Bald Ridge Creek Report 8-1-2015

It’s been a while since I’ve done a creek report so I thought I’d get ya’ll caught up. The creek is about as busy as it’s going to get right now. The boat traffic this past weekend was off the chain. I’ve never seen so much traffic in the creek. As far as fishing is concerned, get it done early or late. Some of my brush piles are right out near the creek channel where points come up shallow. There are plenty of bass holding in these areas but in order to target them this time of year you have to do it in off peak traffic hours or very early in the morning. The drop shot has still been our primary pattern right now but we can still find some nice fish in the back of the creek near a little deeper water. Lisa has been doing some fishing out of the kayak and doing pretty well around structure in the back of the creek. The fish are there and we’ve been seeing a lot of bass coming in and out of our cove feeding on the bream population. Here’s a couple videos and a few pictures from the last week of fishing.

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The summer drop shot is hot!

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I‘m thinking…and hoping that we have reached the apex of summer heat this month. The topwater bite has slowed to a crawl due to the rising surface temps so we’ve been concentrating on the drop shot bite of late. The drop shot is a finesse tactic and is something we’re still learning but Lisa and I have been fortunate enough to find a few fish and we’ve had some good success with it this summer. I first started exploring the drop shot tactic for spotted bass on Lake Lanier years ago after reading a few local fishing reports from a fella that goes by the name of “Lanier Jim”. There’s no doubt that he’s the best on Lanier at catching spotted bass in the summer months on the drop shot rig and after reading his reports and seeing some of his pictures I was intrigued.

My first experience with the drop shot came from live bait on a drop shot rig. Basically, with the drop shot tactic you’re using your electronics to locate fish while slowly moving above structure holding fish and when the fish show up on your sonar, you drop the drop shot rig down to them on the bottom. Often times we can see our drop shot rig on the sonar as it drops to the bottom. You can watch your bait and the fish in real time and some call it “video fishing”. Once I got used to catching fish on live spottail minnows I started using artificial worms and fluke type baits. The rig itself is pretty simple and is nothing more than a small in line hook 1-2 feet up from a small weight. My main line is 6lb XPS fluorocarbon with an 10-18 inch Sunline 8lb FC Sniper leader holding the weight and I paint my weights green. Mostly I’m using a 3/8 ounce teardrop type weight and in heavier wind I use a 1/2 ounce weight. The hooks are #2 VMC Spin Shots. My thought is to make the worm look like it’s jumping and dancing either close to or on the bottom without moving the drop shot weight as much as possible. Every once in a while I’ll pick up the weight and pull up an arms length and then let it drop. I’ll move and re-drop every few minutes. I’m not sure how important hooking the worm is but I hook mine up in the head vertically at an angle and in a fashion so when I pull up on it the whole worm will whip up. I don’t expose the point but it’s right at the top of the end of the worm. I believe the way you hook the worm determines the action you can put on it and I like the whipping action from the little 4 inch worm.

The idea is to keep the weight on the bottom while keeping the line tight and bouncing the rod tip slightly to make your bait on the hook dance in a suspended state. The bait can vary from live bait to artificials.

Probably the most important thing we’ve learned about the drop shot is location. These summer spotted bass on Lanier reside in the underwater structure such as brush piles or small timbers submerged in the 20-40 foot range and come out to forage for their meals. Some days they hold tight to the structure and other days they may range out onto flats or shallow rocks. Since I’ve gotten my new boat, I’ve been making trips to the lake in search of structure and brush piles that are holding fish to mark on my gps and fish. I’ve been concentrating my efforts to water depths between 20-35 ft. It seems like the summer bass like to hold at these depths if there is structure nearby to provide cover and safety. I posted a couple of videos below so you can see the drop shot technique and I included a few pics from some of our recent trips with the drop shot:



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Late Spring and Early Summer Report

