|35"er from 10 days ago|
I was right. My eels found their way into striper mouths fairly quickly and at a good pace. For rigging info, click here. Both the eel on the free line as well as the one on bottom were getting hits from upper 20 inchers to mid 30 inchers. They were entertaining and all, but when I hooked into one that had very wide headshakes and didn't come up so easily, I got ready for the imminent sleigh ride. About 50 yards later, as I'm trying to grab the leader, my freeline rod that was in the flush-mount behind me gets a zip-zip then starts peeling line out. With leader in hand and mid 40" beast next to my gunwale, thrashing and spraying water all over, I loosened the drag on the other reel. I reached and tried to grab the lower lip 2 or 3 times but then the big striper dug it's head under the surface and followed up with a few strong kicks. I should have let the leader go at that moment but my nerves and anxiety from the other fish still hooked up got the better of me. I tried to force the big one to turn around and popped the 50lb flouro leader right at the hook. I didn't turn into Hurricane Lee, but as you can imagine, there was a string of expletives before grabbing the other rod. It came up pretty quick and measured around 32"-33" like many of the ones earlier. And far, far smaller than the one I just lost.
Good thing was, it was Saturday night, there was plenty of time, and I came to get down. Continuing to find and mark fish on the Humminbird, my bottom rod tip would bounce shortly after my screen lit up. I set the hook, smile, fight, measure, release, repeat. As the current slowed down, my freeline rod with a fairly small eel started zipping out. I slam set the hook and knew immediately, this was a good size fish. While holding on for the impending ride, I reeled in the bottom rod with the other hand. And the ride came. And it was awesome. I took my time, landed it without incident, and stretched it out on my deck. Jeff helped measure it 3 or 4 times just to make sure it was accurate. To my delight, the tip of the tail went a little passed the 50" mark.
|Released. Big photo credit thanks to Jeff Lockhart.|
Afterwards, I got into a few more lower 30" fish before my feet couldn't stand the cold anymore. By the time we got back, my car thermometer read 29 degrees. I ended the night with 25-30 hits, landed 15 fish, had 2 doubles, and a new personal best striper. Poor Jeff had to listen to my clicker all night and unfortunately only had a handful of hits without any hook ups.
We were both in utter disbelief at the contrast in results since we used the same rigs and fished the same area.
As silly as it seems, Slim Jims now keep the notorious banana company on our list of fish retardants.
I hope you all have a great holiday.
Wear your PFD.
Layoff the Slim Jims.
And go catch some big ones!