First Light

Posted by Marty Shubert
On July 15, 2020

At 5:30 AM, in the predawn light of the morning, I slipped out of bed, leaving my wife Kathy sleeping, turned the coffee pot on, and then climbed the stairs to the bedrooms where my adult daughters were sleeping. I knock first on their doors, then I insert my head into the dark rooms and tell them, “Rise and Shine, the fish are waiting.” I insist on seeing an arm or leg moving to indicate concurrence. This brings back memories of my father doing the same when I was a young man, coaxing me out of bed for hunting trips. The first pot of coffee goes into a thermos for the trip; I learned to drink coffee early on as a young man on those trips. I am finishing making our tuna salad sandwiches for the cooler when the girls wander into the kitchen, bleary-eyed, and head to the second pot of coffee for a wakeup assist. I urge them to quickly organize themselves and remind them, “ One thing we’re not late for is fishing.” We are on schedule to depart at 6:00 AM and hope to leave with another boat from our boat harbor. My buddy Dennis will be joining us with his boat along with his son Matt.

Today, July 6, is the last day we can target Rockfish (Striped Bass) for the summer months. On previous days we had located schools of keeper Rockfish, so Dennis and I plan on wrapping up the holiday with one last trolling trip for Rockfish. Over the last few weeks I had been catching fish regularly and supplying my neighbors with fresh meat, so my freezer needed one more trip to replenish it. This was especially important in that over the 4th of July holiday, I found my grandkids had a new-found love of fish tacos.

As we walk to the boat, I hear the motors of Dennis’s boat-lift across the harbor. We are on schedule. By the time I’ve lowered my boat ”Osprey” from her lift and started the outboard, Dennis’s boat “Dos Maderas” is gliding by our stern. I pull out of the slip to follow in-trail for the quick trip out of the boat harbor. In the pastel light of morning, a full moon is just above the western horizon, the water is covered with small half ft high waves with a light wind from the South, and the temperature is an ideal 78 deg. The tide is just coming off the high, so the current flow will be favorable when we get to our spot.  The sun is just poking above the horizon as we power up. I move our boat to a right echelon position from Dennis, just outside his wake,  trim it up for a nice smooth ride, and pour myself a cup of coffee for the half-hour trip. We’re heading to Nomini Cliffs on the Potomac to our North, where we know the best fishing has been lately. This will put us in the lee of the cliffs and make sure we are trolling in smooth water all morning. The girls are upfront, on my center console Grady White, coffees in hand, catching up on the latest in their lives.  Aspen has been with us for the 4th of July holiday from her home in Baltimore, and Courtney had just arrived last night from her home in Philadelphia. It’s been a long time since I’ve had them out on the boat fishing with me, and with this beautiful morning, I consider this trip already successful. “I love this,” I shout over the outboard noise. The girls pause in their conversation, turning to look at me, and smile in concurrence. This trip is already made. 

As soon as lines were in the water, the action was on, with both girls alternatively landing fish. By noon we had limited out in keeper fish with plenty of laughter and memories from the competition with Dennis, the accompanying radio chatter,  large fish lost at the boat,  tangled lines with multiple fish on the take, and a broken trolling rod.