It’s been a while since my last post but not much has changed as far as the pattern is concerned. The water has warmed into the mid to high eighties as I write this. The topwater bite has came and went but I’m still able to get a bass or two on the surface. The most action has been the surfacing stripers. I’ve channeled my efforts to the main lake humps recently and I’ve been doing well targeting bass in these areas. My best strategy has been to find humps that come up to 15-20 feet near the river channel. I’ll move around with the trolling motor and cast around topwater plugs while watching the graph. If I mark a group of fish on a flat or a few fish around a brush pile I’ll throw out a marker and start dropshotting the area. Some of the humps have been producing stripers very early in the morning. The stripers are usually in small groups and pushing bait into the shallow areas and feeding on the surface. Usually it’s smaller bluebacks that are skittering across the surface in an attempt to out run the feeding fish. Sometimes a big spotted bass will mix in with the stripers and if you’re lucky you can pull in a very sizable spotted bass on a topwater lure or a soft swimbait body on a leadhead jig. Lisa caught her biggest bass of the summer while we were catching stripers on topwater. We thought it was another striper that hit Lisa’s topwater lure but when we got it to the side of the boat we realized it was a big spot mixing it up with the stripers. Another pattern that has been working for me is throwing crankbaits on rocky points and rocky outcroppings. There are a few nice bass hanging out around the rocks early in the morning. I’ve been using a natural shad medium and deep diving crankbait for the rocks and that’s been working the best.

Lisa and I also made a road trip to my hometown in Ks and then headed south to Lake Texoma for a visit to a friend and fishing guide, James Carter with “Rippin Lips Guide Service”. James took us out on the lake for a day and we had a blast catching stripers on Texoma. I made a little video from our fishing trip on Texoma and it’s posted below.

Our next stop was southern Louisiana and a visit with an old friend from the Navy, Frank Puydak. Frank and I go way back to the late eighties with both of us being stationed at Miramar, Ca. in a F-14 Tomcat fighter squadron and then again at a small air base south of New Orleans. We hadn’t seen each other in 20 years and we did some catching up with a few beers and a fishing trip. Lisa had never caught a redfish so our goal was to get Lisa a redfish or two. I posted a couple videos below from our trip to Louisiana.

One other noteworthy milestone was that we sold the Carolina Skiff and bought a Ranger bass boat. I included a few pictures of our new ride.
Here are a few pics and videos since my last post.

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Creek Report 5-5 through 5-9 May.

Everywhere I fished for the last week or so held a lot of fish. I don’t really use a graph but I let the fish tell me where they are. It’s been easy lately because the creek has been glassed over in the morning and I can see the surface for a long ways. I just sit and watch until I see fish surface. I either make a mental note of where I saw the surface activity or I go to it and start fishing right away. If it’s just a single bass and he only surfaces once I may not go to that area, but if I see a fish surface multiple times or I see multiple fish, it goes on my list of places to fish. Sometimes I’ll see fish surface way off in the distance and make a mental note and go there later. 9 times out of ten the fish are still there and active.

Carp and gar can be an issue when it comes to watching for surfacing fish. They can fool the heck out of you while sight fishing. Yesterday we kept seeing fish roll in a little bay and when we got to the bay we realized we were in the middle of a giant carp orgy. Gar will do the same. If you watch enough, you can tell the difference. The bass and stripers are mainly pushing bluebacks to the surface and then chasing them down. They are very aggressive and they will rip across the surface in pursuit of the blueback. Sometimes the bluebacks will be jumping across the water to get away.

The bass and stripers are very aggressive, feeding on the surface and the carp and gar are just coming up and rolling or breaching the surface in a social manner. I can tell the difference most of the time. Most of the fish I’ve been catching are relating to shallow areas like points and reef markers but they are staged in 20-40 feet of water and running up on the shallow areas to chase the bluebacks.

There is also a little shallow water bite for us right now as we approach the shad spawn. Usually the afternoons evenings are better for us to fish shallow water cranks. I think the bass have been moving up shallow in the evenings and over night with the bright moon and then pulling out in the mornings to chase bluebacks on the surface over a little deeper water. My plan here lately is to hit them early on the surface and then go to the rocks and docks. Cranks on the rocks and spinners and little squarebills around the docks.

Something else that I found that was noteworthy pertaining to colors. This is the time of year that we switch to a more natural shad color like black over silver. When I researched my videos from this time last year I can see where we were using a black over silver (zebra shad) jerkbaits and some cranks in the same color pattern and we were doing pretty well. I have been hitting the banks with a blue over chartreuse without much luck which is normally a great color choice but I’ve been doing a lot better with the natural shad, black over silver when using a shallow crank or jerk.
Here’s a few videos and pictures of some of the action and fish this week.



