Author: Malibu Jack
Every fisherman knows the pain of going home tired, and empty-handed. Despite their best efforts it seems like the fish just won’t corporate no matter what presentation is tried. They start to question their techniques, and then eventually their spirits start to dwindle. After a while, it seems like working that lure is just a silly exercise, but when a fish finally attacks it's all worth it.
The harbor bite was slow the previous week, and we worked hard for slim pickings of small spotties, but last night the bite totally changed. We arrived an hour before the high tide, set up our gear, and started to work our way down our favorite spots in the harbor. At first, it seemed like the pattern was going to be the same as the other nights; slow with the occasional weak strike that often wasn't able to be capitalized on. After fifteen or so minutes we caught one spotty, and that lifted our spirits tremendously. Then we caught another spotty shortly after, then another. At that point, we knew the conditions had changed, and the bite was on.
All those cold, and late nights spent hunting for them started to pay off. The spotties were not completely wide open, but we were consistently picking at them throughout the night. Eventually, our count rose and rose, and we were very pleased with ourselves, but then the unexpected happened.
I was working a weedless Ned rigged coffee grub under the dock and wasn't really giving it my full attention. Just aimlessly reeling slowly, bouncing it off the structure on the bottom, and then suddenly I got a bite that hit like a freight train. It started to take some line, and then at that point, I realized this was far bigger than the spotties we were previously caught. I fought it for a decent while, then eventually my buddy saw color.
“What the heck, that's a big old sand bass,” he yelled. Shocked, I finished my last couple of cranks and then bounced it over the rail. While a sand bass isn’t necessarily the biggest surprise in the harbor, for this time of year it is, and especially one of any size. This fish taped at 16 inches, which is 2 inches over legal, but we decided to let it live another day, and returned it back so that perhaps another lucky angler can catch it. Bullbuster braid and monofilament were used in the catch of these fish and played an elemental role in making sure each fish stayed hooked.
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