Jack is all smiles after landing the biggest fish of the night.
Where: Lake Hopatcong
What: Fishing for hybrid striped bass and catfish with Matt, Jay and Jay's 4 year-old son, Jack
Weather: Partly cloudy to overcast, calm wind to variable at 5mph, a little rain, but storms never came that close, temp was 86 at 5pm and dropped into the mid to low 70's overnight
Barometric Pressure: 29.82in and rose slowly to 20.92in
Relative Humidity: 67% to 96%
Moon: Waxing, a day past the last quarter, 1am moonset (when we had the action)
Water Conditions: Partly stained, surface temps between 78 and 79 degrees
Every so often, a fishing trip comes together perfectly. It happens when you're in the right place at the right time with the right people, using the right bait. The fish bite often and everyone has a blast.
This was one of those trips.
Matt, Jay, Jay's 4 year-old son Jack and I hit Hopatcong on Friday night with a primary target of catfish and a not-too-distant secondary target of hybrid striped bass. Matt and Jay had never seen a hybrid in action before, and I was hoping we would hook at least one so they could witness what they're capable of.
We hooked at least one alright.
After stopping at Dow's Bait and Tackle to get our herring from Laurie, I met the rest of the crew at Lee's and we were fishing by 5:30pm. Daylight produced a couple of crappie, including a big one that made the little guy smile, but the action was nothing compared to what was about to happen after dark.
We made a move into a cove that's known to have hybrids when the sun went down, and after one small adjustment, we anchored in 17-feet of water just off the weedline. A little before midnight, we got our first solid bite. I could tell it was a nice fish and had it right below the boat, but my line broke at hook.
A few minutes later, another hook-up and another nice fight, but the hook popped free. I had a bad feeling that I just blew our only two opportunities of the night, but luckily, I was wrong.
My next bite stayed glued, and after a fight that amazed Matt and Jay, we put our first hybrid in the net. After that, it was pretty much mayhem with the hybrids hitting not only the herring, but the chicken livers that were intended for catfish. At times it was drop and reel fishing with multiple rods going off, multiple hook-ups and everyone running around the boat.
Everyone caught fish, and the little guy had the honor of bringing in the biggest hybrid of the night.
The action eventually subsided, but we added a few white perch and a bunch of small bullheads to the night's catch.
This was truly an awesome trip. Not only was it great to catch some fish, but it was great to see 4 year-old Jack enjoying the outdoors like a seasoned pro. He had his rain jacket on during the showers, fought a big hybrid like a champ and passed-out with honor on a bean bag chair in a sleeping bag at around 1am.
I bet he slept well. The Fish Gods had treated us to a night I won't soon forget.