The Great Schoolie Fishing Continues

What a difference from last year.  I'm really getting it dialed in, and it's been very rewarding.  I landed 61 bass last night.  It was every cast fishing from about 11pm-2am.  50% of the fish were between 20-24", 25% less than 20", 25% over 24", with 4 keepers size or better.  No monsters, but a lot of fun!  My hands are destroyed from lipping all these little bass...

Yes, catching 60+ fish was pretty fun.  But one of the highlights of the night came before I even got started.  I'm at the car suiting up, it's about 9PM, and this troop of fisherman come out to where I'm parked.  Never seen any of them before.  I'm standing there, in my spandex undershorts, pulling on my wetsuit.  They're all chatty, and bragging to each other about this that and the other thing, and there's about 6 of them.  Turns out, one was a lady, and she comes walking right over to the car next to me.  She's got what looks like a decent fly rod, and waders on.  And a small, wimpy looking rod with a swim shad on it.  I pull on my suit quick, but she's got her million candle power light on my blinding me.

"How's it going?" she says.
"Good", I'm not in the mood to chat, I'm in a hurry to get out there and not miss the outgoing tide.
She stands there, staring at me.  I just keep going.
"What are you up to?" she finally asks, keeping her light on me.
"Fishing!" I say, trying to act jovial but really getting annoyed with her mega-light.
"What kind of fishing?" she says.
"Really?", I think.  But I say "Stripahs!".
She pauses, and goes "In a wet-suit?" emphasizing the wet suit part like it's a curse word, clearly unimpressed.
"Yes ma'am" is all I reply, but in an equally irritated sounding tone.  I wanted to say, "why the f$#@ are you leaving when it's just getting dark, on the best stage of the tide?"  but I just wanted to avoid them asking me anymore questions.
She doesn't reply back, and turns back to her buddies, finally getting that blasted light off me.  She did not look impressed.

So they're chatting and talking, and I'm rushing to get out of there now.  They are talking about the couple fish they caught, all small, and just doing what fisherman do- swap stories.

Small keeper
Finally I'm ready and I start power walking away from them, and I can just feel them staring.  One guy says good luck, and I say thanks.  The older gentleman says "good luck buddy, they're out there, go get em'!" in a "atta boy" sort of way.  I reply "Alright!", and walk away even faster.

Oh, if they only knew what they walked away from.

It started slow enough, using my new color of SP I was having a slow pick of schoolies and 1 small keeper (SP is purple up top, silver flash sides, black underneath).  I think I landed 8 fish in the first hour or so.  As I progressed down the shore, I could hear fish, or something, breaking the surface everywhere, and every once in a while a really big splash that would make me jump.  And often, this was all happening right at my feet, or even behind me (good thing I had my wetsuit on so I could get out there hahaha!).

And then, I could see shadows all around me.  I HATE turning on my light, but I had to see.  Where these herring?  Where they shad?  I drop the red filter from my light, and turn it on high.

My jaw just about drops.

100's of schoolies, some in the keeper range, are all around me.  I mean, everywhere.  I quickly snap off my light, and instantly start to think what the hell could be happening.

Sand eels.  It's got to be.  Or spearing?  Or just migration?  Either way, I need to figure this out ASAP.

Luckily I had packed a small 7" sluggo in my side arm bag (my bag where all my emergency plugs go).  First cast, 25" fish.

From that point, it was fish every cast for 3 hours.  After the 7" sluggo got destroyed, I switched to a 9".  That was lost eventually, and I switched to a 10" "rainbow bunker" hogy.  That got lost as well after a dozen or so fish.  I put on a white 9" sluggo, and that only lasted about 5 fish before it was snapped in half.  I put on my last hogy, and eventually that got split as well.  I landed a couple fish around 12", and a couple fish over 28", and every size in between.  Mostly in the 20-24" range, with a bunch of 25-26" fish mixed in.

Long story short, I went through about 7 sluggos/hogy baits.  They would hit dark colors, but really white was a lot better, bringing a hit every cast, even if I didn't land a fish.  Dark colors only got me hits roughly every-other cast.

My camera fell out of my bag, so I snapped this picture of a random small guy
When I got to 50 fish I said I needed to try something else.  I needed to try and cull a larger fish.  So I put on a gibbs metal lip and worked that for almost a 1/2 hour with only a single blow-up on it but no fish.  I tried a big, 14" hogy in black but it was just getting hit and no hook ups.  The surface sounds of schoolies slurping up bait were everywhere, and it was constant.  I switched to the SP again, and landed 3 fish immediately, but the trebles where too much of a PITA, so I eventually went back to a white, 9" sluggo, my last one.  I landed ~7-8 more fish on that.  I thought maybe the tide would die and switch and it would turn everything off, but that never happened.  It really was constant, and there were fish all around me, including behind me.

At 2:30 I started to get pretty tired and the weekend started to take its toll.  I hate leaving fish, but 60 fish is nothing to scoff at.  So I worked my way back down the shore, landing 1 more on the SP before I quit, and getting a few more hits.  The drive home was actually pretty easy, and I was in bed by 4:30.

I was awoke by Carly at 6:50.  Her battery in her car was dead.  I "drunkily" tried to help her, and eventually we got it started.  I went to work late, but man, I am TIRED.

But, already planning....hoping the big girls show up this weekend...my eels are ready...

Until next weekend!