Shipwreck's Big Striper E-mail
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 07:24

Shipwreck with big striper

You gotta have goals. Goals are what create drive, which motivates you, which makes you reach. And plan. Someone once said a sure way to make The Almighty get a good chuckle is to tell him your plans.

Yet we must. So we do and they often fail. Too windy at J-Bay, broken or forgotten equipment, and fish totally tight lipped cause the moon is in the seventh house and Mercury feels like its in Uranus. Familiar tune. As anglers we are used to it.

On my lap

My goals are my own and I wont bother you folks with them. Some are lofty, some mundane. Suffice it say a fifty pound bass on a yak or beach, and the other regular angler goals are all there. However, one goal me and Ben discuss often is intercepting larger fish along the migratory route and using big fish specific tactics to get them using surf or yak. Montauk, The Ditch, Block, The Cape and CBBT area are all notable GPS stops and this is what led me to the DelMarVa peninsula.

So I looked at my goals, made a plan, forsaked food, sleep, and time and executed the plan. As FishTank is fond of saying “luck is where persistence meets opportunity” This is the story of it all coming together.

Friday morning found me tying rigs at work, it was dead being Black Friday. At lunch I jammed home and loaded up the car. My plan was to keep it simple and specific. Live eels, one other rod in case they were out of eels or a blitz popped up. The boss let us out at 2:30 so I went home and slept for 45 mins before we started doing kid stuff. Went to dinner and did not get home till 9pm.

I was planning on leaving at Midnight. The coffee maker went off as I lay staring at the ceiling wide awake. I hoped in the car, thanked the stars for the Grateful Dead channel and started the 5.5 hour drive down to VA. I got there at 5:15 and spent less than $25 in gas!! I slept for 45 minutes, woke up and went into Chris’ Bait and Tackle.

They are a nice shop and got me rigged up with a license and 6 Eeeeels. 5 Minutes later I was staring at a gunmetal grey sky, water and concrete ships. There were stink boats everywhere. There was a long line waiting to launch, but you can launch the yaks off the side out of the way. No waves, no traffic. Totally friendly.

The wind was howling and I had no idea where to go, what the structure was and where to start. I am not big on asking what to do preferring to figure out myself. It was cold around 41 degrees. I pulled the yak down noticing the puddle of blood in the spot adjacent to me. Good sign. I was running simple and was set up and dressed in the drysuit in under 2o minutes.

Started talking with another area virgin, and I helped him launch. His name was John and turned out to be a good guy. He is from down there and said everyone on the yak just go to the ships. I heard this place was simple, but could it be that easy?

Of course not. I pushed off at 7:15 am. The first thing I noticed was that the water cooks in there. It really moves and you have to be concentrating the entire time. Its the key to the area as I was to later figure out. I started marking big fish instantly as I made my way to the ships. The tide was flowing strong and I really was tense waiting any moment for the fun and games to begin. 5 hours later my extremities were in agony and not one person on any boat had a single tap. Not one. I spent the time scanning the bottom and the ships. Going over as much as i could, determining bottom structure, composition, baby sitting eels and trying to warm my fingers and toes.

I was really bummed. I saw fish on the finder everywhere, so did everyone else. I even started jigging for them to no avail. I bumped into John, was talking about going in and I started fantasizing about my Jet Boil and steaming coffee. I fished until 11am and started to put together a pattern. I started to look at the areas characteristics and how the water moved, how it related to the ships. But I was cold and seriously thinking about bagging the afternoon and chalking it up to another plan gone awry. Plus, I was happy just getting out and checking out a new spot.

I got in and made some java, gave some to John and started thinking. The area actually had some things about it that I was familiar with. So I started thinking about my angling strengths. Instead of focus on what I was unfamiliar with, I thought about what I was comfortable with. I talked with some locals and someone mentioned a stage of tide and how it was key to big fish here. That was all I needed, it clicked. I had the outline of a plan. I decided to go back out.

I headed out and wanted to hit the only logical area my plan allowed. I got out there, poked around a bit and started to do some drifts. I know Hobies get bashed but the ability for me to hold in that ripping environment let me get the eels down without huge weight and let it hang in the strike zone longer. I am 100% confident that the Hobie was essential to my success. I made a pass and got a 1/2 hit, but not a runoff. Not cold anymore however.

I wanted to hit a certain area and started for it. As I got there I saw another guy come around the ships right for the same spot. I could tell instantly this was a sharpie and I suspected it might be the famous Kayak Kevin. Kevin bagged a 49 pound bass the night before and was/is an area legend. I heard his name 100 times this weekend. I watched him rig up and all doubts were erased, this was him and he was the real deal.

