More Winter Stripers

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Winter Stripers fight hard and are a great excuse to get out and brave the cold.

So I got out for only my second trip of the year yesterday and the bite was really hot again. I found striped bass in 15′ – 18′ feeding heavily. I went out in the kayak and targeted structure with jigs and spoons.

Needles to say, the sonar was very important yesterday as it was a bluebird, high-pressure day. All my fish were caught just off points and yesterday they were crushing the lures. I didn’t go out in the morning, it was in the 20’s and there was a north wind forecast. But I saw that the wind was supposed to switch over to an easterly around lunchtime so I couldn’t resist the trip.

I went one other time this year and found fish in the same depths, but on a totally different type of structure. That particular day the fish were barely hitting the lures, and every time I fought one to the surface it only had a single hook in it’s mouth. I hadn’t taken a net and lost several really nice ones trying to get the fish grippers in their mouths. I’d grown tired of dealing with a net in the yak, fighting with getting lures out of snags and had really gotten comfortable using the grippers, but that’s no good when they aren’t crushing the lures. And thrusting your hand into the mouth of a thrashing striper with treble hooks exposed is not something anyone with any experience with this species will do more than once.

So I brought a net yesterday and didn’t lose a single fish. Lesson learned.

I landed 7 stripers over 20″, and the best fish was a thick 25″ specimen that probably weighed between 6 and 7 pounds. It had broken lines on both sides and had gorgeous colors. I didn’t target or catch any other species, but there were some smaller fish I didn’t take pics of.

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As you can tell by the surface of the water it was fairly calm, which is the ideal condition for wintertime fishing. Whether you are using live bait and fishing vertical or using artificials; like jigs and spoons, windless days are the best. This allows you to stay on top of good marks, trees and contours around points pretty easily.

The color of the lure didn’t matter yesterday, but they did want small baits (standard for winter, go small!!). And presentation had to be perfect. If I hadn’t had the sonar on all day I wouldn’t have caught a single fish. They were really holding tight to structure and dead on the bottom. The marks were like bumps on the bottom of the lake, but they were there.

Here are the rest of the pics.

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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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