So I see a couple of tunnel hull boats pull up that somehow made it up those initial shoals with a ton of water coming over them. Then something clicked in my head........STRIPED BASS go nuts when water is released and these guys were there just for this particular event. So I paddle up to the fastest, biggest shute on the spillway that had maybe 4-7ft swells at the bass of the first major shoal after the spillway. I had a prototype 8" bullshad that I am testing and it is a faster sinking bait than the normal slow sink, don't ask to buy them from Bull Shad.com though, he isn't offering lures in heavy sink right now. Well, to shorten this story some I will get back to it. I heaved the 8" bait up into the fastest water out there and all I could do was reel just barely fast enough to keep up with the lure, I wasn't actually swimming it back. First cast and WHAM!!!! My rod almost is ripped out of my hands and then what looked to be a 30lb striper came to the top and instantly came off. Meanwhile the fellas in the boats hadn't hooked anything yet, and who says you can't catch big striper on artificial baits?
So next cast to the exact same spot and this time when I set the hook I know it's into something special. The fish immediately tore off down river turning my yak and peeling line. Funny side not, my wife actually asked did I need the net and it's one of those smallest you can get bass nets...so I just crack up and say, "You won't fit any part of this fish in that net, try and hook you one!!" Then I had to get serious because I was fighting a fish so big that it just easily peeled 25lb Trik Fish Camo mono off a Shimano Corsair even when I tightened down on the drag. At one point, maybe five minutes into the fight, the fish was at least 125yrds away from my kayak. At this point I still haven't even seen the fish and I have floated down out of the crazy super fast water down to just crazy fast water. There was one major tree laying out in the middle of the river that even with the high water you could still see one limb. The bass made a run for that and this is when I finally just pinned the spool with my thumb and began to turn the fish. It worked as I had made the fish come to the surface and turn directions, so it began running back the other way across the river. I felt a little better at this point because I could fight the fish in an open deeper area.
After, what I would say was a solid 5-10 minutes, the fish begins to tire and makes two more short 20-30 yard runs. I then get it right beside my kayak and notice that only one prong of the back treble hook is barely still stuck in the outside of the gill plate. One small head shake, one more run, or maybe a slight breeze and this fish would have been gone. Big dilemma at point since my Bogo Grips where still back home on my Coosa and I had to somehow lip this fish without pulling that last prong out. I couldn't get it's head close enough with my left hand using the pole while I reached out with my right hand so I finally grabbed the line, pulled the fish a little closer and shoved my thumb into this River Monster's mouth. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! YEEEEEAAAHHH BBBBOOOYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" ----came out of my mouth as I stood up trying to figure out what to do with this beast since I still had no fish grips or even a stringer at this point. Luckily though Rachael was able to pull up just in time for me to hook the fish to her grips so we could get it to land and take a few pics and try to get a length....lol 30" board didn't help with this fish, needed a bigger one. The fish would have easily gone 15-17" past the end of the 30" board. The adrenaline rush from that sleigh ride was the hardest I think my adrenaline has ever flowed and was a high like no other.
This is when I first lipped the beast and was trying to figure out what I was going to do.
I never got a true weight on the fish but my guess was between 35-40lbs as I could barely hold it with one hand, heck I could barely hold it with two. Was quite and experience and the ride back down those initial shoals was pretty whicked....fun that is!