I decided instead of charging up to him and pestering him or beating him to the spot I would hang back and watch. Hank tells me I watch other fishermen too much. Maybe so, I can tell you I watched KK. His presentation and boat placement confirmed my plan, I was on to something. I drifted one more time and waited for the spot to open. He drifted out and I made my way to the area. I started the drift and feathering the Mirage drive and cocking the rudder let me slide at a 45 degree angle across the ‘rip’. Still nothing. I was angling past a long line of submerged, barnacle encrusted pilings. As I slid trough 2 poles, I felt a slam on the Lami Yak rod. The clicker on the ABU big game went off, I was holding it even though I could not feel my fingers, good thing. I slipped the clicker off and let it slide, the light weight was key here. Then I engaged the drag, felt it come tight and then felt the 4x Gami Circle slam home with a POP!

I had no idea how big it was. It stayed down and ran in ever widening circles. It was clear pretty quickly though it was a bigger fish. It made a run at a piling and was able to put the brakes on it, but it was pulling my Revo around like a toy. I realized I had to get away from those crusty sharp pilings. I still had no idea how big, but I knew it was not a schoolie. So I tried to peddle away from the pilings. But the wind, the tide and the fish were all against me in a big way.

You ever take a dog for a walk and have you gone one way around a telephone pole and the dog goes the other way? Ever done it running? Well thats what happened. If the Hobie Mirage drive has one drawback; it is that you cannot reverse with it. So, this fish decides it is going for a piling and I have no say in the matter, I am straining on the mirage drive yet she pulls right around the piling and I scream by the other side in the boat. I put some pressure on her hoping she will turn around. Not happening.

The she came up and rolled... Oh My GOD! It looked like a manatee to me. Now I knew I had a big girl on and I wanted her so badly. I have lost some nice fish this year and I was sure this one was gone. I could feel the line strafing the barnacles. She was pulling steady. I had to take the paddle out of the holder. Then I had to slowly slack off her. I had to trick her, she had to think she was free. So slowly I let off and I put the pole between my legs. I start to back paddle against tide and wind. I strain and pray. I still see her and she is slowly swimming down. I am thankful for my continuing paddle work and that I dont just peddle the Hobie. Somehow I got around the piling and was clear!

I slowly came tight. She was still there! Was the hook still set? What was that braid looking like? Was it frayed badly. Am I still gonna lose this beast. I got good and pissed! Screw that. I winched down on the drag and started to horse her in, stepped on the mirage drive and chased her. I had to get her in fast. I caught her in seconds she turned to me and without thinking I reached out and grabbed her mouth and heaved her into my lap. She was HUGE and she was still very green.

And she was not happy to be in my lap. I held on for dear life as she beat the snot out of me, almost flipped the boat, and bit my hand to pieces. I remembered Frank Daignault said you can tell a real striper fishermen cause the TOPS of their hands are scarred, not their thumbs. I looked at my 30lb boga and it looked like a pair of tweezers. No I just had to bulldog her calm. And I did. Something else Mr. Daignault talks about is having a thick rope to secure big fish on the rocks so you dont have to worry about hauling them up. I have a version of that on the boat.

I took one look and knew this was going to be my first harvested striped bass. No doubt about it. The pictures dont do it justice. I really thought I had a 50. It was just so big. So I decided to keep it. So I put the rope through the gill plate and claimed her for Shipwreck. I was shaking. I could not believe I just reached out and grabbed a green slob bass. Time stopped during the fight, but i bet it was under 5 minutes. I just knew it was over if I tried to be cute and easer her in and I could not bear to lose another big fish.

At this point John and Kayak Kevin come over. Let me say Kevin is one class guy. He took the pictures, measured her, and helped me secure her. There is no place on a Revo for a pig bass. If he was not there, I would have had to hop out of the boat and secure her myself. And although he did not know it, the way he fished and the spot he chose gave me the final pieces. It is my sincere desire to fish with him again someday. He is the real thing.

At that point I remembered Geoff Ts story about how he waited to weigh in his fish and it lost weight. I had no idea how big and she was really affecting the handling of the boat. I was pretty amped and was distracted so I decided to call it a day. I wanted to weigh it in. I flew across the bay, I dont think my boat even touched water. Loaded up and was at Chris’s by 2pm.

I had to buy a cooler, cause I dont keep fish and even if I did I dont have anything that would fit this fish. She was weighed in at 40 on the nose. She was 47 inches long and 29 inches in girth. I iced her and drove the 6 hours back.

11 hours of driving, 7 hours of fishing, one and a half bites, one 40lb bass.

But it was so much more than that. It was countless, fishless walks, losing big fish, getting better everyday. And it was not without alot of help. Most of which is given without cost, yet invaluable. The names mentioned here all played a part in getting that fish in the boat. (I think the Fishtank in me was what made me put my hand in her mouth.) I thank them and look forward to the next goal.

I dressed her perfectly and we got tons of clean white fillets. We has some tonight and my first striper was delicious. It was totally worth the miles, the smiles, and all these damn threads. I wont bore you like this again till I get my 50. I will get one more shot this year.

Stay tuned and thanks to those that deserve it.

 

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