Striper Sensations

 

As the boat glides off the trailer in the early morning chill, I feel a certain fishyness in the air. It is mid-morning and the sun has already crested the autumn colored appalachain ridges as it works to melt the mist. A slight breeze has taken up out of the north and it spins spiraling columns of fog like miniature tornadoes in a Russian ballet.

I am alone on this venture. My boat and my tackle are my only partners. The three cylinders in my small motor take their first gasp of air with a smoky growl. Allowing the motor to warm, I attempt to make myself as impervious as possible to the frosty wind I am about to encounter. I notice as the sun shimmers on the first waves on the river that day. The water smiles at me and I smile back.

A shiver runs from my hair to my toenails as the boat rises and the motor quenches it's thirst. This is not a normal shiver. It is the shiver that only children get on a cold Christmas morning, the shiver that you feel on your first kiss. This shiver is less from the sub-zero temperatures and more from the anticipation of the potential history I am about to write.

Undescribable cold temperatures and piercing gale force winds pummel me and I love it. The great blue heron and the belted kingfisher keep a watchful eye on this noisy intruder. Canada geese and beautiful wood ducks take to flight, dotting the skyline. Parts of my face become numb one by one and I love that too.

I see the seagulls circling just before the next bend in the river and I open the carbeurators up. Streaking now, I see a fish leap, thrashing the water and somersaulting in a display of power. Wiping the tears from my face with my glove, I see more fish exploding on the surface, gulls diving madly. There is no doubt about what the fish is and what it is doing. A hundred stripers from twenty to thirty pounds, insane with the thought of feeding. All I want is one.

Power down, glide to a crawl. Before the boat slows down, I have my trusty casting outfit in hand and the trolling motor in the water on high speed. I pray for the fish to continue their watery havoc. Just a few more grueling feet until they are in range. What a sight to behold.

For months, I carefully planned on this one moment.I didn't know if I was prepared, but I was soon to find out. The thumbar depresses with that familiar click that I've come to adore. I focus on the largest fish I can find in this roaring frenzy. In one motion, the lure flies true and long, landing accurately.

I turn the handle once, twice, three times, feel a Greyhound bus collide with my lure and I rear back with all my might. After a split second, a tail appears where my lure used to be and thrashes frantically. The fight has begun. Experienced in handling this sort of issue, I aim the boat at the fish and allow it peel line at an extraordinary pace. This behemoth makes off with 50 yards of my monofilament before stopping to take a breath.

The fish takes some time to subdue, but subdue it does. Its massive white belly rolling up beside my boat. I weigh and measure the fish for reference and return it to the water, paying it my respects. Forty-six inches and forty-two pounds, my largest fish ever.

Continuing the day of fishing, several more large striped fish met the same match. By noon, the action ceased. Having logged one of the most outstanding fishing trips in my history, I return home to plan for months, the next single moment like this.