Can I admit something? Prior to last week I had lost confidence in catching stripers. The last real striper I caught was last April and that was my personal best 24” striper. But after I got skunked a few times and then focused on bass and pan fishing I started dwelling on how difficult it started to seem to catch striper even though I’ve done it so much in the past. Later on my original striper fishing spot closed and that made matters worse. I did end up going striper fishing a few times with my dad but getting skunked or catching shakers didn’t help the matter.
Last week’s realization that my dad’s honey hole had closed almost added insult to injury but then last week’s 16 fish day made things a little better. At the very least it gave me enough confidence to be able to go back out to the same fishing hole and try for a striper again. And that is how it all began.
I picked up Pops and Rigo and we hit the fishing hole on the Sac River. 4:30 in the afternoon we found ourselves settling in the shade and setting up our rods. I had my big river rod baited with anchovies and my smaller ugly stick with a nightcrawler. Since my ugly stick is lighter and has 10 lb test on it, I only use a size 3 weight. This is important because the majority of my bites came on a lighter weight that seems to get swept up more by the current and ends up closer to shore.
By 4:45 Ol pops got into the first striper of the day, about 9 inches. Then I got into the second one, about 7 inches. And so continued the day until I began breaking ahead. Second and third small stripers came on worms on my ugly stick. A while later I was baiting my river rod and my dad yells that my rod is being taken into the water. I look up and if it weren’t for my pole holder my ugly stick would have been long gone. I went over, set my hook and I had a fish on! I reeled in and adjusted my drag because it was super tight, which contributed to almost losing my rod. A few minutes later I pulled in a 16 in. Sacramento Pikeminnow. I was a little bummed because I wanted striper but it was still a fun little fight. Plus that fish made me adjust my drag, once again, this is important.
My dad and Rigo ended up with a couple more shakers a piece, which was great. I’m always happier when my fishing partners are getting into fish as well. A few more fish ended up coming to hand and then I got a big bite. I love when your hook set is met by a large tug in the opposite direction. I ended up reeling in a 14 inch striper which was better but still not I was looking for; nonetheless a step in a positive direction. I got a snag on my river rod and it was getting late so I switched to only one rod.
A bit later I realized we were running out of night crawlers. This is important because I decided to try anchovies on my light line and my drag was loose. I tossed my line in, sat down, looked up, saw my pole almost being taken into the water again but this time, the line began to peel. I picked up the ugly stick, set the hook and then the fish on the line took off upstream making my reel scream. Upon watching this fish surface down river with my heart going a million miles an hour there was an adrenaline filled moment of perfect clarity for me. I was going to stay calm and this fish wasn’t going to get away. I was going to play him and he was going to come to hand. I adjusted my drag and kept cool while the fish peeled line in an upstream direction; my ugly stick doubled over and was tested more than ever in the past. Finally it came closer; pops netted it up and I celebrated! We measured it up and we had a scrappy 22” keeper that brought my confidence level back.
My next cast felt large as well and I envisioned a limit but it was only a 16 incher. My last fish of the day was another little shaker on worms. My dad caught 2, Rigo caught 2 and I had a 15 fish day including a fatty 22 inch striped bass that will be fish tacos by the end of the week! What a huge boost of confidence for me in striper fishing. A 20 fish day = success for my folks, a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon and an outstanding way to kick off my summer fishing experience!
** I must say that my striper count being the second highest total in my fish count brings everything back to normality for me. Also, I’m excited to say that I surpassed the 100 fish mark this year! I’m excited to try for 200!
Total fish: 13 Striper + 2 pikeminnows = 15 fish