Many fish bite if you’ve got good bait
It was difficult finding the right fish. The first two spots I tried were empty, or the white perch were simply not biting. Valuable time was slipping away. Moving up into a familiar tributary changed my fortunes but not quite the way I intended.
I had thrown a small chartreuse spinner bait up close to an old dock and made just one or two turns of the rod handle when it was stopped solid. Then the rod bowed as a husky fish started out fast for deeper water. The line started the vibrating syncopation that means big fish. My spirits sank.
Getting the darkly colored jumbo perch in as quickly as I could, I released it and moved on to shallower water. I was beginning to feel desperate. Dropping my small stern anchor, I began throwing the little lure around some downed trees. This time I felt a light tap then a wiggling resistance.
As delicately as I could, I lifted the fish toward my skiff and readied the crab net I always use for this affair. As the fish neared the boat, I eased up the pressure even more and gradually brought it to the surface. As soon as I saw the flash I knew it was a good one: under five inches.
Anytime you leave a critical element, such as securing a supply of live bait, until the last moment, you are begging the gods to fool with you. They rarely pass up the opportunity.
Fish Are Biting
The summertime patterns are falling into place. Nice schools of stripers can be found at Love Point, The Dumping Grounds, Podickery, Hackett’s and Thomas Point Light. Light-tackle jiggers are hooking up around the Bay Bridge
Perch and croaker fishermen are filling their baskets much more quickly than just a week ago. All is well.
Change of Plans
My first disappointment that morning had come much earlier. Awaking at six o’clock and quietly putting my fish duds on, I had slipped into my 14-year-old son’s room to wake him for the trip.
Robert’s summer vacation had just started, and he had agreed to accompany me. I intended an early live-lining foray for the big stripers that usually hang out in our area the first part of the summer. When I shook him to get him started, however, he’d had second thoughts.
Mumbling his apologies, Rob explained that he had had trouble sleeping so had played a video game for a while in the middle of the night. Unfortunately “a while” turned out to be four hours. He couldn’t wake up.
Trying not to think too poorly of his generation, I called on my backup partner.
Luckily, Sophie, our German shorthair pup, stays constantly prepared; when she saw me pick up her water dish and add it to the gear, her attitude indicator spun like the prop on an outboard.
Now sitting in the bow and absorbed in watching, Sophie listened carefully as I explained to her the intricate adjustments I had made in my lure presentation to entice just this size fish into striking. A fine conversationalist, she vigorously wagged her approval.
I continued to target the area and in 15 minutes secured a half-dozen more similarly sized perch. Success at last.
Twenty minutes later, Sophie and I were on a steep channel edge with one of those lively perch swimming on down to the level of the fish I had just marked on the sonar. It wasn’t 30 seconds before my line moved forcefully out. A striper had encountered what it thought was a free lunch.
Luck turned our way. Within a very few minutes a 28-inch fish was on ice, and I was grinning. I swam down another perch, which took about as long to hook as the first. The next one came just as quickly.
I lost a few from my eagerness in striking, but it was of no consequence as my limit was quickly in the cooler. Within less than an hour, I had released the last fish that had eaten the last perch and we were done. There was only one more task to complete.
The Last Intrigue
I casually carried the cooler into the kitchen just as my 14-year-old came downstairs, his eyes bleary with sleep. Mumbling hello he again apologized for not making the trip. I told him not to worry.
It had gone well, I said. Unable to resist his curiosity, he opened the cooler for himself.
“Dad, I’ll go fishing with you tomorrow,” he said.
“Okay,” I answered, “but this time I’m holding you to it.”
“Not a problem,” he said.
As he gazed at the fish, I turned away, hiding my biggest smile of the day.