 25th, 2005

The Fellowship of the Fly
By Dave Micus

I tend to be a solitary angler. Time on the water is more than catching fish; it's an opportunity to "air my demons" as Dylan Thomas once said of his long solitary walks along the cliffs of Wales. Fishing alone lets me keep my own schedule and counsel, with no fear of that competitive vibe that ruins fishing and sometimes crops up when you fish with others.

But that's not to say that I won't fish in company if the company is good, and I had a chance to fish with fine company this weekend. I've recently had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of a group of fly fishers, mostly trouters (I'll forgive them), but also one striped bass aficionado, J.P. J.P. is the fly fishing manager of Orvis, Boston, and while his angling knowledge and prowess is what earned him this position, his last name must have given him the edge over other applicants.

Fischer.

Really.

As J.P. and I talked of fishing it came up that we were both free Saturday morning, and I invited him up to Plum Island Sound to fish my home waters from a kayak. Inviting others to share your pond is similar to hosting a party; you want everyone to have a good time. It's also one of those pleasant angling situations where you hope that your guest out fishes you, and this is the ultimate win/win situation. If he does catch more than you, you've gotten what you wanted; on the other hand you won't be extremely disappointed if your catch is greater than his.

And it's easy to relate to someone who shares your passion, not so easy to someone who doesn't. I'm known around town as an avid fly fisher, and when I run into non-fly fishers at the post office or grocery store they feel obligated to tell me about their great uncle Cabela, who not only fly fishes but "ties his own flies!" Even worse are those who do fish and tell me how they (or their uncle's barber) caught a 48 inch striped bass. I just grin and nod when talking to the former, but always question the latter- "were you fishing from a boat? Were you fishing bait?" If the answer is 'yes' I introduce them to MMMF (Micus Method for Measuring Fish): if you catch a fish from a power boat, you divide the length by two. If you catch the fish on bait you divide by two again. A 48 inch striped bass caught from a power boat using live bait is a 12 inch fish (48 divided by 2 divided by 2). By sharing this formula, I've fortunately reached the point where neighbors and acquaintances think I'm an eccentric old crank and don't often tell me the fishing exploits of themselves or obscure relations.

J.P. scored points by arriving prior to our agreed upon departure time of 5 am, even though he had an hour's drive to get to my house. We launched the kayaks at the boat ramp at the end of the street, and not sixty seconds into our trip he was tight to a bass. I breathed a sigh of relief, exhaling the smell of 'skunk' that lingers in my nostrils at the start of any fishing trip. We paddled to my favorite spot, Key West. No, not the Key West, but a sand beach off of a marsh bank that fishes well two hours either side of low tide and is only accessible by boat. At high tide it is completely submerged. The name given this spot by cartographers is Third Creek because of the three saltwater estuarine rivulets that converge there, but the locals call it triple creek. I call it Key West partly to allow me to talk of this spot without others knowing where it is, but mostly because, at dawn on a summer morning it is as beautiful as any place in the Keys; beautiful as any place in the world, for that matter.

But it's not a 'big fish' spot and this would be a test of our angling compatibility. If J.P. was a numbers cruncher or head hunter, he'd be disappointed, me even more so. We each caught fish, not big fish or big numbers, but enough to keep things interesting, and my concerns proved unfounded.

"This is a great spot," said J.P. enthusiastically.

I'm not sure how many fish we caught by the end of the day and it doesn't matter. We sat in my yard and drank coffee, gazed at the water and discussed rods and reels and lines and fish and destinations and books and all of those other things that bind fly anglers together.

"I have a friend visiting next week," J.P. said before he left. "Would you mind if I bring him up to fish?"

I didn't mind at all. ~ Dave

About Dave:

Dave Micus lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts. He is an avid striped bass fly fisherman, writer and instructor. He writes a fly fishing column for the Port City Planet newspaper of Newburyport, MA (home of Plum Island and Joppa Flats) and teaches a fly fishing course at Boston University.


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