Return of the Jedi…

Princess Leia & Hybrid Bass

Princess Leia & Hybrid Bass

Well, you folks already know about Monday night, where my wonderful husband, Steve, just totally blew me out of the water fishing…  Yes, your Diva’s ego was pummelled as 4 hours of fishing left Steve with 7 really nice fish — 3 Stripers, 3 Hybrids and 1 walleye…  Do you think he was gloating a little bit???  Yes, he certainly was…  That’s why I called my last blog “The Empire Strikes Back”.

But, if you remember Star Wars, there was hope for the Galaxy even after Darth Vader’s return to power…  and the next part of the Star Wars story was “Return of the Jedi”.  Well, guess what?

The White River Trout Diva made her comeback on Wednesday night, taking her Light Saber and puttin’ Lord Vader in his place!

(OK, it was actually a 7′ medium wt Falcon rod with Shimano Spirex reel with a rear fighting drag, not a light saber…  But this IS a fishin’ story, after all!)

Lord Vader and Trout Diva took along friend and river guide, Dale, who we’ll refer to as Han Solo in this blog, for some fine company…  We set out of the public ramp around 5:30 pm on April 15th.  It was a little warmer today, probably 65 degrees when we left the ramp.  There was almost no breeze at all, and the sky was only partly overcast.  We headed toward the same couple of coves where Lord Vader had stomped Trout Diva Monday night, and set up to fish there…

However, unbeknownst to the Dark Lord, the White River Trout Diva had been practicing summoning the Light Side of the Force!

Diva started out with her 6′ 6″ Falcon medium-heavy rod with an orange/brown crayfish colored Shad rap crankbait.  They don’t swim particularly deep, but deeper than your average stickbait, and you use a medium-slow retrieve.  Dale was using a Mighty Minnow, and Lord Vader was using a soft plastic jerk bait, shad colored on his bait casting rig.

And the battle for domination of the Galaxy was back on…

Han Solo successfully channelled the Force, as he took the first fish of the evening, a nice smallmouth, with his Mighty Minnow.  We continued down the bank and the next fish belonged to Lord Vader, a smaller hybrid.  Your Trout Diva was getting nervous again…  Where was the Force when she needed it???  Before dark, Diva had missed 3 fish.  It looked as though Lord Vader’s reign of fishing terror would continue…

We switched to our “after dark” setups…  We all were using stickbaits now, in Fire Tiger or similar patterns.  Had my 7′ medium Falcon rod with the Shimano spirex reel and that oh-so-handy rear fighting drag.

(Ever wonder what the difference is between a stickbait and a crankbait?  All stickbaits are crankbaits, but not vice-versa…  To be specific, an artificial minnow or crawfish imitating bait with a large, diving lip that causes the bait to dive deep when you reel it in is a crankbait.  A stickbait usually refers to to a skinnier minnow-looking lure with a smaller diving lip that goes to 3 to 4 feet deep on retrieve.)

The next fish on was Han Solo’s…  It hit close to the boat, so I said without even being able to see it, “It’s a walleye!”  (I’d learned from our guide Monday night that if you get  something that close to the boat, that 9 out of 10 times it will be…)  Lord Vader and Han were impressed with my use of the Force.  But still, no fish for the Trout Diva…

Lord Vader caught a nice Striper, and a Hybrid.  Nothing as big as Monday night, but still respectable fish…  The count at this time???  Han Solo had 1 smallmouth and 1 walleye, and Lord Vader had 2 Hybrids and 1 Striper.

And your Diva???  ZIP…  NADA…  ZILCH…  Even Han Solo mentioned that he was beginning to lose faith in the Light Side of the Force, and wondered where Diva’s fish where…  Diva was having some of the same thoughts…

Feeling the Force trying to work with me, I kept telling Lord Vader to take the boat up toward the point, as the Force was leading me there…  after some “discussion”, Lord Vader DID go in that general direction.  Points on the edges of the coves are often a good place to begin your search for big fish, and I was sure if we headed that way, we’d get into something…  We were almost to the point when Steve caught the his 4th fish of the evening, another Striper, I might add…

This might be a good place to mention the difference between a Striper and a Hybrid…  A Hybrid is a cross between a male White Bass and a female Striper.  Genetically engineered for our fishing pleasure and stocked by the mad scientists at AGFC, they’re more agressive than Stripers, and great fighters!  The Hybrid is in between the size of the White Bass and the Striper, and interestingly enough, can tolerate warmer water temperatures than either species.  Great sport fish!

