Monumental Fish

Upstate Outdoors
May 19, 2017 - 8:56 am

Every angler has that hallmark  they strive to achieve for a fish to be considered a monument trophy. It might be a 10 pound largemouth bass, a 3 pound crappie or a 25 inch brown trout.

As a newbie striped bass fan, I had always dreamed of catching a fish that would break the 30 pound mark. I first started fishing for striped bass on my own in early 1990. Prior to that time, I thought of line siders as a night time quarry to be sought while fishing under bridge overpasses.

The one striper fishing tool that captured my fascination and eventually led to my achievement of a monumental catch in the striped bass category was a planer board. I was introduced to the striped bass version that was used to tow live herring out to the side of the boat while trolling with an electric motor at an angler conference put on by The Greenville Striper Kings.

After several years of accumulating and learning to use the planer board and other required gear and tackle associated with striper fishing – namely rod holder placement, bait tank usage, trolling motor application and of course tackle size and selection, I became fairly proficient at pulling planer boards behind my small 15 foot aluminum john boat in concentrated areas of Lake Hartwell.

One particularly successful spring, I began reading about the bigger striped bass that were showing up in Lake Russell. With no specific destination in mind, I interpolated by taking one of my favorite fishing spots on Hartwell – 18 Mile Creek, and looking for a similar location on Russell, which I deemed was Speed Creek.

I spent the next day pulling planer boards and retying broken lines from trolling through all of the submerged timber in Lake Russell, a factor I had not considered. After a frustrating morning, while making a large and sweeping turn at the junction of Speed Creek and the larger Rocky River, I was debating making another fishless troll into the creek or call it a day and go back to Lake Hartwell when yet another tree grabbed the line.

Before I got the rod out of the holder, the “tree” swam around the front of the boat with my hooked live herring in it’s mouth. The mess that was created when 5 lines tangle under the boat which eventually performed three complete revolutions before I got the as-yet- unseen fish into open water, was a complete nightmare. 

When I finally caught a glimpse of the 46 inch monster in the green water, I could hardly believe my eyes. The story also includes the typically close call at the boat when the line wrapped around the fish’s back while I could see the hook hanging from only the thin skin inside the fish’s mouth.

The icing on the story is that the landing net barely contained the fish in the mesh and the handle snapped off when I tried to lift the fish from the water, requiring me to grab the rim of the net with both hands and haul the fish over the side of the boat like a commercial netter.

So what’d it weigh?

I offered to Marty Young, the owner of Sportsman’s One Stop in Iva as he placed the fish on his certified propane scales, that I hoped the big fish would go thirty. He just grinned when he told me I had that with room to spare. 

A monumental striped bass at 40 pounds on the nose.

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Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. This week’s guest will be members of SCDNR Law Enforcement to recognize Law Enforcement Appreciation Week. Contact Gentry at [email protected].

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Every angler has their own idea of a monumental fish. The author’s was this 40 pound striped bass he caught over 20 years ago from Lake Russell.

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