As I’ve said before, those impromptu trips can be the best. Watching the weather bringing nonstop rain didn't stop the urge to get back in the driver's seat. I called up friend and Hobie Pro Staffer Joe Underwood (PhillyJoe) and basically said, "It's raining, who cares, LETS GO!"
We hit the striper grounds with high hopes and positive attitudes. Excitement slowly warmed me every time my Werner Camano paddle hit the water, as the intense anticipation grew for what might be in store. The name of the game was to soak eels: one on a weighted line, and one on a free line. KayakKevin.com has a great "how to" on big striper fishing. With bait clickers engaged, it became another game of patience for the big’uns. It didn't take long for the first clicker to start burning. Joe was first on the board with a nice 33", followed up by a nice 38" a short time later.
In less than an hour, Joe had two respectable fish on the board. Like the competitor I am, I didn't want to be outdone. I would not have been too pleased to get a skunk after this. Just as I had hoped, I felt a giant "thud" on my free-lined eel, "Fish on!" As the fish started to give me a sleigh ride, the clicker on my weighted eel in my rear road holder began to scream. "I GOT A DOUBLE, wahoo!!" After what seemed like an eternity, I landed my first fish and pinned it down with my legs to keep it from flopping out of the kayak. My attention went to the rod with the screaming clicker. I engaged the reel, and SET the hook hard! Time for sleigh ride number two! When it was all said and done, I had two big stripers in my lap! The one on the left is 38", and the one on the right is 42".
Bait clickers screamed and drags burned all night long! One of the awesome parts of the night was hooking up with a fish 20 feet away from Joe as he hooked up. We were laughing and saying, "This is great!" Joe landed a 38" and I landed a 32".
The rest of the night kept on at the same pace. I caught a couple more fish, but Joe had the hot hand. He was hooking up left and right. Joe would mark a fish on his fish finder, reel up or down to it, then hook up seconds later - it was great!! He landed multiple fish over 30", including a really nice release citation 44". We ended the night with a total of 14 fish between 29" and 44". Congrats, Joe, on getting your citation striper!
Watching Joe land that 44" stud just drove me even harder to get back out again and try for that citation class striper before 2012 is in the history books. We headed back out a few nights later, praying to have the same results. The bite was not as fast and furious as we hoped, but the night was not a bust either. I picked up a 36" fish right away.
The evening was capped off on a high note as I achieved my goal. Not only did I manage to get my first release citation striper, I got two in the same night. It was a blessing to land a really nice 44.25" and a 45" fatty!
If one thing is for certain, it’s that the cows are hungry in the Chesapeake Bay! These fish are strong and obviously put up a huge fight. Remember, the water temperature is cold and very dangerous! Use the buddy system and take every safety precaution during this time of year. It does not take long for hypothermia to set in once you enter the cold water. These fish are a great challenge, but not worth risking your life over! Be safe, good luck, and Happy Holidays!
See ya on the water!
About the Author: Richie Bekolay is diehard kayak fisherman and outdoorsman that resides in Newport News, Virginia. Originally from southeastern Wisconsin, his fishing roots started very early in life as he spent most of his free time pursuing the popular freshwater species with his true passion being the mighty musky. Currently serving in the Air Force, Richie has expanded his skill set from the sweet water to the salt of the Chesapeake Bay. He’s an accomplished tournament angler with most recently a 1st place win for the “Slam” division in the 2012 Tidewater Kayak Anglers Association Kayak Fish For Charity Tournament (3rd largest kayak fishing event in the country) and an 8th place finish in the 2012 IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Atlantic Division Angler of the Year race. Richie is also a pro staff member with Ocean Kayak, Werner Paddles, and a HOOK1 Crew Member. Don't be surprised if you're on the water or at an outdoors event and run into him and his "Cheesehead" accent. You can follow his fish tales in his blog; Hook, Line, & Sinker at hooklinesinker1.blogspot.com.