I took to the river this morning and into the early afternoon today in pursuit of Stripers. Its a little early for them to be running the section of the river I was in today but with the above average heat we have been having it seems to have pushed a few up early.
It was still dark when I launched. After I put in I paddled directly to the edge of the river channel which has a very long mud flat attached to it that was holding large numbers of baitfish and a good number of trout as well. There were a few topwater blow ups around me but I couldn't get any takers on the LC Sammy. I finally marked the school on the fish finder and began to follow them as best I could. Topwater action was at a minimum so I switched to my other rod with a 6.5'' Money Minnow in rainbow trout color. I left the flat and the school that didn't seem too active and paddled further up stream to cooler water to find some action. And that I did.
After a couple minutes of blind casting towards the channel swing it sounded like someone threw a car in the river behind me. I burned my lure in (7.1 gear ratio go go!) and did a side saddle shift and casted to the blow up that was still happening. Nothing. Frustrated I sat there and watched my FF for the school. Nothing. Then, there it was. Someone was throwing another car in about 20 yards to my left. I had to make a pinpoint, long cast. I must have hit her right in the head because I hooked up quick and the sleigh ride was on!
She was fighting me hard as expected and then things took a turn for the crazy. I just wish I had a video camera to capture the hilarious action that ensued. I was fighting her and she made a HARD run to a bridge piling then just as fast took a 90 degree turn and went around the other side of the piling. However my momentum was carrying me to the side opposite the Striper. Oh damn.
Let me paint a quick picture for you. These bridge pilings aren't just straight up and down so I couldn't just work around them. They are like an upside down triangle sitting on an oval shaped pillar so that there is room to go under the angled section. Well, she started taking me under the angled section which had all of two feet of clearance the the angle I was going to hit it. Not good. So, being the skilled ninja that I am, I firmly planted my foot on the bridge piling and loosened my drag to nearly nothing. Just enough to keep the line taught. While holding my position with my foot and my rod with my right hand and arm pit I had to turn to my left and pull my other two rods out of their holders and lay them flat in the boat so I didn't snap them. SHEW! This is a workout! I'm also surprised my line didn't break rubbing on the concrete.
After succesfully bashing into the piling a few times I was able to push off and get to open water. I'm sure the guy on the pier was laughing his but off at this point.
She made a few more hard runs and by the time I got to see her we were about 20 feet from the boat ramp (50-60 yard sleigh ride). I snapped a quick (and terrible) picture of her boatside and beached the kayak to get a weight because there was no way I could get an accurate reading sitting down. As soon as I put my hand on her jaw, the swimbait fell out. WOW! How lucky is that? All that commotion and she was barely hooked.
Not a monster by most standards but to me she was a gorgeous, plump girl at 28 pounds even. I waded out waist deep to hold her and let her get her bearings back. I swayed her back and forth and very quickly she was ready to go. She nearly drown me swimming off! What a fantastic fish and a memorable fight she put up! She beat my old PB by 11 pounds!
Action slowed down considerably for the next few hours and when I was about to give up on finding the school again...I found them. Using the same trout colored Money Minnow I made a looooong cast to bring it back through the school. Well, apparently the school was bigger than I thought as I hooked up way before I expected to. After a couple rise and drops of the swimbait it felt like someone took a shotgun to the end of my line. Swing for the fences! Boom, fish on!
This fight was much less eventful due to the fact that I was in open water, but still fun as ever! She drug me right by a boat drifting live shad and they wouldn't even look at me, haha! I got her to the boat after a good fight and weighed her (much better picture on this one) at just shy of 21 pounds. Shew!
After this fish swam off I was exhausted. I paddled an unknown amount of miles tracking this school and it was already 80 degrees (at 2pm). I was satisfied with my day and decided to call it. So, I let the wind push my back to the ramp and just leaned back and soaked up some sun.
Only two fish but, in my oppinion, a hell of a day. I found where the fish will be very, VERY soon and broke my personal record. Enough talking, here's the two pictures I got.
28 pound sea beast
21 pound fatty. The picture does no justice to the absolute girth of this girl's belly. When I held her up in both hands her gut was the size of at least a football. She had definitely been gorging on shad and trout.