(Sometimes you hear these interchangeable terms:  Striper = Striped Bass, and Hybrid = Hybrid Bass = Wiper = Palmetto Bass; just different terms for the same fish.)

The world record Hybrid Bass was caught in Arkansas, of course, and weighed 27 lb.  Folks were so sure there couldn’t possibly be a Hybrid so large, AGFC did genetic testing before declaring it the record fish!  The AGFC had a great article in the March/April 2008 Edition of Arkansas Wildlife Magazine, and I’m quoting some of the information I’m giving you from this article.

Anyway, back to the fishin’ story…

I was in about 20′ of water, with water temp 53 degrees, comin’ up on that point I was tellin’ you about.  I could feel the Force as I slung that Fire Tiger as far as I could cast — straight across the edge of the point and started my retrieve.  SLAM!  No mistaking THAT disturbance in the Force!  It didn’t take long to figure out that it was a good one, too…  This fish put up one great fight!  My drag was set fairly tight, and that fish smoked it out at least 5 or 6 times before I could finally get it to the boat.  Of course, it was the largest fish of the night, bigger than even Lord Vader’s Striper.  Han Solo was my net man…

(You know, I have to mention that Han would have caught a lot more fish if he hadn’t been stuck in the middle of the boat…  You know why?  The one in the middle always gets “net duty”.  He was a great sport about it, though!  Next time, Diva will take the middle seat…  really…  What did you say?  Oh, yes, I will!  Seriously…  I mean it…  really!)

White River Trout Diva was BACK!  Lord Vader was hoping it was a Striper, so it wouldn’t be as big, relatively speaking, but soon realized he’d been outdone…  Diva tries not to gloat too obnoxiously with her 9 lb Hybrid — don’t know if that attempt was successful or not…  OK, I do know…  I was gloating pretty bad!

Between the several fish we’d caught in the vicinity, and a boat that came through, whatever may have been left was probably spooked, so Lord Vader fired up the Death Star and warped down to the end of the cove, near a small waterfall that fed into the lake.  (Yes, it was pitch black, but the Death Star has a Humminbird, so we were relatively sure not to run up on asteroids — or the bank, for that matter.)

Your Diva had another strike relatively close — it swam straight at the boat after I horsed on it for a second…  Diva knew this one had to be a walleye.  It was a nice one, too!  But man, do they ever have the nastiest, evil teeth!  I think that thing wanted to eat my face!!!  Biggest walleye of the night, too.  Did I mention Lord Vader had no walleye?

Trout Diva with Walleye

Trout Diva with Walleye

What’s that fish count NOW, Lord Vader?  Doesn’t much matter, since both the biggest ones of the evening belong to the Trout Diva!  Movin’ on…

And speaking of big ones…  We all missed fish that night — not sure how many…  But, shortly after that walleye…  I’m not kidding…  I had something hit my lure so hard as it came to the surface that it sounded like a huge bear doing a cannonball off the bank into the water, and almost yanked the rod out of my hand — it was THAT loud!  So loud in fact, and so close (maybe 30-35 ft away) I almost fell off my chair and out of the boat — Han Solo nearly did, too!  In that same split-second, Han and Diva both sputtered out the same colorful adjective!  I believe we both said, “WOW”…  yeah, that was the adjective…

Diva, however, was simultaneously doing several things as she was being scared out of her mind.  Shouting an adjective, falling out of her chair from the sheer terror, and yes, still trying to set the hook!  I had that monster on for about 10 seconds, but didn’t get a hookset into it…  (difficult to do when one’s heart has stopped, and one is falling out of the chair, thank you very much!)

And it got off…  Trout Diva whimpered…  but then remembered she was still the victor for the evening…

It was about 11:00 PM.  Time to go home…  Oh yeah, I lost my lucky Fire Tiger on the last cast into the ONLY snaggle of tree root/stumps on the entire stretch of the bank.  Then, it was time to go home…  I don’t think you could have made me leave any other way…

As I packed away my Light Saber, basking in the glory of my return to power, I reflected on the evening…  Yes, it was truly “Return of the Jedi”, my friends…

Your White River Trout Diva

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