Mega-Striper E-mail
Written by Tom Fucini   
Monday, 23 September 2013 12:28

50inch1

Werner Paddles and Hobie Pro Staff member Tom Fucini took his Revolution 13 out near the Connecticut coast at Long Island Sound the second week of September to chase some huge stripers. Here’s Tom’s story of what proved to be an epic day on the water.

As I was wheeled my kayak down to the water, the sun was setting and the wind was blowing stiffly out of the southwest. It didn't really occur to me how rough it was until I got out of cover and on my way to the rip line. Consistent 2-3 foot swells out of the southwest and a cross chop cutting across, not to mention the occasional 4+ foot roller periodically, made for a bumpy and wet ride. After my first few drifts I became very comfortable. It’s not like I hadn't been in these conditions before, and it was forecasted to lie down just after sunset. My fishing buddy decided the conditions were too much for him in the dark, and he ultimately headed back in. After he left, I hooked into a hard fighting 43" bass. It is always fun to fight a good fish in choppy water, as it keeps you more on edge and you have to play the fish more than the typical, "letting the fish tow you around". As I caught my next 2 smaller fish, the wind laid down and the chop was gone except for the still nasty rip line. I was quite pleased about this, knowing the rip was to die as the current began to slow.

Unfortunately, I spoke too soon and got my hopes up. The wind kicked back up and became stronger than it was earlier. The seas built up once again and the conditions started to become marginal to even myself. With the weather becoming rougher, I decided that I was going to finish up this drift over these numbers, then make one final drift on another waypoint and then head back in. As soon as my eel gets over the rock on my second to last drift, I felt a light tap followed by heavy dead weight. Once the fish felt the weight of the kayak drifting, it gave a few large head shakes followed by a very long and hard run. Luckily for me, the fish went the opposite direction of the rip line. I started to think the fish wasn't THAT big as I'm reeling up on it quite easily. I glanced over at my fish finder and notice I was moving at over 3 MPH going against the current. I positioned myself directly over the fish playing a short tug of war, when it finally came up to the surface. I saw a tail slap and then the fish darted off in the other direction towards the rip line. All I thought was, "damn this is a big fish!" I have caught numerous bass in the 45" - 51" range, with a hand full of them 48" or greater and I had never seen a tail this massive.

The fish towed me right through the rip line. I pedaled full charge to blast through the waves while I reeled in line as quickly as possible to keep tension on the fish. As I hit the rip line it was like hitting a wall of water. It blasted over my bow and the spray caught me in the face. Once we cleared the rip, it was another vertical tug of war. Finally, the fish gave up and I attempted to get my fish grip on its lip, but the fish’s lip is too thick for the grip to clamp. I had recently started using 9/0 circle hooks for live eels and that wouldn't have wrapped its lip, as the gap was too narrow. Luckily for me, the fish was hooked towards the corner of the fish’s mouth.

I attempted to pull the fish into the kayak, but it was just too rough to get a fish that size into the kayak. I pedaled back up through the rip towing the fish in hand catching a few of the waves. Knowing there is a sand bar nearby, I pedaled over and beached my kayak to land the fish and take some pictures. I laid the fish flat on the sand. It passed the end of my 48" sticker on my paddle and goes to the 50" mark I had made with a marker on the paddle blade. I did a quick girth check with a soft tape measure and it was 27.75". I walked the fish out past the breaking waves into almost waist deep water to fully revive and release the fish. I was amazed at how much life the fish had in it still, which was probably due to my pedaling slowly up current with the fish in the water keeping it oxygenated. After a few minutes of holding it by the tail, the fish swam off quickly and strong. The IGFA equation puts the fish at just over 48 pounds. It’s always exciting to add another 50" Striped Bass to the list of accomplishments!

Tom Fucini is a member of the Werner Paddles Pro Staff, as well as a member of the Hobie Fishing Team. He lives in Connecticut on Long Island Sound.

 

 

 

 

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