Changing Plans On The Fly

short striped bass, delaware, sussex county, fly fishing the surf, rockfish, surf rats,
Matt Dammeyer with a short caught on the fly

Sometimes you tie flies late at night for weeks thinking you’re going to go on a particular adventure and then everyone gets scared you’re going to out-fish them and the plans change. Saturday was one of those days.

As it’s not all trout at our house I always have the boot-foots and stripping basket in the truck when I head to the D. Even the most sacred “family weekends” always have a little time set aside for the suds. I swapped out the bass line for a sinking/head operation in my parent’s kitchen over coffee Saturday morning under the raised eyebrow of Mom as I peeled line off my reel onto her clean kitchen floor. We picked up my older brother around nine knowing that the early bird always gets the worm and we didn’t stop for donuts. Sacrilege, I know, but we had to get to the beach at some point.

striped bass, tongue in fish, rockfish, fly fishing the beach, delaware, sussex county
Micah Dammeyer posing with his fish

We made it to the beach in good order and I can proudly say that I was the only one who brought a proper hat for the weather. We were just casting away for a while and watching the ospreys over a funky slick spot in the water just past the suds (that’s a hint right there) and we moved in knowing it was just a little different. Sometimes just the little differences in the sand and the water’s surface can be the thing that signals a “good spot”. Ignore the paint on the snow fences because that sand moves around.

clouser fly, delaware, fly fishing the beach, sussex county, striped bass, crab
Crab on a clouser fly

Anyway, the “Old Brother” hooked up a couple fish on jigs and had the gall to insult me by offering me a turn with his spinning rod. I kept casting away and puffing on my cigar knowing that my day would have my moment in the sun. Just as luck would have it I moved down the beach a little further to some even dirtier water and switched to and even uglier Chartreuse Clouser minnow (bright days – bright flies) and eventually I started hooking up…again, and again… I chucked and thought of the tortoise and the hair. Matt didn’t think that was funny.

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rockfish, striped bass, delaware, sussex county, linesider,
Short striped bass that escaped a dolphin you can see the bite marks on its side.

Well that’s not what I wanted to tell you about. I wanted to tell you about the dolphins. I’ve never been one to get excited by dolphins after growing up riding waves and seeing a few friends get taken out by those fish-mammals. Today was different. As we were catching here and there, Flipper and company were rounding up schoolies and crashing on them like a Nat-Geo special. One or two of these tiny whales would herd the fish up in front of us, and four or five would fly out of the water in a line and crash the school. I was in awe.

clouser fly, fly fishing, delaware, sussex county, fly fishing the beach,
Fly shredded by bluefish and lots of striped bass action.

As the dolphins worked the fish they pushed them closer and closer. After a while the dolphins themselves were in casting distance. The bass, while running for their lives, were not too scared to eat. At the end of it all we were catching shorts on every cast! All this while we flung three hundred grain sinking lines over the heads of the photo takers behind us (not all people are intelligent enough to fish and those that aren’t don’t know how stay out of the back-cast zone). One fish I landed had a perfect bite impression with two rows of dolphin teeth!

At the end of the day it was a great time with my dad and brother and I’m looking forward to the summer of hitting the sand when I’m not chasing trout. Our success was aided by some of the smartest “fishermen” in the sea. I prefer to think we would have done just fine without their help.

Micah Dammeyer

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