Getting back to normal part 2 — the salt.

A friend clued me in to a good bite going on last week in the lower Housy. Said it was all about the first few hours of the incoming tide, and told me roughly where in the river the action had been. I wasn’t able to act on it immediately, but did make my way down there on Tuesday afternoon. The tide chart showed low at about 2:15. I normally like to fish early, but I committed to fishing that first half of the incoming window. So I dropped the boat in shortly before 2 pm.

Would have been a little earlier if some bozo didn’t pull in as I was taking the straps off the transom, then proceed to back down the middle of the ramp, crooked no less, and spent the better part of 10 minutes loading his stuff in the boat and unstrapping it, blocking the ramp for those (well, it was just me) who had prepped their boat in the staging area, like you’re supposed to.

Even with the later than planned start, when I got down through all the no-wake zones, the tide was still ripping outbound. Since I wanted to test the intel I’d gotten, I didn’t fish the area on the outgoing tide, and went outside the river to see what I could find until it was time to head back for that hot incoming bite. Didn’t find much of anything for a while. I was still out in Long Island Sound when the tide finally started to come in, about 3:10. Thanks a lot, keepers of the tide chart!

It seemed almost magical that I hooked up within 5 minutes after the tide started to come in.

Caught the first few on a jig and Fin-S Fish, until one got the light braid stuck on my transducer mount and broke off. I’ve been using that mount (or its predecessor) for 8 years. Never had a fish break me off on it before. Went to a jerkbait (Novel 120) and got a handful of schoolies on that.

A solid fish on the big pencil popper. I could have gone home happy if I’d left right then. As it turned out, I’m glad I didn’t!

I hadn’t seen any surface activity, but on a whim, I grabbed the rod I’d rigged with a topwater plug and caught a decent (29″) fish on that pretty quick. Once I get bit on the surface, it’s awfully hard for me to put down the topwater. Continued to fish it, and got a fair number of blowups, but the hooking percentage wasn’t great. Actually, it was atrocious. One in 6 maybe?

Tried to fix the hookup ratio by switching from the pencil popper to an unweighted Slug-Go. More hits, more misses. The ones I did hook though, kept one or the other topwater option in my hand, perhaps more often and longer than they should have been.

Eventually, I went back to the jerkbait. Caught a few, but they weren’t all over it like they had been only an hour earlier. Still seeing cruising pods of fish on the depth sounder, so I wasn’t particularly anxious to go looking elsewhere, but felt like I needed a presentation adjustment.

Finally got around to tying a new jig and Fin-S Fish on the light rod, but they seemed to be having none of it. Switched to a lighter head and fished it faster and closer to the surface, and that seemed to be what they wanted.

Catching them on the jerkbait made me feel like I’d picked up right where I left off in mid-May.

After picking off a few while keeping the soft bait within a foot or two of the surface, I decided to apply the same logic to my jerkbait. I replaced the Novel that works down in the 6 to 8 foot range with a Shimano Flash Boost Silent Assassin that barely gets down 18″. Only took three casts to get hooked up, and we’re talking biggest fish of the day hooked up!

If I’d known how tentatively that 33 incher was hooked, I would have probably played it a lot more gingerly. Actually, once I got it alongside the boat and could clearly see that it had but one tine of the front treble in its lip, I got very cautious with it. A short stop on the measuring board, a quick pic followed by a short revival session, and she swam away looking healthy as ever.

Made another half-dozen casts, and caught a few more schoolies on that Flash Boost plug, but it was already past the time that I’d told my wife I’d be home, so I stowed the gear, ran flat out to the first no-wake zone in the river, then putt-putted back to the ramp and headed for home. Ended up with the two ‘keepers’ (Not that we keep any stripers) and about 30 schoolies, plus quite a few topwater attacks that never got hooked up, but still got the adrenaline flowing. Not a bad mid-summer striper fishing afternoon at all.

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