Sometimes you go into a situation with ill confidence, and go through the motions, just because. That is precisely how this day started. Little did I know but, this would be one of the best days the best day of surf fishing that I have ever experienced. Should I have said spoiler alert?
I picked my friend up around two pm in a seedier section of Boston and boarded interstate 93 headed for Cape Cod. Driving down we noticed the tops of the trees swaying in the wind, eh not an indication of an easy fishing environment. The wind was out of the North East and there is saying, “North East they bite the least”. The negativity was stacking quickly, but we didn’t care, time on the beach would have been ok even if the fishing would probably be of the suck variety.
Fast forward an hour and 15 minutes and we found ourselves in the sandy parking lot of an unknown, known beach, that I don’t plan on disclosing. I took my time rigging up my 10 ½ foot surf rod, with a fluorocarbon (clear plastic) leader.
I spoke with a passer by or fisherman, not sure which, about the conditions and if there were fish around. “They’re killing them out there, bluefish” was the response I got. So for all my negativity and bad tude there was actually something happening, didn’t see that coming.
Jumping into my waders and doing a sort of run-waddle that only can be done when you wear waders and big clunky wading boots I went down to the beach. There were bluefish piled up next to fisherman and out of the 30 people on the beach three quarters had a bent pole reeling in a bruiser bluefish. Lures were being swatted out of the air by ravenous fish on every cast.
I approached a rather serious dude who was in between casts and nonchalantly asked him if the fish were biting. To which he barked, in some foreign accent, that I should look at his bloody mess of fish and not bother him with such asinine questions. I was like relax buddy, it’s a joke, I can see everyone catching fish, what am I an idiot? Don’t answer that.
I set up shop and casted my hard plastic lure into the ocean and was met by a head on wind that pushed the plug back at me, yet I still managed a half decent 60 yard-ish offering. As soon as it hit the water I was slammed by multiple fish -yahooo! Then, slack. The fish apparently bit right through my line and I was left with a clean cut and no lure. I quickly re-tied with a steel line and it was game on.
For the next four hours I reeled in somewhere between 40 and 50 fish in the 27”-36” range. Almost every cast my lure would hit the water and be blasted into the air by a bloodthirsty yellow eyed demon of a bluefish.
Some of the highlights and lowlights……
After I kept 3 or 4 fish I decided I had enough for the table and released the rest that I caught. At one point I turned around while releasing a fish and saw a middle aged woman watching with a big smile on her face asking me what kind of fish it was. We got to talking, I explained they were bluefish and there had been a blitz for hours. I asked if she wanted to catch one to which I got a resounding “S&*T YES!”.
She wanted to cast it out herself, but to the uninitiated, tossing a surf fishing rod is not an easy task. It was a futile effort and we both realized it wasn’t happening with her doing the casting. I casted it out, hooked the fish and handed her the flailing, bucking rod. I think she underestimated the power of the fish because when she took hold of it she was practically dragged forward to the water. I helped steady the rod for her and eventually she got the hang of it. A few fish, smiles and photos later she thanked me and had to hit the road.
One of the lowlights of the day was watching my buddy unhook a fish haphazardly and seeing the fish latch on to one of his digits. Put it this way, they don’t call them razor lips for nothin’. He was bleeding profusely, but luckily we had some first aid tape to avoid the scene of Sharknado. I can’t lie that was a highlight as well as a lowlight, I couldn’t stop laughing. Am I an ahole? Possibly – bordering on definitely.
Though my favorite part of the day was when an older gentleman and his wife walked by….. In the ubiquitous Cape Cod aristocrat uniform, of a pastel shirt and khaki pants. Judge not. He was curious as to what we were catching and I asked him if he wanted a fish to take home to eat. He said, “No, no, no I can’t” with a santa claus esque timid laugh. Then I asked if he wanted to try catching one and he said the same thing. And his wife and I gave him the old come on, come, come on. He finally agreed and his wife told us that this was a guy thing and she couldn’t watch.
I skipped letting him cast after what had happened with the last person and hooked the fish for him, handing him the rod but still hung on for fear that he was going to let go and my brand new rod would be lost to the fish gods. He scolded me, telling me that he could handle it and proceeded to reel in the first fish. I went to unhook the fish and told him I would throw it back for him. “You will do nothing of the kind, I am going to KILL it, GUT it, SCALE it and COOK IT!” he said with more confidence than the start. I showed him how to kill it properly so that the meat has less blood in it and even put the fish in a trash bag for him.
At that point the bugs started to swarm and we decided that we would leave them biting. The older guy helped me carry my cooler of fish to my car, and my friend carried his trash bag for him. My car still stinks like fish, that’s a losing battle.
I know this was long winded, and maybe you made it this far and maybe you just scrolled down. Either way you’re here, that’s all that counts!
Bluefish is a strongly flavored fish, no getting around that. It gets a bad rap in my opinion and one of the benefits is that it can handle a sauce. I happen to be in favor of flavor so bring on the bluefish.
The particular recipe was born out of seeing awesome looking chives at the local farm stand and wanting to utilize them in a way that showcases both the fresh fish and amazingly fresh flowered herbs. The tangy lemon and yogurt do well to cut through the oily bluefish. I used chives which work super well with this sauce, but really you could adjust this simple recipe to what you have around. I look at recipes more as guidelines and inspiration rather than hard rules, so mix and match as you please. Let me know what you do and how it turns out!
There really isn’t much to say about this recipe, it couldn’t be simpler or easier to cook this bluefish or to make the yogurt sauce. Or maybe I just rambled so much about fishing I have run out of gas.
- 1 1/2 lbs Bluefish
- 1 Large Lemon Juiced and Zested
- 1/2 Cup Yogurt
- 2 tbs Fresh Chives
- 1/2 tsp honey
- 1-2 Cloves Garlic Minced
- 1 tsp Sambal Sauce For Heat (Optional)
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- Rub the fish with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder
- In a separate bowl combine remaining ingredients together, whisking to incorporate evenly
- Cook fish in a pan of your choice with a tablespoon of oil on medium heat (hopefully cast iron) until almost barely cooked and let finish cooking on a warm plate
- Top with sauce and enjoy!