Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I just love low tide

Fishing has been nothing short of spectacular this year, and low tide has consistently been the best time. Since low tide was 6:45 tonight, I left a little early with complete confidence that it would be excellent and I was not disappointed. When I arrived at the shoal there was one other boat, a Parker, there. It looked to be a group of mid 20's guys that instantly reminded me of the early days of topwater fishing with James and the boys. They were positioned a little too north of the rip to do much, but it was cool to see a bunch of plugs skipping accross the water. I anchored slightly east of the rip and went to work. On literally my first cast I picked up the biggest fish of the night, a very fat 26. I actually pulled down the net for that one.. From that point on it was non stop action. I lost count, but what I found interesting is that every single fish was around 24 inches. The other Parker slid back a bit and immediately started slaying them. They were having a blast, which is what topwater fishing is all about. It is so cool to see and hear about people having success with topwater all over the bay. My buddy Mike picked up a 30 one morning this week in 20 feet of water. If it keeps up like this, the planer board crew may have to start running light tackle party boats. How cool would that be. I dropped by Marty's to replenish my supply of Popa's and he told me that they sold over 100 last week. It was not even 10 years ago that talk of topwater fishing on the bay was a rarity.

People always ask me about the risk of "spot burn" by writing this blog. Yes, there are more boats on or near the rock piles this year, but I personally enjoy watching other peoples blow ups as much as my own, so it really does not bother me. What bothers me is when others just rush in with no regard for how or where they anchor. Late in the night, a yellow center console came barreling over from the eastern shore to check out the action. What some people do not understand is that at low tide the water is only 3 feet deep and engine noise can easily shut down the bite. These guys tried to literally jump into the fray between the young guys and myself, leaving maybe 20 yards between the boats. Of course they had their engine running the whole time. I don't care if the whole world wants to fish the shoal, just use common sense. It's a big area. There are literally hundreds of rock piles out there. Do I have my "spot", yes, but can certainly make do when others beat me to it. I just ask, that if you fish that "spot" because you read my blog or another reader told you about it, be cool and move about as quietly as possible...end of rant.
First of many tonight. A fat 26
Rainbow from last nights storm

Monday, June 20, 2016

Strawberry Moon

It has not happened since 1967 and will not happen again until 2062. A Strawberry Moon occurring on the same day as the summer solstice. This was according to the Article I read after work tonight. So despite 12-15 MPH winds, I was excited to get out there tonight. Summer would officially start at 6:45 tonight and I would get to experience this astrological event and have a shot at trophy sized fish in I left the dock at around 7 and found a bay that was quite choppy and downright uninviting. It took me 3 attempts to get the boat anchored in such a way that I could cast with the wind and what I hoped would be a tide swing at some point in the evening. The wind was blowing hard enough that I was clearly positioned as if the tide was still coming in. High tide was 5:54, so I figured that within a hour the tide would change and I wanted to be positioned behind the rip should the boat fail to swing. After last nights delayed change I wanted be set up so that I would be casting with the wind and pulling Popa back through the rip. By the time I felt good about my setup, it was almost 8 pm. It was still quite choppy and breezy, but the fish started blowing up almost immediately. I picked up a quick 5 or 6 undersized fish exactly where I would expect them to be if the tide was coming in. It was not until around 8:30 that it became clear that the tide was actually going out and the fish were behind me. As soon as I found them things got crazy. The fish were off my port side and I was casting parrelel to the wind towards the eastern shore. Nearly every cast was met by a good sized fish. I boated several 20's and then had what felt like a big fish break me off by darting under the boat. That should not happen. I have literally fished the same leader, line, and Popa Dog since the season began, so it is time to retool my equipment. I have missed 3 fish in the last two nights that were probably north of 30 inches because my line broke. That is just plain stupid on my part. It has been a long time since I have boated a fish that big and there is no excuse not to be ready. It will not happen again. It was hard to get mad as I watched both a beautiful sunset and an equally beautiful moon rise. I took these 2 within seconds of each other. If I make it to age 101, I promise to be fishing, so I can experience it one more time. .
Strawberry Moon
Sun sets on the first day of summer 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Best Fathers Day EVER

