As we wind down the last days of September, you’ll hear and read a lot about the beauty of fall in New England, and it’s all true. The changing leaves paint a stunning landscape, albeit for a short period of time, from Maine to Rhode Island.
There are those few nights in October, those sit-by-the-fire-in-a-sweatshirt nights, where the stars seem so bright that it’s as if there’s a blanket of darkness covering another one of infinite light, and the blanket is full of tiny holes.
But coastal anglers have a bit of a different relationship with October: They see it as the month when the fall run of striped bass shifts into full gear.
Don’t get me wrong, there’ll be fish starting to move in late September, especially up in Maine, and there’ll still be migratory fish headed south in November, but for all intents and purposes… October’s THE month.
Northeast anglers will debate whether the fall run has diminished in recent decades, and there’s sufficient evidence to suggest that it’s not what it used to be. Many will tell you that the months of May and June provide better fishing these days, and that’s likely the case.
But in the fall, and in October especially: There’s an urgency that’s not there in the spring. There’s the “Let’s do this while we still can” sentiment that’s driven home every morning with the dropping temperatures.
Every breath of crisp, tingling autumn air that you inhale reminds you that the days are winding down.
In May and June, you might walk to the water with a kind of carefree optimism about the season ahead.
But in October, you’re just grateful to be out there, seeing the sun pull itself from the ocean one more time, launching one more bucktail into the surf. Like most of the important and beautiful parts of life, it’s perfectly bittersweet.