by Holden Stern

There’s nothing more unnerving than hooking into a big fish with an underpowered rod and reel. From hook-set to landing, the experience is sure to get any angler’s blood pumping.

Today I caught a 28+ inch keeper striped bass on 4lb test.

Every time I fish this spot, it’s potluck fishing. Sometimes largemouth bass, sometimes shad, and sometimes small stripers. Lure of choice was a small 3.5in zoom fluke with a weighted jig head. As I tossed the offering into the fast-flowing river, BOOM, fish on. I’d like to note here how addicting an initial striper hit can be. I was underprepared to fight this fish.

As I worked the fish against the current with my 4lb test and drag as loose as I could safely have it, she turned her head and broke the line clean off with my zoom fluke.

Cast after cast, I was getting hard hits from nice sized fish, but I couldn’t manage a solid hook set with such light line and drag. That is until I found a hungry striper willing to engulf my offering. And so began the adrenaline pump.

From the moment I hooked her, I knew I had a decent sized fish, and I knew I was going to have a hell of a time trying to bring her to land. Finesse was key here, knowing that any wrong move could set this fish free. I carefully kept tension on the line as she took off with my line and drag spinning frantically down river. After the 3rd hard run I was gaining real estate on the fish and saw her stripes.

Within arms reach, I dove in to grab the fish by the mouth and dragged her to shore. A keeper!

First striper of the season and a hell of a fight that ended in victory. Fish was safely released.