Everything about this years fathers day was perfect. The temp was close to 90, but seemed like a perfect 75, since the humidity was so low and a nice southerly made it feel like a day at the beach without leaving home. I was looking forward to a Golden State win tonight, so had not planned on fishing, but when Katie called to see if I wanted to go tonight, basketball took a backseat. Low tide was 5:10 Pm, so I figured our 7:00 departure would be perfect. Alas, when we anchored it was dead slack tide. There was still a lot of boat traffic, so the boat was swinging with the wakes. The boat settled in as if the tide was still coming in. Danny was Fly fishing off the bow and crushing the smaller fish, while Katie and I had yet to get the Skunk off. All of Danny's fish were coming from exactly where I expected, had the tide turned. So when the boat finally swung around, the smirk quickly came off of his face as every cast of ours was met by a huge slam. I had a huge fish break me off and as I was re-tying, I  heard the biggest slam of my life, as Katie was hit by a huge fish. The fish jumped, so we all knew it was a trophy, especially when line started to peel off her reel at a rapid pace. It took a while, but she finally brought the fish to the boat and screamed "get the net". As we brought her aboard, I thought Katie was going to collapse. She was sweating, but clearly pumped by what was the biggest topwater fish of her life. A quick measure and it was confirmed. Her first 30 inch fish. NICE. I could not ask for a better Fathers day present than being there to watch the whole thing. Way to go Katie.

Yesterday, my boy Danny, also had a big day. They had run a 5K and he had come in 3rd out of 80 runners. Unfortunately it was a 29 and under division, and a running club of young runners had surprised everyone and taken the rest of the podium. What should have been a great feat, was replaced by the attached picture that will live in infamy. So when Danny landed one of his biggest Stripers ever on a fly, he was one again overshadowed . So I could not resist recreating the podium scene from the day before. Now is Lebron would just lose, this day will be tough to top.
Her first 30

Poor Danny 1

Poor Danny 2

Danny with a keeper on Fly or Poor Danny 3
Poor Danny 4

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

1950's Redux

My wife and I attended "Bands in the Sand" fundraiser for the CBF. The president spoke for a few minutes to thank everyone for coming and then discussed the results of the efforts of the past few years and how it is finally paying off. Anyone who has been out on a boat this year this year, has been amazed by the clarity of the water. I have no clue what we have to thank for this incredible turn of events, but it sure is great. I can actually see the rocks at the shoal, even at high tide. Every morning I wake up the all kinds of waterman working the waters in front of our home. There are actually "tongers" working several different oyster bars and "trot liners" galore. It feels like you have gone back in time.

I have had the sense all year that fishing was better than ever, but it was hard to confirm. After 18 straight days of rain, we have had to deal with 10-20 knots of wind nearly every night. The guides were telling me that they have never seen so many fish on the western shore as this year. Guys in their 40's were telling me that this was as good as they have ever experienced. Hell, even Capt. Karl posted a few videos, on his personal Facebook page, of several "over 35" fish he landed while just messing around with light tackle. I did have a few good nights by my standards, but nothing like that. He told me he has run into several trophy sized schools slamming baitfish on the surface and picking up 40 inch fish on plugs.

Well that all changed the last 2 nights. I can now say with certainty that fishing is very very good right now. Monday night was a near perfect topwater night. It was chilly enough that I wore my cool weather gear, an old pair of UA sweats and a sweet pullover my daughter Liz gave me for my b-day. It was breezy when I left the dock, but as the sun began to set, it became dead calm. Low tide was 6:30 and I was surprised when the boat began to swing not long after 7. With the tide shift came the slams. It was non stop action until I pulled anchor after 9. The biggest was a 26 that tail slapped literally 10 feet from the boat. Dabs was returning from fishing an area near the radio towers and had a similar experience with over 30's in ten feet of water, October fishing in June...SWEET.

I texted Katie and Danny that it would be worth their while to join me last night, so as we headed out into a mirror image of the night before. I was a bit concerned that things would not be active until closer to 8 as a result of the later low tide (now 7:30), but we were not disappointed. We had barely set anchor and the action began. Again, it was non stop until the DNR boarded us as the sun set (A story for another chapter). We did not break the 22 barrier, but lots of spectacular blow ups. Lost our last red and white Popa Dogg, but the "greenback" color filled in beautifully. For now, I am sticking with my theory about the red looking like flared gills. "Best night ever" as Danny likes to say and I concur.
Biggest of the night at 22 inches on a Popa

26 from Monday on Popa

Crushing it with a Zara Spook

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