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Bald Ridge Creek Report 4-19-2015

I made it out to the creek 3 times over the past week. When we fished the last HD bass trail tournament a week ago, I caught most of my fish on the medium diving sand key crankbait around rocks. Although we fished the tournament on the north end of the lake I used the same crankbait in the creek over my last 3 trips and I’ve done well with it. I’ve caught some nice keeper bass by working the crankbait around the rocky points, shallow rocky road beds and shallow water markers. I’ve been keeping my boat in around 20 feet of water and working the crankbait from the shallow shoreline back to the boat. The smaller fish have been coming from the shallower 1-10 feet of water and the bigger guys have been coming from 10-20 feet of water. The key to getting fish with the crankbait is to find the bottom and keep it there as long as possible. Once I find the bottom with the bait I hold the rod loosely with the tip pointed down and I bounce the crank softly off the bottom. You want the crank to mimic a small bait pecking at the bottom as it travels along so a soft bouncing motion with the rod tip has gotten me more bites. The hits have been soft and most times the rod just loads up. Another pattern that has been working for us is throwing small plastic 1-2 inch swimbaits around shallow blow downs and grassy pockets. There are a ton of smaller bass and a few big spawners around the shallows right now and throwing small stuff around shallow structures will definitely net a few bass.

The water temps have been steadily cooling over the week and as of yesterday the surface temps were in the mid 60’s again. I have been seeing some surface activity and I’ve been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time last Friday when I happened onto a striper and bass topwater feeding frenzy at mid creek in a pocket. I was able to catch a nice striper and 3 bass on the surface with the Vixen topwater plug. I gotta tell you, right now is the time to keep a good topwater plug tied on and at the ready. For the most part the topwater bite is just about non existent for me but every once in a while I can get a good fish on the Vixen if I time my cast right and I have perfect placement of the plug. There are stripers showing themselves in the creek right now. You can find some nice fish over the creek channel and pulling boards and freelines is a good way to catch a couple of nice big stripers on the surface. Soon we’ll be seeing a shad spawn and the crankbait bite should really get going good. It’s only going to get better as the water temps warm.

I’m going to offer a 2 pack of my two favorite Lanier medium diving crankbaits that have been producing for me on Lanier for the past year at a great price. These two cranks are a must if your fishing Lanier this spring and summer. These are hand painted with my Sand Key pattern and the two different body styles offer 2 different wobble patterns. Both baits have produced for us just about any month of the year and if you look through my photo page (http://castawayblog.com/pictures/) you can see the two crankbaits in some of my photos over the past year. These cranks have produced some big fish over the past year and now is your chance to get a couple of rare Cast Away custom crankbaits. If you’re interested in the cranks, just shoot me a message for the details on how to get the two pack. Here’s a picture of the two pack and one of the fish from last week.
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Lanier Striper Report (Spring)

I haven’t posted much lately but it’s not been from a lack of fishing. I believe I set a record for time on the water over the last 5 days. My sponsored striper team came over to Lanier from SC and they stayed at Cast Away Cove for the week. We spent five days pre-fishing for a big striper tournament on Lanier. I had to shift gears and go from bass fishing to stripers for the upcoming tournament. We mostly concentrated our striper fishing efforts to the north end of the lake because our resident creek fish had already moved through the back of the creek in spawn mode and back out to the main creek channel. Once they hit the main channel they are very hard to locate and track and we were looking for big spawning males and females still in the backs of the creeks.
From what I gathered over the past week, there are still stripers moving in and out of the creeks in spawning mode but the bulk of the spawn is over for a lot of areas. During the pre-spawn the stripers are very aggressive eaters and they were biting all over the lake for the past couple weeks while in pre-spawn mode. There are also a lot of staging fish in the mouths of the creek over deeper water. The tournament was actually won by a team fish over deep water pulling topwater herring on the surface. Our strategy was pulling big gizzard shad shallow, looking for a couple good bites a day from spawning fish. Over the five day stretch we didn’t have many good bites but tournament day was the only day that counted. On tournament day we fished up north on the Tee side of the lake and worked on some fish we had found in a feeder creek up river. The water temps were a little above 60 degrees and there were some stripers swimming around but not many eating. We finally popped a 19lber around mid day on a blueback behind a planer board. Turns out, it was a tough day for most teams in the tournament and we were able to pull out a nice 6th place finish and won some pretty cool prizes.
Here’s a pic of my teammate Patrick Miller and I with our tournament fish:
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All in all it was a great time with the team but I’m wore slap out and need a few days to recuperate. Next week it’s back to bass fish with another big bass tournament next weekend.
Here’s a couple videos from the past couple weeks, including some nice stripers caught on topwater during the spawn.

