Winter Stripers

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The water was glassy and I had winter stripers on my mind.

I got to the last day of January and realized I hadn’t been on the water yet in 2017. So I took the second half of the day off and decided to go after fish I knew would be fat and full of fight.

And I wanted to grill some fresh fish.

It was a mid-60’s day with no wind and it had been warm for a few days. Definitely a no-brainer to go kayak fishing.

I started fishing around 3:00 and it wasn’t long before I had my first fish of the year; it fought hard but turned out to be a foul-hooked white catfish; probably three pounds or so. I didn’t take a pic and thought, uh oh.

After jigging a spoon a short time later another fish was on. (feature photo) The fish was barely hooked, but I managed to swing it into the kayak without losing tension. It was just over 20″, and a perfect eating fish. So he went into the cooler. I fished a little while longer without another bite and decided to move around a bit.

After watching the sonar a while, I came over what looked to be a school of crappie. The vertical column of fish, I thought was unmistakable. I back-pedaled to stay right on top of the marks and dropped the spoon. It was struck hard instantly, but the fish broke off after a few seconds. I dropped back down and jigged again awhile without another bite. The fish had been feeding all day I could tell. They were lethargic, but it was mid-afternoon. I figured it would pick back up towards sunset.

After trying a couple other spots and marking very little, I again came over good lines on my unit. I dropped the lure and it was smacked on the drop again. This time the fish held though, and I fought it for close to two or three minutes before it was boat side. I hadn’t brought a net, I rarely do anymore (I prefer the fish grippers) but today, with fish again hitting only one of two treble hooks, I missed it. I lost a nice 24+” class fish within a foot of my arm.

It happens, but I was shaking.

I dropped right back down though and after a few moments I was on again. After another decent fight I had another winter striper at the side of the yak. I swung it in as it looked short, and once measured it was just shy of a keeper at 19″.

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I snapped a pic a tossed this one back in and dropped back down. Again, a fish hit the lure on the drop, but after another lengthy fight, and sighting another 24″ class fish barely hooked, I lost tension at the boat missing with the lip-grippers. It was then I decided to go back to bringing a net. You just don’t reach your hand into a striped bass’s mouth with treble hooks in play. And winter stripers are so full of piss and vinegar they fight as hard in the boat as they do on the line.

I was again shaking but dropped back down regardless. And after another few jigs of the spoon I had another strike.

I knew I had another nice striper on. I fought it just like I had all the others and soon had it too at the side of the kayak. It was a good one and just like the rest, only one of the hooks on one treble hook held it to my line.

But this time the lip-grippers found their mark and I pulled the second keeper in. It was 24″ and close to six pounds after weighing it later.

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Not long after I put that one on ice a stiff south wind hit the lake and vertical fishing was out. I paddled back towards the launch and snapped a close-to-sunset pic before heading out and cleaning fish.

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