It's not often that Ryan, Nick, and myself get the opportunity to fish together, so when those stars align we are pumped to say the least.
A couple months ago we decided to fish on Ryan’s boat in Lynnhaven Inlet. It’s winter, and the water temperature is in the low 50’s. The fish are lethargic, but still chewing. I had some luck earlier that week catching Speckled Trout and Red Drum, so I was excited about the prospect of us getting on some fish.
Nick, as always, was fired up.
“I could leave at 1am or 1:30am and get to Ryan’s at 3:30am,” he texted the group the night prior.
Typically, a super early morning strike mission such as this would be the result of a tactical maneuver to maximize a tide swing or wind direction. This time, it was solely to maximize time on the water with friends. Ryan and I agree to the early morning and finalize the plans.
We met at the boat ramp the next morning at 3:45. The air temperature was in the low 50’s with a light breeze out of the south.
After I load my gear onto the boat, Nick and I exchange an enthusiastic high five, and Ryan mutters something that sounded like “herlooo teem.”
At this point in morning we were dealing with the last 3 hours of high tide. We positioned ourselves up on a shallow flat just off of a deep channel hoping to find the fish shallow, and if not, try the deeper channel edge.
After we set the anchor and settled into position, we heard smacks hit the surface of the water followed by the rush of the remaining fleeing baitfish. “Good morning feeeeesh!” Nick gasps.
I grabbed my spinning rod rigged with a Mirrolure MR27 and started casting. As is typical when fishing with these two, I know when we get to the first spot I’ve got 5-10 minutes of hazard free time to make casts without worrying about ducking fly line. Feeling confident about the situation, I anticipated a thump after each pause I made with my Mirrolure. Nothing.
“Tim, no fish yet? What the hell?” says Ryan while threading his fly line through the rod eyelets. “We brought you here to locate the fish man.”
Nick, finally rigged up, steps up to the bow and starts casting his fly. Ryan follows suit in the center of the boat and I continue my assault on the stern.
Like a well oiled machine we peppered spot number one. Each of us threw something slightly different with hopes of developing a pattern.
Unfortunately, the only pattern we developed was no fish. Unable to manufacture a bite, we decide to try a different area.
“It’s never too early for tunes,” says Nick as he propped up the Turtlebox speaker.
Ryan and I look at each other and laugh when the sounds of Country Grammar by Nelly spill out of the speaker at a volume way too loud for 5 am. Nick turned the volume down a tad and we made our way to a new spot.
Guided by the sounds of ole band aid under the eye Nelly, we make it to our second spot right around sunrise. This area has been productive for us over the years so we were ready to get the skunk out of the boat. That skunk however, had different plans and cemented itself in the boat yet again. Ryan even tried calling out the fish every couple casts.
“Alright I’m going to get a fish riiiiight here,” he’d say as he finished his cast. But the fish didn’t listen.
In a trance trying to figure out where to go next and why we weren’t having any luck, I hear what can only be the lyrics of “#1 Stunna” spilling out of the Turtlebox Speaker.
Nick can sense my observation, sees me sway to the beat and confirms my suspicion, “Big Tymers radio dog,” he says grinning like an idiot.
We try our luck at three more spots, all of which yield the same results. At each spot our patience gets shorter, the music gets a tad louder, and our time frame continues to shrink.
“Do you guys want some special beers before we hit the last spot?” Nick asks.
“I don’t know what that means, but I’m in,” says Ryan.
There are multiple theories as to when the appropriate time is to have a beer while fishing. Some will crack a beer almost immediately. Some will wait until the first fish is on the boat, and some will crack a beer with hopes of changing up the mojo and kickstarting a bite. The latter is the mindset that we were going with.
We pull up to a tucked away beach in a cove off the main channel. Ryan and I hop out of the boat to stretch the legs, while Nick unveils a black cooler and starts unloading ingredients. He sets down some Pacificos, limes, Don Chelada Beer Salt, and some Hoff Mean Green Jalapeno hot sauce.
“You had me at beers,” I said to Nick.
Nick cracks the tab on the beer slightly and squeezes lime juice on top of the can, followed by the hot sauce. Then he sprinkles the beer salt around the rim and on top of the other ingredients.
“Alright pop the tab, let everything fall into the can, then take a swig to let everything mix in,” he instructs us.
I am admittedly not a fan of any sort of lime or lime juice in or around my beer, but the deliciousness that unfolded from the mixture of the Pacifico, jalapeno sauce, lime juice, and beer salt was otherworldly.
High fives ensue and Nick mixes up a couple more as we catch up on life over the last few months, Big Tymers radio still kicking on the Turtlebox. Amidst talking and making fun of each other, we realized that we had run out of time to fish. We needed to head back to the boat so Nick could get back to Richmond at a decent hour.
On the way back in we came to the conclusion that it sucked we didn’t catch any fish, but spending time on the water with friends is always worth it. And we probably should’ve turned the music down so we didn’t disturb the fish.
Interested in learning more about those "special beers?" Check out the recipe here!