Archive for the ‘fish tales’ Category

After a fruitless morning of surfcasting the outer cape beaches, James finally lands a Marconi Beach prize bluefish. Here he shows off the roughly 15 lb fish before returning it to the surf to live another day.

7/28/2011, Marconi Beach, Wellfleet, MA – You shoulda seen it, the blitz coming down the beach was like an approaching storm except on closer inspection it could be seen that massive silvery fish bodies were hurtling, teeth first, out of the wildly boiling water and crazy-hungry seabirds were plummeting into the surf to greedily devour baitfish trapped between the madding school below and the circling kamikaze squad above. Suddenly the lifeguards started whistling everyone out of the water.

James, who’s been observing the approach of the frenzied school since he first spotted a few birds on the horizon says “it’s time!” and starts casting out his bright pink bluefish bomber, landing it 200-300 feet offshore and into the wild melee. In the span of two or three casts, he takes repeated hits on the bomber (that scar it for life we later observe) but the bomber’s large single hook isn’t doing the trick and while he has several close calls, he fails to hook up. I see him running up the beach for the tackle box, “gotta get a treble on!” he yells. I’m hoping the blitz doesn’t pass by while he’s switching up tackle. I’ve already decided to stick it out with my chunk mackerel glued to the bottom about 150 feet out. But in that instant I feel the school passing over my line like a buzzsaw and I’m left with nothing but a bare hook.

Meanwhile, James deftly unclips the bomber from his snap swivel and attaches his favorite “old faithful,” a solid metal tin with chipped blue and silver reflective finish and whips it out into the surf. It barely hits the water when his rod curves over into the classic C-shape and he bellows out “FISH ON!” (thanks Dan Smith for instilling that habit in my kids). Once, twice, three times, I see him pull back hard on the rod, just makin’ sure the hook is set good he’d say. 😛

Then the fight begins in earnest as the big fish lunges seaward, stripping 40 Lb braid off of James’ buzzing reel like a giant sewing machine whipping through a fresh spool of thread. James backs up the beach a bit and pulls back on his rod to gain a few feet of line then quickly reels it forward and repeats a few times before the fish, with renewed vigor, turns tail, and strips off another 20 or 30 feet of line!

As this is taking place, a crowd of onlookers, mostly people who were in the water a few minutes ago until evicted by the guards, has begun to gather around him, talking excitedly among themselves about what might be on the other end of the line, and how big it may be.  He continues the give and take with his quarry as the crowd grows thick on the beach, many people cutting through the now 3-4 person deep arc of onlookers to snap pictures of James’ epic battle. Suddenly there’s a silvery splash just offshore. “I see it!” yells somebody and the whole crowd gasps as they’re treated to a perfect view of the giant fish gunning sideways through the crystal-clear water of the nearest swell, still battling fiercely to get back out to the deep water. Then in a moment, James hauls the flopping fish up onto the wet sand and the crowd erupts into spontaneous applause as a few veteran fishermen, warning kids to keep fingers and toes back from the toothsome critter, step out of the crowd to assist with subduing the heaving fish, holding it down so I can unhook the lure without losing any fingers in the process.

And as quickly as it started, it’s all over.  The blitzing fish have continued northward along the beachhead towards Lecount’s Hollow, and the crowd has dissipated, returning to their towels and umbrellas and the water with a few curious onlookers hanging around long enough to ask James if he plans to keep it. In response, James poses for a few shots with his prize then releases the magnificent beast back into the surf from whence it came.

I often find myself, camera in hand, glued to the front of my fish tank.  Can never get enough of the constantly changing interplay of color set against that lush green background.  I find the real challenge when shooting the fish tank is getting enough light to capture the constantly moving fish without blurring.  This despite the fact that the tank itself is equipped with four 4′ florescent high-output lamps, half full-spectrum, and half actinic-daylight.  As it turns out though, despite all those lumens, the best shots ultimately come when the fish pause momentarily, and in that same moment I get lucky enough to be pulling the trigger.  What does this mean?  It means that to get pics like the ones below, typically takes me 20-30 shots while I wait for that lucky pause 😉
nom! nom! nom!

Pleco (Hypostomus plecostomus) gnawing on aged White Pine driftwood (yummy!) in my 70 gallon planted tank

Glowlight Tetra (Hemigrammus erythrozonus) in my 70 Gallon planted tank

An unknown species of Killifish (unknown to me that is, not unknown in the scientific sense) in my 70 gallon planted tank. This is one of several "surprises" that Justin picked up at a Boston Aquarium Society auction and sneaked into my tank during the night...

Dropping your mobile phone in the fish tank is never a good thing.

An overall view of my 70 gallon planted tank. You can see a little bit about how the tank is custom built right into shelving in the livingroom so it's a little more like part of the house and a little less like an elephant in the room.

70 gallon at the surface

For a while, I kept Salvinia, a floating surface plant like duckweed on steroids. Was beautiful to see, and from below was practically mystical, but in the end, I had to hog it out as it spread so fast and so thick, it blocked much of the overhead light which impacted the rest of the submersed plants.


One of my all-time favorite fish (notice I said "one of", it's really not possible to pick just one!). Here a small school of Rummynose Tetras (Hemigrammus rhodostomus) hovers in front of a giant Crypto in my 70 gallon planted tank.

The Great Woods, Mansfield MA

Lake Winnesquam Sunny

Finch on feeder admiring its reflection in the dining room window

cohasset mill river striper

Photo of Jules with Striped Bass from Mill River in Cohasset


Stripers corner baitfish in a blitz below the Mill River rapids on the outgoing tide.  Jules & James rush out onto the rocks to try their luck. Not long after James hauls in a schoolie, Jules does the same.  Her first Striper ever!