Fixin the Bone Vixen

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Just last week I made my first purchase with Tackle Warehouse. I wanted to pick up a few things I needed, and as always, a few new shiny fishy things I wanted. I’ve been reading a lot about these topwater lures called “Vixen” on the Bass Barter and Buy website I frequent and some of the old Vixens on the site sell for upwards of $200.00. The fishermen on the website rave about these Vixen lures and I remember reading about the lures last summer in a Georgia Outdoor News magazine. In the magazine they had a cover page picture of this guy holding up a solid 5 pound spotted bass and this bone colored “Vixen” topwater lure was dangling from the fishes jaw. I could see the word Vixen plain as day on the back of the lure. That was a pretty cool picture and just about all the convincing I needed to buy a few of those Vixens.
With summer just around the corner and a shallow water striper bite in full swing I decided to take the plunge and buy the Vixen. The only color I was interested in was the bone colored pattern. The bone color is the universal color for stripers and bass. I’ve been throwing lures for a lot of years and when I think back to some of my most memorable topwater striper catches, a bone colored topwater lure made the top 10 on a few different occasions. Probably the most memorable was a few years back in the July heat of the summer, my friend Capt. Doug Nelms and I ran across a big school of stripers pushing bluebacks to the surface over deep water. We were pulling a spread of leadcore rigs and decided to take a crack at the big school of stripers with some light tackle topwater action. I circled the boat towards the surfacing school and we took a shot at the school while pulling leadcore. We couldn’t stop the boat with the leadcore lines running 250 feet behind the boat so we had to take a shot at the surfacing stripers on the fly. I had a bone colored Spook Jr. tied to a medium light spinning rig at the ready. You know, sometimes timing is everything with a topwater striper. If you put the right bait in the right area at the right time you’ll usually get the right reaction and the right result. I did all that stuff right and here was the end result:

That was my first topwater striper while trolling leadcore and casting to a single striper on the fly. My buddy Capt. Doug did an excellent job of driving the boat and circling the fish while I battled the striper on light tackle. You can see that bone colored Spook Jr I was using in the video.

Well, back to the bone Vixen. I received my package on time and timing couldn’t have been better. We have some crappie fishing friends who have a lake house out towards the mouth of our creek and this is the time of year the crappie like to hang out around docks and brush piles. Our friends enjoy catching crappie at night under their dock lights and these warmer spring nights provide some nice evenings for catching crappie. The only problem is the big stripers like to frequent the same areas at night during the spring and scare off all the crappie so striper eradication is necessary to make our friends evenings more enjoyable. That’s where I come in. If there is ever a need for striper eradication I’m your man, Johnny on the spot and ready to do battle with those pesky unwanted stripers day or night. Those three bone colored Vixens I bought were going to work right away. It was Friday afternoon and I was finishing up and order of shad baits and checking out the box my lures came in. Heck the box looks seductive in itself so I guess if the lure doesn’t work, well, you’ve got the box to look at. Here’s a photo of the lures and the box just before going into battle.
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I inspected the lures and determined that the hooks were somewhat tough looking and slip ring looked a little weak but with todays new technology those slip rings were probably some kind of miniature forged metal heavy duty slip rings. Hey, it’s a Vixen and a somewhat pricey one at that so it’s bound to have good hardware. It looked sweet and I thought about a big striper blowing up on it as I tied it on my medium spinning gear with fresh 8lb test mono. I was ready.

