South shore, 8pm-2am. On shore breeze which alternated between light and moderate, with a few strong gusts. Started off rock hopping in my wetsuit through my normal haunts. When I didn’t pick up any fish at my normal spots I started to think the night was going to be a dud. But with the high currents and dark conditions I knew I had to stick it out. Had 1 hit on a riggie early on that I dropped- felt like a tap of a small fish. I then was working a schoolie hole with a damn SP minnow when I got so caught up in the weeds I couldn’t reel my line in. I had to hand line it in, and I thought the line was either going to slice me or break.
Luckily neither happened but I did have to spend at least 10 minutes untangling and de-weeding my line. I moved on from this spot after that.
I arrived at the main event: a rip I have fished many times before. But I was early. I casted for a little while just to keep it honest, before stopping and sitting down to rest a bit, get a drink, and put on my buff (I was chilly). After about 15 minutes I couldn’t sit there anymore and started casting. But I went 30 minutes without a hit.
This spot is very specific, and I’m finding that it really only fishes well about 45 minutes after high to about 1 hour before low. It’s all about current. As the 45 minute window approached, I could see the standing waves setting up from the rip going against the wind.
I said to myself “any minute”. Bam, fish on. Just a 23-24” schoolie, but I knew it was time. I switched to one of my big custom sluggos from A&E custom rods (find them on facebook) and in the next couple casts hooked up with a much better fish. After a nice little drag slipping run, I beached a very fat, feisty, 32-33” fish. Picture quick, and then let her go.
OK, progression time. From SP to big sluggo, now it’s time for a riggie again. I put on the biggest one I had with a custom weight soldered to the shank of the hook, hoping to keep it in the rip longer before it swung out.
I literally just heaved it out there (the thing is 4oz +/-) past the rip, and slowly pulled it back in. When I felt it start to pull, I just stopped reeling and let it swing down. About 5 seconds in, WHAM. Fish on.
Immediately line is dumping from my reel. Good fish, I think. It moves out of the rip, trying to get to deeper water, and when it does I start to make progress pulling it back towards myself and the rip. Every 30 feet I get back, she takes 10. Once she even took about 30 back. At this point, I’m thinking this is a 30# fish, and I’m spewing excited profanity as she’s taking line. Finally after a good 2-3 minute long fight, nervous about my 30lb leader and the large rocks around me, I back up pulling her onto the small stones.
Well, she isn’t 30 that’s clear immediately. I’m thinking maybe 37”? I lay her down and reach for my tape…it’s gone. Damn it! That’s the second one this season. I lay my rod against her, snap a picture and make a mental note, and quickly get the big girl back in the water. I revive her for a few seconds and she’s fighting the fish grips immediately. I try to use my new “selfy stick” to get a picture of us but can’t get it figured out and start to feel bad for her even though she’s still in the water attached to me via the retractors and the fish grips. So I just let her go.
Later, I measured my rod and the smallest she was, was 39” and was pushing 40”. So a nice, fat, 25# fish.After I let her go, I got my line and eel all straightened out again from me laying it down in excitement and getting it caught on my leg, and then kept fishing. I managed a 25-26” schoolie on the eel in the next 5 casts, and then fished another 90 minutes without a bump on anything- finally, I put on the damn SP minnow and landed one more small schoolie. I decided to leave on a good note, happy with a decent fish, and a nice fish, in a spot I’m finally figuring out.