Trick or Treat

Which means that kids are well aware that Halloween is coming up. My kids are at the age where they aren’t as interested in the candy as they are in the festivities and that got me thinking: isn’t Halloween a lot like Fall fishing?

Take migratory saltwater fish for example. They have been responding to the cooling air and water temperatures for some time now. Most of the baitfish that they feed on have moved inshore, and on some days when you go down to the water’s edge you’ll find schools, enormous schools, of fish crashing at the surface. These fish are excited and hungry, and they seldom miss an opportunity for a free meal. Nearly every cast results in a hook up, and it’s a treat for sure.

Go down to the same area a few days later, and even pick the same tides. Time marches on, and in the fall, so do these fish. The beach or rip or jetty that was on fire just a day or two ago is suddenly quiet. The fish have moved. The treat seems like a trick, and maybe it is; the lights are on but nobody is home.

After kids get tricked they move on to another house, and another one after that. As time goes on they find more candy for their bags, and sometimes they hit the jackpot. It’s like that with fishing, too. Wait a day or two and go back to the spot that was devoid of life and you’ll find it loaded back up. Baitfish spraying out of the water, fish are all over the place, and life is the way it should be. The pattern plays itself out over the next few weeks until one day it is over. You’ll go down to the water’s edge and there will be nothing. Just like that magic time on Halloween night when the homes turn off their lights and go to bed.

The fish, like Halloween, will be back again next year. The houses that gave no candy are just as important as the houses that gave a lot. It’s like fishing. One day we catch ‘em up and the next day we draw a blank. And I think that those days where we go fishless prepare us for something far greater; they prepare us for enjoying and celebrating those days when we do. Without the rain we never truly appreciate the sun, and without the cold we never truly appreciate the warm.

Happy Halloween, and good fishing!

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Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at