We were settled in at the lake house right after an early Friday dinner and I was heading out towards the mouth of the creek in our little 17 Lowes. I wanted to do a little recon mission and then come back and get Lisa right after dark for the night raid on the stripers. I showed up in the pocket our friends dock is in and I cut the motor down to watch the sun set and look for stripers. They already had the dock lights on and it didn’t take long till I saw the first surfacing striper. I had to do a double take on the boil the striper created. It was big and I watched the same area for other activity. Another boil caught my eye in a little pocket to the left of area of the dock so I kicked the trolling motor up on high and made my way into the area of the boils. I saw another good sized striper in the very back of the cut and he was full on chasing bait on the surface. The little pocket came alive with stripers and boils as I approached. I took my foot off the trolling motor pedal and quietly picked up the Vixen on the spinning gear. I was right in the middle of a feeding frenzy and stripers were moving all around me. I unhooked the Vixen and watched the water to pick out a target. I was looking for one aggressive surfacing fish and as soon as I found it, I was going too put that Vixen right in the area as quickly as possible. Finally I saw a bigger striper hit the surface and I made my cast; it was perfectly placed just beyond the area where the big striper surfaced and I moved the Vixen for the first time, walking the dog back to the boat. The lure had a big clunky ball bearing in the forward area and the sound the ball bearing made banging back and forth provided some audio attraction for the fish. I saw the striper come up and swirl behind the Vixen but then left it alone as I brought it back to the boat. I liked the feel of the lure and I got ready to make a second cast when I saw the same striper come back up in the same area and was swimming on the surface like he was looking for something. I threw the lure back at the fish and within an instant he attacked it. The lure disappeared from the surface with a small pop and it took a second for me to process what happened. As soon as everything was processed I set the hook on the running striper. He was big, tearing drag off the spinning reel with no intention of slowing down. He was heading for the back of the cut, right down the middle and pulling deeper as he went. I put my foot down on the trolling motor and started chasing the striper down. He didn’t stop so I put my hand on the spool of the spinning reel for just a tad more drag on the fish to see if I could stop him before snapping the 8lb test. Finally he stopped in mid channel after a 200+ foot run. Now came the task of turning the fish and getting him pointed in the right direction. I knew just about how much force I could put on the 8lb test and I began to try and turn the fish and I pulled hard to turn the fishes head. When I did, I felt the line unload and I was cranking back a weightless length of line. It took a while to get the line back to the boat but when I did I was glad to see the Vixen still attached and ready for the next cast…. well almost anyway. Upon further inspection of the lure, I found one of the back hooks straightened. My heart sank.. I don’t mind losing a fish now and then but it stings pretty bad when losing one to faulty hardware. Especially brand new lures that cost some coin. Hey, it happens and I know that was a big striper. It looked well over twenty up on the surface and I know a big striper has a hard boney mouth so a single hook holding a striper that big is probably a pretty tough task. There are 3 big treble hooks on a Vixen for a total of 9 barbs to be used to hold a fish and the chances of just one of those barbs being used is pretty slim. Usually the fish get at least 2 sets of hooks buried in his jaw to hold the weight. I thought to myself, I should probably change those hooks out when I get back to the shop and put some bigger hooks and heavier slip rings on these lures.
I sped back to the lake house to pick up Lisa and get back out to the action right after dark. Lisa was ready to go and I tied on a blue bomber on her medium action rig. The blue bomber is my second favorite jerkbait type lure to use after dark. It has some evil looking florescent orange eyes that glow in the dark and stripers love them. Our friends were on their dock as we pulled up and we chatted for a minute and watched for surfacing fish. It was dark beyond the reaches of the dock lights but we could hear splashes off in the distance in the direction of the cut where I had lost the big fish earlier. After chatting, I kicked in the trolling motor and started moving us towards the darkness and the feeding stripers. Luckily there were some smaller lights from a couple docks in the cut and it made seeing the ripples from the surfacing fish more visible. We slipped ito the area and cut the trolling motor and waited. The stripers were swimming everywhere on the graph. We could see schools of 5-10 fish moving all around. Lisa started throwing the bomber and I went to work with the Vixen. It didn’t take long and Lisa was hooked up with a nice 8 pounder on the bomber. She was having a blast and the striper provided us with some aerial acrobatics in the darkness with the dim dock light in the backdrop. The smaller stripers were feeding and we were sitting in the middle of a striper feeding bonanza. The Vixen was a big hit with the smaller stripers and a few bass that were getting into the action in the cut. We lost as many hook ups and we landed but after about an hour of this I think the stripers figured us out and moved out of the area. Lisa and I headed back to the lake house for the night and with a plan to get back out the first thing in the morning before light. Here’s a nice striper we caught on the Vixen just after dark.
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My internal alarm went off at around 4am and I gathered my thoughts before rolling out for that first cup of coffee. My plan was to have a few cups of coffee and get the boat ready for a early morning run back to the scene of the crime from the night before. I made a cup of coffee to go and off I went up the creek channel with the occasional dock lighting on both sides acting as a large runway path up the creek in the early morning hours. Lisa was still fast asleep and I would be fishing alone for the first hour or two before I went back to the lake house for breakfast. As I pulled into the area in front of the dock I saw a smaller striper just to the front edge of the dock. The striper was right at the dock and swirling on bait attracted to the light. I threw the Vixen into the area of the smaller striper and he swirled on the Vixen just as soon as it made the first rattle. After the swirl he disappeared and I briefly thought he was gone, but in a second I heard another pop and felt the line tighten of the spinning rig. The striper was smaller and I was able to horse him to the boat rather quickly and in a couple minutes I had the fish at the side of the boat using the lights on the dock to help me land the fish. It was a little guy compared to some and maybe made 5lbs but fought like a solid 10 pounder. These stripers had been spending the last month feeding on the abundant bait that had made its way into the creek in search of warmer winter water. The stripers we were catching were fat March stripers and very very strong.

