My White Seabass

 By Richard Williams

I woke up to the sound of the alarm on my watch, phone and clock radio all at the same time, 4 am. I wasn’t about to repeat missing an early launch as I had a week earlier with JRD. Fired up the computer to check the swell models for CL and Leo. 4’ to 6’ @ 8 sec. I glanced back at the warm bed I’d just rolled out of. Hmmm. Looks inviting. No! I told myself, go see for yourself. At 5 am I was looking at County Line. It was doable but opted for a more comfortable launch @ Leo. Launched into a perfect window at 5:15 and started my paddle to Deep Hole. On the way I noticed the water was murky and about 4 degrees colder than two weeks earlier. About 5’ of visibility and 60.3 degrees. Not good and my mind drifted back to my warm bed. Just past Harrison’s’ the water had changed to crystal clear but was still cold. As I neared DH I noticed another kayak on the 50’ spot so I turned to wards the 72’.
The reef was clearly defined on the ff and it was also clear that nothing was “holding”. The bait rig, with a whole squid and 1oz slider dropped straight down and stayed vertical. Great no current! Checked the GPS and realized that the low tide change was at 7:30ish. Looked at my watch. It was 7:15. Current should pick up in a bit I thought. I picked up the 7’ Fenwick Crankin’ stick with the Calcutta 250 loaded with fresh 12# and started throwing plastic. While casting I noticed some birds, about a Ľ mile further starting to circle. Ziiiiiiip, the bait rod goes off. Put down the plastic and cranked in a 10” rockfish. After a quick release I re-baited and reset. As I picked up the plastic I noticed the birds are now in Kama Kazi (sp?) mode and small dolphin were slashing the surface. I set the plastic down and started to paddle.

As usual, when chasing diving birds in my kayak, they seemed to be moving in the other direction so I quickened the pace. At this time two small dolphins came alongside as if to encourage me. In between huffs and puffs I sarcastically yelled at them “ well don’t just sit there, go turn ‘em around”.

Five minutes later I catch up with and slide alongside the birds and dolphins. I grab the plastic and let it fly. Perfect cast. Just in front of the thrashing dolphin. I let it sink in free spool. 1,2,3-10. Nothing. As I crank back in I’m thinking as fast as I can. What to do, what to do? IRON! I reach back for the box as I’m biting the line. My heart’s pounding. I start to tie on the first thing I grab a 4’ chrome Yo-Ho jig my dad had purchased at a garage sale in Spokane with the original $1.98 price tag on it. It took several attempts with my 50-year-old eyes and hands.   First a Palomar. No good, missed the loop. Damn! Second attempt same result. The sound of thrashing is moving away. Third attempt, Improved Clinch, success. A fast turn and a few quick strokes and I’m in position. I bring the rod back and let ‘er fly. The yak shudders and the reel backlashes. I looked back to see my jig firmly entangled with my still deployed bait stick. S$^t!! It takes me 10 minutes to untangle the mess and retie. I look up and see nothing but calm, glassy water. I look back over my shoulder and see the dolphin 100 yards back but pushing towards me. I wait, rechecking everything. The dolphin and birds push to within 10 yards. I cast. I count. Nothing. Crank twice and Game On! The first run of about 100 yards fries the drags on the 250. The fish turned and I got about 50 yards back before it ran again. The rod tip was bouncing and drags were sticking so I loosened the star and started helping the line feed out by hand. When the fish stopped I tightened, thumbed, pumped and cranked. This went on for over 40 minutes all the while I was leaning over the sides trying to see what I had. Finally I felt a bump on the bottom of the yak and was startled when a huge White Sea Bass slid out from underneath. I gaffed it and applied the “whoopn’ stick”. It took nearly an hour to stow my gear, secure the fish and paddle back to Leo for a very soggy landing. The FnD seem a bit slower and more nose heavy than usual. What a great outcome for a day of fishing I almost passed on.

Fish weighed 46.7# and taped out at 52”

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