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Bought a few new lures yesterday and decided to go out early to bank for whatever was biting. I hoped for stripers but was really just looking for some plugging action and for whatever was willing to hit. Walked to the river around 6.
I'm a topwater noob and have been trying to coax a fish into taking my redhead pencil popper. Cloud cover and a slight breeze seemed to make the situation perfect for trying a couple of casts. I worked a shore line the first two casts and on the third cast, which was up against a man made riprap jetty, my plug got slapped hard. The fish was only about 3 feet away from the shoreline and soon went airborne, revealing that it was a smallie. It was foul hooked on the head and shook off when it landed.
I followed up that blowup by quickly tying on a cotton cordell super spot in craw pattern. Second cast over that spot of the blowup and I feel the bass inhale my lure. Fought for about 2 minutes and the fish went airborne again. Landed her only to see that the treble hook had become lodged deep in it's gill, resulting in a bleeder.
Luckily, I like cooking with fish and already had planned on a striper meal for dinner, so I measured her up to legal size and ran her back to the house to put on ice.
Ran back to the river and proceeded to cast along the shoreline again. Saw and heard a big hog striper making that "slurp" and "smack" sound as it chased forage a bit out of casting range. Not more than 15 minutes after the first hook up, I cast back into the same spot and begin bouncing bottom and pulling it in. Line goes tight and the fish peels off into the current! I see a bit bronze tail heading upstream getting ready to go airborne. I put the brasstacks to him and began walking backwards up the levee, making sure no slack was given for him to jump. After a 3 or 4 minute battle, I landed him. 4 pounds of solid smallie muscle.
I'm not going to beat around the bush about this, but I like to eat smallmouth. They're a clean, firm fleshed white fish that tastes somewhere along the line of a rock cod or striper due to strictly eating crawdads. Minimal mercury content is also a plus when compared to stripers, who forage mainly on baitfish. They grill up nicely and I personally consider the Sacramento River Smallie population to be one of the least threatened in our waterways. Head over to any riprap bank during spring and you'll see what I mean. You can easily land 30 smallies to 3lbs in an afternoon of fishing on the right days. That being said, I decided I was done for the day, bled the fish, thanked the river for being cooperative and walked home.
Notice how fat that fillet on the far right is. I got 4 sandwiches out of that one fillet! As always, nothing ended up in a trashcan. I either make fish stock, smoke the carcasses or turn it into vegetable fertilizer for the winter garden. Also reaped 2 nice bass collars to grill later on.
I'm not one who fries fish often, I much prefer to sear it in olive oil, or grill it whole but who could say no to a hot summer evening welcomed by a nice piece of crispy panko breaded smallmouth, fresh garden vegetables and homemade sriracha tartar sauce and yup, thick crispy bacon? Back to school for me tomorrow....
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