As the sun was rising through the still leafless trees, I could feel the air warming and I could see a mix of pinks and blues in the eastern sky. I saw two big stripers roll on some bait very near the shore so I pointed the boat in the direction of the big swirls and splashes. I put the hammer down on the trolling motor and got ready for a precise cast. I took a quick look at the line from the lure up about 4 feet to make sure there were no scuffed up areas. The line looked good and the trolling motor couldn’t get to the area fast enough. I had about 100lbs of pressure pushing down on the foot pedal and I could still see the stripers in the shallow water chasing threadfin shad and blueback herring. They were making a big wake as they moved through the shallows and I only had a few more feet to make the perfect cast. I could tell these fish were bigger fish. Maybe 20+ pound fish and they were making some big splashes as they went. I could feel my heart beating in my chest and I know my knees were shaking as I quietly pulled my foot off the trolling motor. I put my first cast right into the area next to the mud bank and within an instant one of the big stripers sucked the Vixen down and I set the hook on the running fish. The fish made a run directly under the boat and I had to stick the rod deep in the water to avoid the fish getting tangled in the trolling motor. I cleared the trolling motor with the rod somehow and the fish was clear and heading for deeper water. My drag was set perfectly and I knew I could put some pressure on the fish as I stood on the bow of the boat and let the big striper pull the boat along. For some reason the striper wanted to stay on the surface which made my job a lot easier. If I could keep the fish on the surface it was just a matter of wearing out the fish and gaining line till he gets to the side of the boat. That’s the preferred method but sometimes the larger and wiser stripers go rouge and swim down deep, looking for that underwater standing timber or huge brush piles that riddle the bottom of Lake Lanier. I’ve been outsmarted by some big stripers before and when I’m fighting a big striper I always know that going deep is something in the stripers bag of tricks. If the striper starts going deep I always like to add a little extra pressure to the fish in hopes of turning the fish back towards the boat.
I had the fish on the ropes and I could see the Vixen in the fishes mouth as he came along side the boat just under the surface. At the sight of the boat he made another run and I held the rod up high too keep him at the surface. I just about had him turned when the line went limp and I saw the Vixen come to the surface 10 feet behind the boat. The big striper was gone, pulled off…so I thought until I inspected the lure and found the whole front hook was missing right down to the eyelet. The big striper had straightened the slip ring and made his escape sporting some new hardware on his lip. Man, the Vixen let me down again…. I felt like a dumb*** for letting it happen a second time. I pulled up the trolling motor and headed back to the house to pick up Lisa and switch out a few hooks and slip rings. Let’s just say that the ride back to the house was the ride of shame as I reflected on my inner stupid coming out in full force this morning.

The bone Vixen needed fixin and I had just the hardware it needed for these big stripers. I dug through the hardware box at the house and found some brand new Eagle Claw #2 nickel plated 375 treble hooks with 30lb stainless slip rings. Lisa drove the boat back out to the mouth of the creek while I switched out hooks and rings on the Vixens. No big deal, they just needed a striper modification. I guess those stock hooks were good for those feisty little green fish jerking around on those spindly hooks and rings but this was one of those times where I have to put the big boy pants on the bass lures to accommodate the larger variety of the bass species. I knew my new hardware modification would be up for the task. One thing that I like to do with these bigger stronger stripers once they are hooked is set the hook a few more times during the fight because these bigger fish have very big and boney mouths and a good hook set is necessary to hold the fish during the fight. The nickel plated Eagle Claw trebles were more than enough to hold the bigger stripers.
When pulled into the cove the stripers and bass were in full feeding mode with boils both large and small. We could tell the difference between the stripers boiling on the surface and the bass boils. I saw one big boil in particular near the shore. This was a bigger fish and it was working it’s way down the red clay shoreline wreaking havoc as it went. When the striper surfaced it was like a train wreck with tremendous splashes and slapping from the big fishes tail crashing the water. This fish was an upper 20’s, maybe low 30’s and I told Lisa to get ready as I made my way to the shoreline to intercept the fish as she worked her way up the shoreline. This fish was more than likely a female feeding for the upcoming spawn. I eased up in the area and put Lisa in position for a cast just as the big fish surfaced between the boat and the shore. When she surfaced again Lisa was startled by the size of the fish and she put the perfect cast just where I would of put it. She rattled the Vixen and few times but nothing came up. In the next instant the striper resurfaced to the right of where we had guessed the big striper to be and had moved on up the shoreline. I realized we had the morning sun to our backs and the big striper more than likely saw us approaching and quickly departed. I was really hoping that Lisa would get hooked up with one of the bigger stripers we were seeing and she was working the Vixen perfectly with the back and forth rhythm of walking the dog. As it turned out, that was the last striper we saw for the morning when a couple of jet skiers decided to cruise through the area several times. The stripers moved on but we stayed for a while and was able to manage a few nice bass to salvage the morning. Here’s a few pictures of some nice spring bass on the Vixen.
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Here’s a good video of the Vixen in some early morning dock action with a feisty spotted bass:

