Saturday, October 4, 2014

Hopatcong Hybrid Striper and Walleye Love that Binsky

I had a real good feeling about fishing this morning. Yesterday's sun and warmth carried us towards a morning of certain misery if it weren't for raingear and mild temperatures, fishy weather in any case. Walleye weather for certain. Maybe it just wasn't cold enough. Now it's late afternoon, the sun's out, temperatures are very mild. It was the sort of short lived storm with some intensity--not of much wind, though the front eventually blew through--you would think stirs the fish. And maybe it did, as the event unfolded at the end.

Oliver and I weighted herring between 18 and 28 feet, and live-lined on two other rods, just like Joe and I did last Sunday for the action we enjoyed in little time. Nothing happened. Meanwhile, another boat had arrived from Dows and nothing happened with them either. We motored off.

Confidence remained high. I've almost always done well on the drop-off we anchored the boat above. I checked herring after five minutes to make sure they stayed alive. Oxygen is ample in the 33 foot depths where I placed the baitfish anchored with 3/4 ounce slip sinkers. They were frisky. We cast nightcrawlers among shallow rocks where bass typically prey this time of year in shallows. And if no bass, certainly lots of panfish. Our nightcrawlers got ignored for the most part. A few bluegills, a yellow perch, and a 16 inch pickerel for Oliver on a crawler. I noticed a herring rod tip bounce--bail left open--and saw line peeling off the spool. Oliver caught a small hybrid striped bass.

That was the only hit on this drop. I placed the bait in many directions. We moved and anchored further along. Hybrids can school very specifically. I saw this happen in 2012 when Marty Roberts seemed to literally have a school right under his boat. You would think such a school would move along, but Marty had nonstop action for at least three hours in the same place.

Arrival at another drop-off meant use of my electric motor on windless calm surface. I put herring down and we live-lined besides, both of us also casting Binsky bladebaits, working the drop with our legal limit of lines out. Not much later than we had arrived--the guys in Laurie's boat were still there, patient fishermen, they--I hooked up and caught a small walleye on the Binsky. This one striking in about 35 feet of water, I knew exactly how to proceed at catching more walleye and felt that maybe, at last, we would experience at least some telling consistency of action appropriate to the weather we soaked up.

Water got in at our midriffs and clothes leeched it upwards.

This drop-off had more than another hundred yards to go. Since I love fishing that Binsky, banged up from hitting rocks on bottom. I stood with expectation glowing as I almost disdainfully tended herring. I was primed. And then I sat on my prize Penn 430 SS. It was loaded with essential PowerPro Braid. This reel has a graphite casing that used to be whole. The old metal Penn 716 wouldn't have been damaged at all.

"Oliver!" I said. "I know why I write! To buy new reels when I sit on the ones I have."

I asked him if he knows any industrial strength cement; something that will hold up against a big fish. He suggested J.B. Weld and I will try it or other.

I reached into my tackle tote for my Cardinal, also loaded with PowerPro. I find PowerPro essential to feel that bladebait quiver and to notice the tap of a walleye, should it not strike hard. I should have thought of Oliver in the first place and dug that reel out for him to use. Then events would have unfolded differently.

But the reel wasn't in the tote. I thought I had put it there last Sunday and not taken it out. My backup.

OK. So. I would fish on mono. We still had lots of walleye opportunity. I began to prepare when a tremendous wind blew from the opposite direction of the earlier southeast breeze. Before I could get the herring lines in and the motor started, we were almost on the rocks. We faced into small whitecaps and motored across the lake to a point out of the wind.

Some round of assault, assuming it would have at least been different regarding my reel, had I just thought of Oliver needing braid.

It took us awhile after docking to leave Dows. And meanwhile, in came the mysterious crew of three most patient fishermen, who had apparently stayed in one place for almost seven hours, most of that time in heavy rain. The rain had stopped; signs of clearing became evident. They docked and got out.

"How did you do?" You know I hid dread behind that question.

"Real well. Seven hybrids." And the man explained that all were caught in the last hour on chicken livers set 22 feet down on slip bobbers, the largest 20 inches.

"You guys have incredible patience staying in one place," I said.

"We moved about in the general area. They weren't hitting in the morning at all, but then we set 30 feet deep."

So which was it, depth and specific location, or did the bass feed after the front passed through?

Whatever. I would have liked to have fished that whole line of drop-off with my Binsky. And have been prepared to let Oliver do the same properly. But we had a great time and there's more to learn yet. More fish to catch too.

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