I received my new Predator XL Minn Kota late in the day on Friday with just enough time to unwrap it, register it, and get a couple of Scotty rod holder mounts installed before losing daylight. With daylight waning I headed inside to mount my Sonarphone SP200 T-BOX to the Minn Kota Console.
I have been using the SP100 T-POD for a couple of years, but I was really looking forward to being able to use the Navionics Boating app in a split-screen mode and the dual-beam skimmer-style transducer. Installing the SP200 was made easy by the removable mounting plates on the top and bottom of the motor console. The only change I needed to make was to enlarge the hole that went from the transducer wire tunnel into the console to accommodate the plug end of the SP200. In anticipation of receiving her I purchased a new 160 minute deep cycle marine battery at my local warehouse store and had it charged and ready to go.
My plan was to head out just after first light the next morning so I could get used to the set up before my friend Chuck arrived, and hopefully find a few striped bass to cast at. I realized in minutes that there was little to get used to, except not having to paddle. I immediately found myself accomplishing tasks on my way to the fishing spot that I normally had to make time for, usually before launching or after arriving at my fishing spot. This left me feeling more prepared and less rushed.
I launched and made my way across New Hampshire's Little Bay to an area with submerged structure that almost always holds fish when the current is running. It was about an hour past low tide and I was expecting to see fish when I turned on my iPad. I quickly noticed that I was able to position myself over the structure in heavy current and, using the motor and foot pedals, hold myself in place to get a good look at my fish finder. Sure enough, the fish were beginning to set up on the structure.
I dropped a Daddy Mac Lures 1.4 Elite Deluxe to the bottom, reeled up two cranks, and had a bite right away. I set the hook and reeled in what felt like a 28" fish. However, I suspected that the current was playing a big part in how big the fish felt. Sure enough, it was a small 18" schoolie striper. I wasn't complaining though, I just like catching.
Eventually Chuck arrived and joined me. It wasn't long before I turned to see him about a half mile away. The wind and current were in the same direction and Chuck was struggling to stay over the structure we were fishing. He did the best he could to stay over the fish, and I did the best I could not to point out his struggle to stay over the spot, and my lack of.
One of the characteristic signs of striped bass is the presence of diving terns. Some days they just never show up, but today wouldn't be that day. We noticed some terns diving about a half mile away. I cranked up the 45 pound thrust Minn Kota and headed their way. This is where things often get frustrating. I can't count the number of times I have seen diving birds that far away and made my way toward them, only to have them move on or the stripers to go back down before I could get to them. Not today though. I was able to get to the breaking fish in no time and having a smaller profile than most of the boats out there, I didn't spook the fish. For the next three hours I caught fish ranging from 22" - 28" on almost every cast. I caught them on the Daddy Mac 1.4 Elite Deluxe and on 6" paddle tail shads.When the fish moved, I was able to stay with them. Chuck on the other hand was at a clear disadvantage. Since the fish almost always move up current and into the wind, Chuck struggled to get near them and as soon as he got to them and made a cast, the fish moved farther away. I know the feeling and while I sympathized, I wasn't going to let that stop me from putting the hook into more fish.
Eventually we decided to head in. Poor Chuck's arms were smoked from paddling which offered me a great opportunity to try towing another kayak. I tied off to the side of Chuck's kayak in a way that allowed us to quickly and easily detach and towed him all the way back to the launch. It gave him a much needed break, and gave us a great chance to recap the day. I had fished, and fished aggressively, for over 8 hours and my battery still had plenty of juice left.
I have no idea what my total catch for the day was, but it was a lot. My arms felt like rubber and it wasn't from paddling, since I never picked up my paddle. The fish were there, the boat was right for the situation, and the day was a huge success. The stars aligned, and fish were caught. It was just the sort of day every kayak angler dreams about. The only thing lacking was the size of the fish, but that will come...very soon, so stay tuned.
This new kayak is going to be the perfect addition to the Tim Moore Outdoors guide service kayak fleet. It will allow me to get to my clients faster and offer an element of safety and comfort for those who find themselves in need of a tow.