My late beloved wife was quite the outdoorsperson. She grew up fishing with her daddy mostly on lakes in upper New York state. We didn’t go fishing together nearly as often as I went fishing on my own but when she did go she usually outfished me. I almost always asked her if she wanted go because if she agreed the outlook for fishing success was going to greatly increase.
She had the weather eye. She had an uncanny ability of always picking good days. Another person I knew who really had the weather eye was the late Charlie Long, deckhand on the Boat Holiday and later the captain of the Vagabond. When I worked with Charlie often he would gaze at the sky in the afternoon and say something to the effect they are really going to bite tomorrow. He seemed to always be right. Charlie had the weather eye.
Some friends and I talked about this as we left the dock in Long Beach on the Boat Toronado for a day’s fishing at San Clemente Island with 17 fishermen. The previous week had been blown out and little information was to be had about the sort of day we could expect. What we did have was a good weather report. However, the storm had erased most of the spring surface warming we had gained to date. Our spirits were buoyed by the improving weather, a light load, and we held few expectations about what the day would bring. Additionally, the boat crew was well rested and chomping at the bit to make a great day for everybody on board. My wife would have considered this as perfect conditions. It’s also the sure way to never hear “You should have been here yesterday!”
Well rack up another unforgettable fishing trip! The fishing was off the hook! Big fish had moved up on the popular banks in numbers only partly predictable from the recent reduced fishing effort. We filled our sacks with tasty rockfish, sheephead, and an occasional lingcod. The jackpot fish was about a 15lb sheephead. It had been several years since I had fished the west end of San Clemente and it was really nice seeing the big sheephead coming back in large numbers. I had not experienced this quality of sheephead fishing at San Clemente since the 1970’s.
Captain Ray and the crew worked hard and enthusiastically putting us on the fish, gaffing and unhooking fish, helping with tangles, running the galley, and at the end of the day the crew provided fish cleaning and filleting. Everybody got off the boat with a smile and plenty of fish too boot.
Most of us are trained to watch the fish counts. Watching the fish counts and fishing intel are tools that are especially well suited for optimizing your chances of catching a particular variety of fish. Experienced fishermen know there are many other tools to use. Developing the weather eye is one such tool that is more than about weather and encompasses gaining a feel for the local ocean environment. Using a weather eye is also more about leading and self confidence as opposed to a more passive following resulting often in unrealized expectations.
Here at Philip Friedman Outdoors our mission is to go beyond just fish reports and fishing intel. We will have fish reports and intel but we will also bring forth a continual stream of experts to reveal information on how to gear up, how to read the environment, and how to develop strategies to improve your opportunities.
However, we can’t teach you the great joy of just getting outdoors, going fishing, going hunting, going whale watching and how doing it when others are not doing it makes for the greatest satisfaction of all. That’s something everybody has to experience for themselves. Just do it!
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