Sept. 6, 2012 Striper Hunger a Two-Way Street
Written By: Kathie Morgan, September 7, 2012
If we hadn’t got there when we did, those fish would have died of hunger. David always checks stomach contents when he fillets our catch, and the stripers we caught on our last Napa River trip were empty.
We had headed first to the Pond, but the tide was surging out and taking with it anything edible. Any self-respecting striper would have been outside where the food was, but outside is a big haystack where your striper can hide like the proverbial needle, secure in the knowledge that your chances of finding him are very slim indeed.
We crossed over to the other side. The ponds over there are configured like a series of nested boxes, with the inside ponds pouring into the outer ponds, which in turn drain eventually into the river as the tide ebbs. Actively feeding fish follow the bait as the tide sweeps it along. If you meter bait, chances are you’ll soon be in fish.
That’s how it happened the last week in August. The flag at Schellville stood straight out, giving us the uneasy feeling that maybe we should have gone to the lake. We saw only three trailers in the Cuttings Wharf lot. On the bright side, nobody was likely to be anchored where we wanted to fish.
The chop in the main river was steeper with shorter intervals than I have ever seen. Would we swamp? Would the cell phone work if we did? Who would we call?
There’s a bluff of sorts inside many of the ponds, and we have pulled many a striper from the shallows in front of these bluffs. I cast my orange Storm Shad to the bluff for an almost instant bite. Airborne! David reached for the net, and I checked my drag as the fish headed toward the open river.
I didn’t want to go there and fight the fish and the chop. Twenty-eight inches – what a way to start the day! We worked our way toward the next pond up, and David nailed a nice fish on a chartreuse Rat-L-Trap. Then it was my turn, and I was through for the day. David used my Storm Shad to fill out the limit. The wind at our backs at last, we ran for home. Limits in two hours 15 minutes from launch to take-out.
Two weeks earlier, we had had the luxury of throwing back legal fish so as to keep fishing. We caught them on small red Rat-L-Traps, large green Rat-L-Traps, and a chartreuse Gulp swimbait. Those fish were feeding on crabs, and a number of shorties were mixed in with the legals, one so small I thought I had snagged a bit of moss.
Those fish didn’t need us, as they would not have died of hunger, not with those nice crabs to feed on. As it was, they died for a good cause, so that David and I and the neighborhood did not go hungry that evening.
I’ll be looking for you on the banks.