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As we were leaving the area just before lunch the jet skiers pulled into the dock next to our friends dock and we were able to chat for a few minutes. Turns out, the jet skiers would be renting the neighbors lake house for the next two weeks and there would be several kids swimming and jet skiing throughout spring break in the cove. I figured all the extra traffic and noise would probably run the stripers from the area in just a few days but we were able to pull a few good ones out of the area before they left. We headed back to the house to call it a day.

The next morning was Sunday and we were packing for an early departure from the lake. It was raining outside and it had been since just after midnight. We were going to grab some breakfast on the way home from the lake and watch a little nascar in the afternoon. I was pretty sure the neighbor kids next to our friends house would take care of the striper problem over the next week. Lisa told me she wanted to do a little cleaning before we left and it was going to take about a half hour….well that’s all I needed. I told her I was going to dawn my rain gear and make one more check on the dock before we headed out. She said ok and I was off in an instant. I jumped in the boat, fired it up and untied for the quick trip up the creek. The rain had let up a little and it made the run a little more bearable for the run at 30mph to the cove. When I got there nothing was happening, no surface activity except the small circles made by the rain droplets on the water. I sat and watched but nothing was happening. I figured the neighbor kids were up half the night swimming and hanging around the dock making noise and running the stripers to the next county. The rain started to get heavier again and I was just about to head back to the house when I saw 2 separate stripers come up at the same time right in front of our friends dock. They rolled on the surface again and again and I knew they were attacking a big pod of bait in front of the dock. I was just in range to make a cast so I tapped the trolling motor to get my body in position to make a good cast right in the area. The two stripers were still on the surface when I made my cast and it was a good one, right in the area the two were swirling around. I rattled the Vixen and nothing….I rattled the Vixen and just as I thought it wasn’t going to happen the big striper popped the Vixen and it was gone. I set the hook on the striper just as she took off. My rod tip was bouncing as the reel drag gave the fish the resistance needed to wear the fish down. I faced the fish and let her run. She peeled off a good 100 feet before slowing and turning parallel to the boat. My knees were shaking and my heart was thumping and I watched the 8lb test line from the rod tip to the water. The striper was coming to the surface as I watched the angle of the line rise and I could see small pieces of lake debris hanging from the 8lb mono rising above the water. The fish was pulling the boat along and I knew that if the fish stayed on the surface I had him. I pumped the Vixen a few times to ensure a good hook set. I watched the end of the line sink and the angle of the line change and I knew the fish was looking deep again. I kept constant pressure on the fish and kept the rod tip high in the air to hopefully coax the fish back to the surface away from the underwater structure that bigger fish like to get into. Finally the fish started to rise again and I felt a sigh of relief as she swirled on the surface. I went to work on gaining the line back and for the next few minutes it was a game of tug of war with the striper as she stayed near the surface. I kept the right amount of pressure on the fish and she eventually calmed down and came along side for a quick landing and photo Before being released. Here’s a photo of the striper:
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She was a pretty stout teenage fish and a great fight on light tackle. She was just the fish I had been looking for to end the weekend and I considered the striper eradication to be a complete success. The neighbors called and said between the hurting we put on them and the neighbor kids in and out of the cove the stripers had cleared the area for the year and the crappie had returned to the underwater brush piles.