Thursday, September 20, 2018

Marauders With Fins

       If you know the lakes that harbor white bass and hybrids, I’ll share a secret with you.  But keep this under your hat.  In late September and most all of October, tributaries to those lakes, which are carrying some extra water from fall rains, are often carrying some extra fish… big hybrids.
       A hybrid is a fish which is created by hatchery manipulation, released into certain lakes as fingerlings or a little larger.  They are the result of a cross between female stripers and male white bass. They lack the ability to reproduce. In most waters where I fish for them, they average under ten pounds but not by much.  In most lower Midwestern waters where they are stocked they seem to get to twelve and fifteen pounds on occasion and though I never caught one larger, they can make it to 20 pounds.

       I think they are more aggressive and easier to catch than stripers are. Perhaps they get that from white bass genetics. Wherever it comes from, I like it. But last year up a river tributary I lost about forty dollars worth of lures because of it. As best as I can remember I motored up to a swiftly flowing shoal with a friend of mine and let my boat drift with it. I figured it was a good spot for a Kentucky bass or a white bass. I handed my partner one of my spinning outfits with a topwater lure on it and he hadn’t reeled it two feet before it was just sucked under, a broad white side flashing beneath it.

       It isn’t often that you hook a six- or seven-pound fish on your first cast. And it is hard to boat one that size when you have no dip-net, which is the only thing I had forgotten to put in the boat! But somehow my partner got him into the live-well, and about ten minutes later casting a buzz-bait with my casting reel, I hooked a similar hybrid.
       A fish that size in any kind of current is nothing but a rod-bending enjoyment that brings a tremendous amount of satisfaction, no matter what your troubles might be.  My troubles were just beginning.  The hefty hybrid got off right beside the boat.  But I caught another one right away and that one broke my line. I had lost the first lure. 

       My partner lost the next lure on a fish that was better than ten pounds or water ain’t wet, and he complained that the twelve-pound line I had was no match for what had engulfed that topwater redfin lure.

     It is usually the case that twelve-pound line will land about any hybrid, if you can just let him pull out line against the drag and pull your boat downstream, but where we were there were big rocks and a few logs in the current and you had to try to horse the fish out away from the obstacles.  It just doesn’t work with line that light in a current that strong.

       My fishing partner and I hooked better than twenty of those fish in a three-hour period.  I think we put only three more in the live-well.  Several just fought so hard we couldn’t keep hooks in ‘em, but I think five or six broke our line and took some good lures with them, red-fins, spooks and buzz-baits, maybe a total of 30 or 40 dollars worth of lures.  That was the first day of October as I recall, and those hybrids were up that river well into November. 

       But I fixed up a couple of reels with 20-pound line and never lost another lure.  But I guess I should confess that when I went after them again I fished three hours without getting a strike.  Water conditions weren’t right at that time, and though they were still there, they just weren’t hungry, or mad, or whatever it is that makes them attack like wolves. 

       But what you ought to hear about is that trip I will make in early October this year, when my stronger line and determination to get revenge is gonna be the demise of the ones who took my lures last fall!

       Outdoor note:  Anyone who hunts deer or elk or eats venison, needs to learn a great deal about the disease we call ‘chronic wasting disease’.  That term should be abandoned.   The disease is accurately called TSE, short for Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy.
       Learn all you can about it. I suggest that you watch a film of an interview with one of a top biologist who has been studying the disease.  I watched it and what I learned really worries me.  It can be found on the computer at… or  You need to see this folks!
       To contact me, write to Box 22 Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or email…

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