Monday, January 22, 2018

Heartbreak at El Capitan

Fishing Time: 2:30 PM to 5:20 PM
Weather:  Sunny, calm, T-68
Moon Phase: 27% Moon
Location: El Capitan Reservoir (near dam)
Best Bait:  Live shiner fished shallow 3-5 ft of water
Who Went:  Dunc

I start work at 4:30 AM every day at Naval Base San Diego, so most days I’m off by early afternoon.  I’m usually pretty beat and go straight home, but today I decided to head up to El Capitan to enjoy the solitude and sunset.  I left the float tube in the trunk and hiked down to a spot where there are submerged boulders and trees.
I was casting a live shiner underneath a slip bobber and varied the depth from 3 to 15 ft.  Nothing was doing and I didn’t get a bite for over an hour.  It was still nice to sit (not in a float tube) and enjoy the time alone.  Worst part about California is all the people.  There is nowhere to hide, but tonight I didn’t see another soul.  Amazing how beautiful California is, but it kind of goes unnoticed with all the people buzzing around.  Can’t focus on its beauty.  I even had a coyote across the lake talking to me most the night.  Very cool.
I tried another point with more submerged boulders and trees and started casting the shiner in shallower water (3-5 ft), and a funny thing happened.  Many times, while fishing in the past I have been lucky enough to experience the hot bite that happens just before a storm moves in.  Usually it only lasts a short while and for whatever reason it’s when I’ve caught many of my biggest fish.  There were no storms tonight, but for some reason, as soon as the sun went down over the mountainside, the bite was on.  It started with me landing a nice 3.5-pound bass.
Shortly after I had another good take and set the hook on what felt like another good bass, but it only lasted a second as the hook and shiner flew back at my face.  Dang it.  Another quick cast and the bobber was down again.  I set the hook and knew I had a good fish on.  I weaved it through the sunken trees and was lucky enough to land this nice 5-pound bass.  Finally, a real Cali Bass!
It didn’t end there either, and this is where the story goes from awesome to heartbreaking.  I casted again and watched as my shiner floated through the trees following the shiners movements as it swam toward an underwater boulder right in front of me.  The shiner was only 3 ft below the bobber and just out of my sight.  Suddenly out from the rock came a bruiser largemouth in the 6-8-pound class (best guess).  It grabbed the shiner, and rolled about a foot below the water showing me a perfect side profile of all her glory.  She was huge!  Immediately she headed towards the base of a submerged tree.  My heart pounding, I pulled back and set the hook, then realized I was in trouble if she made it to the tree.  I leaned on her to try and change her direction and pop, off she came.  What the #@&%!

I sat in disbelief over what had just happened.  This was my chance at a wall hanger and blew it.  Hind sight is 20/20 so I sat to think… I should have re-tied my line, there were probably abrasions from previous fishing.  My drag was too tight.  I should have let her go to the tree and taken my chances.  Ugh.  Doesn’t matter now.  She’s gone.  

I kept casting, but the moment had passed.  I didn’t get another bite.  In total, the hot bite lasted about 20 minutes.  No bites before, and no bites after.  Those are moments to cherish in fishing, and sometimes you have to let the past go and move on.  With any luck I can catch another big fish to help me forget.  This one will live long in the memory bank, but still an epic evening of fishing, solitude, and sunset at El Capitan.

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