Report: Fishing the High Hook Striper Tournament

Saturday was an early wake up for a 4am lines-in-the-water call. Radio chatter and smack-talk began around 4:15am. But this is the fun part about fishing a tournament.

The less-than-fun part is getting out front and meeting a nice 15-20kt wind and a 2-3 foot chop. And man that wind was cold. 

But, we sucked it up loaded the livewell with mackerel. The mackerel surprisingly showed back up, and in numbers.

At the East End

Out front, we made the decision to head to the East End of the Canal, where we’d be a little bit protected by the wind. The wind forecast looked like it would die down considerably as the morning wore on, so, if we didn’t already have a 40# fish in the box, we’d head across the bay to see what was cooking.

The ride to the East End was bumpy and wet and in our first few drifts, we didn’t mark a single fish. In fact, no one seemed to be catching anything. The current was ripping West to East, yet the bait and stripers didn’t seem to follow.

As the tide neared slack, we marked two fish and doubled up.

Two fish, 31″ and 32″ respectively, were pulled in. Hey, at least we’d have something to weight in. But something told me a 10.5 pounder wasn’t going to take the High Hook.

But, with a couple fish in the box, and the weather warming and the wind dying down, we were invigorated. We opened a few sandwiches and got to work on the beer cooler as we made the long run across the bay.

*Official sandwich eating time was 7:03am–a fairly late time and a surprise to all the pundits in the know.

At the Race and On the Fish

Race Point was a parking lot–and not a quiet one. There were hundreds of boat trolling and drifting the rip and around the point. And people weren’t exactly pleasant.

Radio chatter about the tournament told of a very slow day. Either they were telling the truth or they were being very tight lipped about some hidden location where they were pulling in cow after cow.

To avoid the crowd, we moved down closer to Herring Cove and got to work patrolling the drop off for cruising linesiders.

We marked sporadic fish, but couldn’t get any real takes. When not completely on this year, the fish have been very docile. They’ll play with the mackerel, nip at them, but won’t take them completely.

This happened numerous times during our drifts. We continued drifting the pot line, and suddenly marked two very large fish in the sonar. Streaking up.

If this doesn’t get the blood pumping in the last few hours of a very wide open fishing tournament, I don’t know what will.

A mackerel got picked up and the drag screamed in the way only a big fish can make the drag scream.

At the bow Ryan had been throwing a bone SP minnow. He let out a yell but missed the fish. But then it came back and walloped it on the surface, and line shot from Ryan’s reel. We were doubled up with two seemingly big fish.

Ryan’s came to the boat first, a fish much bigger specimen than our earlier keepers.

We continued to fight the second fish and as soon as we saw color, the boat erupted. It looked to me like a tournament winning fish.

With the bite slowing, and a decent ride back to the harbor, we made the decision to head back across the now-flat calm bay.

The Weigh-In

At the VFW, we enjoyed cheap draft beers and outrageous amounts of fried chicken and homemade baked beans (have I mentioned how much I like fried chicken?)

The fish were put on the scale one by one. Seven Stripes went first: 23.47 pounds. Close but no cigar.

When it was done, we were right in the middle of the pack. Congrats to Storm Cloud with the 32.73 pound fish, a big one considering how slow the fishing was that day.

Overall, a great day fishing the Bay with some unbelievable captains. I’m already looking forward to the fried chicken next year.

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