Day after day, I would go to the river and plug away hoping that some keeper sized fish are still around. I really wanted to catch a keeper fish on a plug and also bring home a fish for the family to enjoy on new year’s. I had 2 days left – it was Dec 13, and the open season was about to close.
The usual spots had the usual bunch who had the place covered with at least 3 rods per angler soaking bunker. There was no space for me to move and cast around, so I said my hellos and then left to cast at other spots.
I went to the other spots and gave it a few good casts. I think I moved at least 3 to 4 spots before finding the fish. Along the way, I met an old lady who told me she had a boat further east and use to fish a lot when she was much younger. She didn’t believe that the black bomber was any good, “use a white one… its better!” But its dark now, the black will be better. She said she is going to go back to her house and if she has her lures at home, instead of the boat, she would give me to use them. So off she went, and off I went to another spot.
BAM! The currents were fast and furious, and pulling my lure very close to the rocks. It would probably snag soon if I didn’t get a big hit from a very hungry bass. The fight was on! I was fighting the fish and the current. But I fought back hard and didn’t give the fish a chance to go close to the rocks to break me off. A few minutes later and a treacherous climb down the rocks, I managed to land the fish. I gripped it on the lips with a boga-type tool and pull it out. Feels like a keeper. It weighted around 12 pounds on the un-certified and most likely unreliable boga-type tool, but it definitely measured 31 inches.
It was definitely delicious!
The first striped bass plug I bought is the black Bomber Saltwater Grade Magnum Long A. It weight 1.5oz and has a nice wobble to it. I think 90% of the bigger striped bass were caught on this single plug. The leftover clams were thrown to the back of the freezer for next season.
The next plug that I bought was the Cotton Cordell Pencil Popper, which surprisingly caught fish for me even though it was late December. I never got the hang of the upright pulling action that John Skinner recommends in his book and video. I just made sure that I reeled in fast enough that no slack line gets into the reel and screws up the next cast.
I had the same setup as described in the previous post. 1 bait and 1 plugging rod. After threading the shrimp on the 8/0 hook, I cast out and begin setting up my other rod for plugging. Its not a special rod, its a Calypso Mako telescoping rod that you can get from Amazon.com or Sports Authority. I received it as a christmas present from wife’s sister a year or so back.
I did not know what retrieve speed or action I should give to the plug as I worked it back. But since I was using 25lb mono and could not feel the plug swimming, I jerked the rod each time I reel in some line. Then I felt a hit, the plug was still a ways out so it could not be striking the rocks. I swung the rod up to set the hook, but again missed the hook set. WHY DOES THIS ALWAYS HAPPEN TO ME!
This hit only made me more focused and as I worked the plug back over the water I was eagerly anticipating another strike from the striper. A few casts in, I felt the hit again and I set the hook hard! I felt the weight of the fish and the fight was on. Afraid to lose the fish with a bad hook set, I set the hook a few more times. A few minutes and the fish was landed.
It struck at the head of the plug and I had a proper hook set in the mouth.
WHOOO! I hooked up two more later on!
With the nights starting to get progressively colder, sitting and waiting for the striped bass to hit my baits became unbearable. So I bought a black bomber to work the water, while my other rod is soaking the bait.
Unfortunately, no hits that night on both the bait and bomber.