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2009 was one of the best striper seasons that I have ever encountered in California.  It was an el nino year that caused the waters off the coast to be warmer than usual.  This made fish to appear in good numbers as early as April and the surf was teeming with all kinds of bait from anchovies to sardines.  I recall people catching these sardines in such large quantities that they would smoke them and sell them to willing patrons such as myself.   I think in total I caught over 60 fish that season and to date (in 2013) I have yet to accomplish such a feat.  What’s even more amazing though is that my recent trip to Montauk in the Fall of 2012 may have yielded me close to that number just after 1 week of fishing.  In that one week, it’s safe to say that I had at least 50 fish total.  Yes, I am glutton for stripers in the surf.



Well back to my story.  We had many good nights that year but one particularly stood out from the rest.  I believe it was a July evening.   The fish had been marauding the surfline in large numbers all throughout the coast.   Just about everyone was getting fish.   So many that some became self-proclaimed pro’s who truly believed that the fish they caught was due to their unequivocal skillsets as anglers.   However nothing could be further from the truth.  Today those hundreds of so-called pro’s are nowhere to be found on the surf(day or night) given the futile numbers of stripers that have been showing themselves as of late.   But that night in ’09 was special.  It was me, Eric and Terence.  We had been smashing fish all night on various plugs, but the one plug that produced the most was the lil neck popper.  By 11:00 pm I had already landed about a dozen nice sized stripers from 10 – 15 lbs.  Terence and Eric also got their fair share.  As the tide receded things started to slow down.  While releasing another nice fish I noticed that Eric hooked up again.  I thought to myself damn…these are good times!  I continued to get hits and land several more fish, and yet Eric was still fighting the same fish he had hooked 15 minutes ago.  I stopped and walked over to him and said “Damn bro what the hell did you get into??!!” 


He said whatever he got into has been peeling drag off his reel like nobody’s business.  Soon after Terence also walked over to see what Eric was battling.  As I watched I could hear the drag from his Daiwa Saltiga Game clicking away as if the fight had just commenced.  Finally after about 20 minutes he starts to gain line and we then we hear breaking water somewhere in the distance.   As I continued to watch I see this huge mass making its way to the shoreline.  “That isn’t a fish!” I thought.  It was too big!  At first I thought it was a shark or even a dead body!  I mean the thing was so massive that it could no way be a striper, but it was!  At nearly 50” and who knows how many pounds, that fish dwarfed even the 20 pounders  landed that evening.   The fish inhaled a black and orange lil neck popper.  Eric mesmerized it by slow cranking it along the bottom like an injured sardine.




We were all speechless as we stood in awe over this great behemoth.  Luckily she had just enough strength to make it back in the water.  She swam slowly but she made it out into the calmer water beyond the surf.   Hopefully she survived to fight another day.  Since that evening I haven't seen or heard of any fish in California that would come close in size to that BIG MAMMA.



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