Relatively warm, mild temperatures allowed us to brave the open water boat ride to the back of Last Chance. We were trying to duplicate Rob McCain’s fish reports from last week indicating a large school of stripers in 50 foot deep water between the last two canyons before the water ends. Full moon had me nervous that the boat ride may be the best part of the trip but we went anyway.
We started at the last canyon mouth on the left hand side and trolled toward the back of Last Chance while graphing for stripers schools. We found no schools on the graph and caught no fish trolling. We retraced our steps to the mouth of the left hand canyon and trolled across the bay headed directly toward the last canyon on the right hand side. We should have done that first because we trolled up a small striper within a hundred yards. I watched the graph as the small fish was reeled in and saw a few marks appear on the bottom. I dropped a spoon, jigged it twice and hooked a 3 pound striper. While that fish was reeled in the graph lit up like a neon sign with LED lights. Stripers came from far and near to see what that commotion was that made their lateral line tingle with excitement as the vibration of a feeding fish was felt by all.
Chartreuse Shad XD 100 Pointer
1.5 ounce spoon
Calm seas allowed us to hover over the school for the next hour. We filled the large cooler half full of fish on the first drift. The school was visible on the graph the whole time. With that many fish below us I expected to catch over 100 fish but they were a bit shy. Back at the fish cleaning station we found very few shad in the stomachs so their reluctance was a result of a lack of shad schools or at least separation from shad at the present time. It was hard to complain as we put over 30 fish in the cooler in the first hour. I just have hgih expectations and great memories of previous spooning events where fish in this situation would hit every time the spoon came in view. This school had to be coaxed by holding the spoon still, or letting it rest on the bottom, quickly speed reeling, and then drop to the bottom again. We worked our spoons quickly and caught a large number of fish in a short time.
Next I wanted to know if there were stripers in the back of the right hand fork which is one our favorite spring time striper spots. We trolled the shoreline without success until we reached the 25 foot depth in the back of the canyon. We were trolling Lucky Craft XD pointers and Bevy Shad in Chartreuse shad colors. I switched to the Ghost color and immediately started to hook stripers. I find that when shad are plentiful the chartreuse shad color is best but when shad are scarce the ghost color works best. We spooned when the school came under the boat and caught stripers trolling spooning and casting in the back where water depth was 18-25 feet.
We had a great day with warm mild weather and a large body count. We filleted 55 fish back at the fish cleaning station. A few of the stripers caught in shallower water were thin, while all of the deep fish caught on spoons were fat and healthy. That is a common pattern now as slower adults tend to roam into shallower water looking for food while the next size smaller fish are fat and healthy. They can survive on plankton in open water while waiting for shad to spawn next spring.