Joe from PA
I’ve got one from years ago when I was a kid that I think of often. I used to spend most of my summers “down the shore” at my grandparents place in Cape May, NJ. My grandfather used to drop me off at the coast guard station on the north side of Cape May inlet and I’d hike out to the end of the jetty to fish for blues, weakfish, and the occasional striper. I loved doing that and would spend all day out there alone, several days a week. I had a game where I would try to figure out the most efficient path through the rocks so I wouldn’t waste any time getting out to the end of the jetty and the best fishing spot. There was an older gentleman that I would often see out there who was also very serious about fishing and would carry a large backpack out there that contained bags and boxes of tackle, gear and a gaff. It must have had several hundred dollars of gear in it. We became friends and would help each other gaff fish and he used to give me lures, steel leaders, etc. One day we were fishing the point during an ebb tide just before low tide and I was feeding lots of line off my spool as the tide carried my bucktail out into the rip. At one point I had to take a pee, and not wanting to waste time, I decided to set my rod down against his backpack while the tide carried out my bucktail. No sweat, just let me hop down between the rocks real quick, take a quick wiz, no fishing down time…oh crap!!! It was one of those slow motion life moments…big striper grabs bucktail, line gets caught around the gaff, surf rod catches big air, backpack and gaff with bags and boxes of big bucks stuff goes with it into the wash between the rocks at the water edge…and me scrambling to catch up with my rod as it bounces into the rocks. I managed to grab my rod and he managed to reclaim some of his gear, but the gaff was lost and we had no way to land the fish and it was to be the largest cow I had seen to that point in life. Indeed, before she was lost, I got that fish close enough to visually measure her stripes against the submerged rocks just a few feet below and out of grasp but alas a world away in the wash of the jetty. At the time I was devastated, but looking back, my only regret of loss is that man’s gear.