Crockett, a striper, and a broken heart...

Ken Jones

Staff member
Date: June 20, 2003
To: PFIC Message Board
From: anadromous

Subject: Where do broken hearts go?

Since the stripers have started to show up, I've been making weekly, and now twice-weekly recon trips to Crockett. This report is for 6/19. Got there around the middle of the incoming tide, about 3:45pm or so. On my 4th or so cast, I got nailed, and proceeded to land a fish of about 19". I was glad because I got to break in the net I've started carrying, and also because the skunk has never been too far away lately. Snapped a pic, then released him. I thought about keeping it, but I had just got there and didn't want to drag a fish around the whole time.
Since I've hooked a 19 incher quickly in 3 of the past 4 trips, I didn't take this as a sign of a good day. I just took it for what it was, a quick "monkey off my back" deal, which was good.
Started working the surrounding areas hard with my Blue/Chrome Bleeding Shad Rat-L-Trap, and it wasn't long before I got another hit. This hit felt like a 10" shaker, but when I set the hook, that assessment was blown out of the water instantly.
As soon as I put tension on the fish, it took off. It didn't screw around with any of that side-to-side stuff, just headed directly away from me, peeling drag the whole time. I couldn't even think of touching my reel for about a minute. I just hung on as the pit bull at the end of my line slowly but steadily headed for Mare Island. There was no doubt that this was the hit I've been waiting for in the 2 years or so I've been striper fishing.
After a while of this, the fish started to slow down, so I tried to turn it. The fish wasn't having it, and soon it was making another run. After the second run, I was finally able to put some pressure on it. I got a few rod pumps in, then I saw my line going for the surface. The fish kinda paused with its back out of the water, then dove. But in that second I saw a huge (at least for me) back that dwarfed the little brother I met earlier.
This had been going on for 3 or 4 minutes now, and my tackle was holding up well, so I figured it was time to fight back. I slowly gained my line back, and periodically, the fish would come up to the surface, pause, then splash back toward the bottom. By now I had gotten a pretty good look at it. It looked to be about 27-30", maybe 8-10 pounds (being conservative).
It was getting close, and I was sooo glad I had a net. It was about 15 feet away, and I was already running through digging out the camera in my head, mentally celebrating, wondering if I should keep it (which I wouldn't have done, given the dangers of eating large stripers). Then, in an irritatingly nonchalant way, my lure just popped out of the water. No savage blaze of glory, no whip-cracking line snap, just a weak "plop".
I was left hanging, and my stomach just dropped. I reached for the nearest expletive I could find, and fired it out, but it didn't put the fish back on my hook. I wondered how this happened, and my questions were answered when I inspected my lure (see picture).
I knew that there wasn't much of a chance of my day being saved, but I had to keep fishing anyway just in case. I casted for another hour or so without a hit, and went home broken.
Side note: I know stripers of this size aren't uncommon, but I haven't been fishing for them long, and I expect to move back home to SoCal within the next couple of months. I was devastated knowing how long it took me to find that fish, and realizing that I probably won't get a chance again before I leave. That would have been a sweet picture to look at to remind me of one of the main things I'll miss about the Bay Area.

Posted by pescare

Ouch! At least the fish is better off for being "released" like that. A lot of the delta regulars never use the stock hooks and replace with Gamakatsu wide gap trebles to avoid that problem. I do that for salmon trolling with Wiggle Warts, but don't bother for stripers since I won't keep them anyway. Ed

Posted by anadromous

Oh yeah...Saw a couple of flounders caught, and I think there may have been more. Something new for me.

Posted by Rock Hopper

Bummer, dude.If nothing else, at least you got to see it. I know how you feel, though, because it's the picture that I'm usually after also. Even if the fish was to be released it'd be nice to get that photo! Hopefully you'll get at least one more fatty to the shore before you head south. Good luck!
Röc´K HòppéR – Thë J?††? Jùnk‡

Posted by patrick333

Man, great report. I feel you man, but I am sure you will get it next time. He/she will be a trophy picture in your collection.

Posted by shark bait

I hope you get another shot before going back to SoCal! I'll give Crockett at try after work today. I'll be wearing a raider jersey, so say hi if you go.

Posted by Songslinger

Wow... I keep looking at that bent treble. Geeze! Dunno man, I've pulled 30-inchers out of there and they never bent the hook like that. I think you had a bigger beast there! What a tragic outcome for a fine fight. Not much solace can be found in the fact that you would have released it anyway. But the spirit is willing. Great report, Sir. I can feel the emotion and adrenaline. Know what you mean about the 19-inch fish. The area seems to have them in that size in good quantities. Good eaters...

Posted by gyozadude

They mend after the next date...Sounds like a big one got away, but I'm sure you'll nail an even bigger one next time!
Gyozadude, Yes - I can roll my own potsticker skins"

Subject: Posted by baitfish

That sucks for so many reasons! Awesome report, thanks for sharing the emotional roller coaster! BTW, what area are you moving to? Adam
Fish have to eat, all you need to do is figure out the ingredients.

Posted by anadromous

I'm getting married in August, then moving back home to SD. The spotties don't stand a chance, LOL.

Posted by Jason Chin

Awwww man. Confidence my friend, you still have time. It's harder to keep them on the hook with the plug than it is on bait. A tougher challenge in my book indeed. Read your post down the page. Hating is ok. As long as it forces you to excel. Remember though, these catches didn't happen over night. You know how many girlfriends I've lost because of fishing? Too many. Countless hours I've spent on the water. It's definitely a way of life. With the time you've been here you've learned quite a bit about the bay area fishery. It takes years for people who are resident here to gain that knowledge. Give yourself some credit. Take care and keep throwing. Jason "bayrunner"

Posted by caffeinehigh

Nice report, we're all bummed on the bent hooks....that totally bites....

Posted by salty nick

Bummer. Keep trying. Tough fish to bend the hook like that. I still have yet to catch a striper on a lure - but then I haven't put the time in that you have. Your posts inspire me to keep trying. I've had that premature celebratory frame of mind and lost fish while in it. Now I try to concentrate on the netting and push the celebration out of my mind until the fish is in the net. But then I'm sure you already knew that - it's just the doing that's sometimes hard.
Hope you catch one before moving down south - I look forward to that post. Salty.

Posted by Daniel E.

A fish spends its whole life fighting to stay alive from being eaten by a bigger fish. Its strength is of its beauty of its heart and you become one with the fish as you both are put in the fight. If you return the fish it becomes free as so do you to fight another day to just stay alive. And that feeling will keep you fishing.

Posted by chen the fishermen

You are a tough man. If this happened to me, I would break down and start crying

Posted by anadromous

Who says I didn't?

Subject: Posted by pescador619

Bro...when you get down here maybe ill have someone to go corvina hunting with me. Maybe give me a few pointers on top-water lures eh? I’ve seen corvina up to 24" down here. I’ve only landed one at 19" and even though it was on 20lb test it still gave an awesome fight and the aerial show that mobilesuit's story drew out is just more motivation to target these guys. Although I’ve never caught a striper, I’m sure the spotties, halies, and hopefully the corvina will be keeping your hands full.