Fishing at the mouth of the Merrimack

As I noted in a previous post, I’ve been spending a lot of weekends attending weddings this year, which means I’ve been spending a lot of time in dresses, makeup and high heels that have blistered my feet to no end.

So when my friend Phil emailed me early last week to ask if I’d like to get in on his fishing trip, I responded: “Heck yeah, I do.” I had only ever been fishing in a small pond near my parents’ house and from a pier in the Indian River in Florida – all of this at least 18 years ago. It was Shark Week, and I jumped at the chance to catch something at sea and eat it the same day. Plus, I didn’t have to shower beforehand.

Phil’s coworker had chartered a boat with Rings Island Charters of Salisbury/Newburyport (all told, it was about $125 per person for a half-day trip including bait and equipment), and we met our captain, Gary Morin, at a marina off Bridge Street. Gary was great. Funny, informative, instructive, and patient with my complete lack of fishing knowledge and my tendency to be in his way.

Phil, Wayne and Brian’s elbow. It was really perfect weather. Overcast but not rainy, and not too cold.

I was the first of our group to get a fish on the line, so I attempted to reel it in and it immediately became apparent that I didn’t know how to do anything on a fishing boat. My would-be catch got away, but it was OK – it was early yet, and I’ve heard somewhere that there are plenty of ’em in the sea.

Capt. Gary Morin

It wasn’t in the cards for any of us. As we moved from place to place, we had a few close calls but only one too-small striper that we released. It was a little frustrating, but we all had a blast. On Gary’s recommendation, we stopped by the All-American Tavern on our way home for lunch. All of us got seafood (and it was very good) and I’d say we’d all make the same kind of trip again.

I don’t have any basis for comparison, though we did see other, larger fishing boats on the water and I can’t imagine you’d get as informative or personalized a trip on one of those. Gary answered everyone’s questions, kept us moving throughout the harbor in search of bluefish and striped bass, educated us about the season, the water, the land around Plum Island, his preferred practices and the fish themselves. It was much more than I expected to learn, and, for not catching anything, much more fun than I expected to have.

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