Last week early in the week, right before I left for the night, I told Carly this was the first night of the "real season" for me. It was the first night I wasn't scouting; wasn't trying something new. I was fishing a pattern.
That trip, I had a fish my first cast, 6 fish total, and ended the night with a fish that was just over 20lbs. Before the calendar even hit mid-May!
I found fish on Redfins early in the night- but they were all pretty small, maybe 20-25". It took a few hours of patience and lots of hard casting, but ultimately I got the largest fish on a super strike darter swum really, really slowly at the transition of fast and slow water. The fish, while not super long, was super fat! If not so fat, she might have only been 17-18lbs, but instead she tipped over 20lbs! I will not lie- I figured I'd get a few keepers, but even I was a little surprised to get a 20lber this early out in the ocean and not in a river or back water area. More data for what I strongly believe: most of you start fishing too late, and stay too long on the schoolies and backwater areas.
I knew the next night would yield a skunk if I went back- conditions were completely different- and I had fished 6 nights straight so I decided to stay home with Carly.
But I saw another pattern forming as the week progressed. I didn't hold my breath because last year was such a bust, patterns didn't always mean anything.
But, it looked good and you won't know if you don't go! So I make the walk, and get out into some rocks. Within a couple minutes, I started getting hits on a Redfin. But no hookups and the hits were super subtle. So I switched to a sluggo rigged weedless- bingo. In the next 30 minutes I had 5 fish, 4 small and 1 almost keeper sized. I knew then, it was going to be a good night.
And I was right. I moved around and into an area I know really well. First cast I had a good hit and landed a teen bass about 12-13lbs on a sluggo. From that point onwards, it was a hit maybe every 4-5 casts. About 20 minutes in I had my best fish of the night just short of 15lbs. I didn't want to stop to take pictures. I had 5 fish that night over keeper size and all of them were either pushing teens or into low teens. I also had a fair number of schoolies- another 1/2 dozen? Lots of hits too. Things were working out!
The next few nights it stayed solid. The next night I had 8 fish with 3 of them around 11-13lbs. I really tried to sort out through the schoolies- if I had thrown led heads with rubber I'm sure I could have had a dozen schoolies. The night after was even better- and worse. Better because I had about 20 fish, but worse because I lost two solid fish- one was certainly over 20lbs. I had 6 or 7 fish again in the 10-14lb range on sluggos. But then the bite died, and I went hitless for a long time...so I switched to darter and it was CRUSHED by a good fish- I wasn't paying attention and my drag was set lose for the weaker hooks of the sluggos and I ended up losing the fish after a good drag run!
But that wasn't even the best fish. After a few small fish on the darter things cooled off again. So I switched to the damn SP, and had a fish immediately- small, as expected. But the next cast, just as I was pulling it out of the water BANG! The minnow was CRUSHED, and it was like hooking into the bottom. The fish took off and the tail pumps were pretty serious. I couldn't do anything but just hold on. Then the hook just popped! I jumped up and down and swore a lot- and cursed the damn SP.
This is my problem with the SP. I don't think it swims well with 2/0 or bigger hooks. But with 1/0 hooks you have tiny hooks and big fish can get off. I've been playing with in-line VMC hooks but they don't seem strong enough to me. The hunt continues.
I fished through sunrise this day and had my first few schoolies on pencil poppers, which is always fun. But the fish started getting really small and I felt bad after I hooked one in the eye, so I left. My arms are tired!!!
Since I had plenty of fish I decided, for better or worse, to skip the spot and go after something bigger then teen bass and schoolies. I fished a big fish location and shockingly had exactly 0 hits. I was surprised, the conditions looked good, the moon was right.
Something dawned on me though- I don't think I've caught any good fish on the new moon in this location? I need to do some digging in the logs. It doesn't even make any sense, but I swear it's true...
So that was the week. Almost 40 fish, many in the 10-15lb range and a fish over 20lbs. Are you still messing around with schoolies? Might be time to start thinking big fish- after all, as we move into the second half of the month, it's only going to get better.