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One of my favorite clients Bill Y. told me on a trip this past August that he was just as happy to have the fast-paced action we were having that day as he was to have caught a big one the previous September trip.

When the time for the annual “Bill, Bill, Billy, and Art” trip came around in September, I wasn’t sure what we were going to find that day. The weather had been kicking up the waves and wasn’t going to allow the area I wanted to fish, to be fished “comfortably,” — we all know I’ll fish in some pretty rough conditions if the fishing justifies it. We set out running down the river to find birds working everywhere at the mouth of the river. We actually took a bit to load up on bait fish, as they were running all over only giving us brief moments of bailing them in the boat, and then having to get on them again. I knew there was a good chance we would need a lot of bait for our 6-hour long trip, so I made sure we’d have plenty — or at least I thought I did.

We headed to the oceanfront to one of my favorite spots, where I knew we would be protected from the waves and nothing seemed to be brewing there. After giving it a good 10 minutes, I decided to have the guys pull 3 lines while we trolled to the next spot. As we turned a corner, Bang, bang, bang! they all get hit and missed. I stopped the boat and we threw a new bait out. While I’m getting the next one ready, the new bait is already hooked up to a fish. I wasn’t sure if we’d stay in this spot yet, but as the fish was coming up to the net, a few hundred striped bass followed him right up to the boat. I hit the spot lock and the guys proceeded to go virtually nonstop, one after another until there was no bait left. Now, this left us in a predicament. We had a few hours to go until we were supposed to be in.

Do we go out and catch more bait, or do we call it a day? There’s always a chance by the time we get back the school has left the area. So, I let the guys decide and they were really happy with what we had done. Our wind-protected spot held up for hours of non-stop action and kept us from having to deal with the rough waves that were just around the corner. All in all, it was a very productive day regardless, so that was a wrap on another great late September trip with Bill, Bill, Billy, and Art.

Somewhere in all the mayhem, the fish pictured below managed to grab two baits like our previous “Two for One Special” from 2021. Absolutely amazing this fish managed to track down two mackerel before any of his competing schoolmates were able to. The fish was landed by Bill and Bill.

A New Type of Trip

In the last few years, there’s a good chance you have heard me say “I only like two types of trips, good ones, and great ones.”

To me, a good trip is when we have fairly consistent action throughout and everyone lands at least one fish. Great trips are when we have hot action start to finish with high numbers, or we get into some of the larger fish that will set new personal bests.
After my 2022 season, even those descriptions would not suffice to describe some of the trips. There were a handful of trips that can only be described as EPIC. It didn’t take long into the live bait season to produce the first and second epics back to back.

On trip one for the day, I had a star angler back for his second outing. Ben in his 2021 trip landed a 39″ striper on his first cast. In 2022, Ben and Kevin brought along Ellen.

We got off to a hot start with mackerel practically jumping into the boat. A bunch of stripers in the first few minutes helped keep the action going. As soon as we could access an area, we moved, and Ellen’s line takes off. The fish took well over 100 yards of line, stopping just short of a channel marker. Once landed, we got a few quick pictures and a measure of 40″ with a healthy release.

I was thinking, “Well, wasn’t that nice Ben let his mom catch the big one this time.” We got set back up, and not five minutes later, Ben hooks one up that is just screaming toward the same channel marker. Ben again did a great job of fighting a big fish with great technique, landing a 45″ monster. I say 45″, but the scale on the boat only goes to 40″, and the whole tale was past it.

We finished up with more quality fish for the trip before I picked up my second group for the day.

Round two was another group of regulars. I was hoping to repeat the morning outing, but the mackerel had other plans. We went right to where we had caught them in the morning and the last few weeks prior. They weren’t there at all. I figured, no problem, let’s head to the secret ledges where we always find them.

The ledges were a ghost town, not even the resident pollock were not there in any numbers. One hour into the trip and we have hardly anything in the livewell so we headed back to where we started looking to see if they had shown back up. Nope, nada.

While we drifted along trying to come up with a plan, Patrick starts pulling one or two mackerel every few seconds. I ask him “What the heck are you doing?” No one else is catching anything still. He says he’s letting it down for 8 seconds. Heather asks “How deep is that?” I said, “You heard the man drop it for 8 seconds.”

Everyone starts dropping it for 8 seconds, and we start to fill the livewell. Luckily for us, I knew the best part of the tide was going to be our second half anyways.

While I was expecting to find the bigger fish at our last stop, Patrick and Heather didn’t wait, and both pulled ~40″ fish from our first spot. We had had a fantastic trip before we even got to the last spot. Well, it didn’t disappoint – another pair of 40″ fish, a bunch of overslot, and a load of slot fish finished off the second epic trip of the day.

Two for one Special

I’m often asked when is the best time to fish is. The simple answer is while the tide is moving. Morning, afternoon, evening, it doesn’t really matter. On an afternoon tide in August we setup on a beach a little ways from the structure I wanted to fish but with about 2 dozen people swimming in that area we went off to a far corner to setup. The bite wasn’t fast and furious at the time so we got a few lines out with live mackerel and took a seat to enjoy the absolutely perfect weather we had.

All of a sudden the starboard stern rod started screaming I jumped and locked up the bait runner, and the line just kept on going 100mph. I called for the young lady to come take the rod. While I’m trying to hand her the rod and make sure it doesn’t go for a swim the second rod off the stern has it’s line start going 100mph. I tell the boyfriend to grab that rod and reel. He jumps into action and gets it locked up and “fish on.” The first line is still making a good pull of drag on the 6500 class reel it has finally started to slow a bit. Now both of them are doing a great job keeping pressure on their lines and keeping a good bend in the rod, but the lines are heading right at each other. I’m asking them to try to see if they can get their fish to turn direction by leaning the rods away from one another but they are on a crash course for sure. I let them know we are probably going to lose one, possibly both if the braided lines chaff. As I pray to the fishing gods to spare her fish from breaking off the lines converge to a single point and to my surprise neither line breaks. I’m expecting we are going to have to start passing the rods one over the other but I can’t make out which one is above or below. The lines are just moving in unison. After a few more seconds of observing the lines in lockstep and no erratic rod movements, I tell the couple “I think you have the same fish.” They both ask “what do you mean the same fish?” I reply “I think you both are hooked into the same fish.” Sure enough, as the fish gets close enough to see both lines are coming from it’s mouth. They guide it into the net and clear as day line 1 caught just before the esophagus and line 2 was locked onto the lower jaw.

While I have seen a fish take two baits before it was usually with chunk baits sitting on the bottom with a fish moving slowly picking one after another up and then taking off. This was the first time I have seen a fish take a live bait get hooked and continue on to eat a second that was at least 20-30yards away.