Yap Attack at the Rack

June 21, 2024.  

The winds had been a howling, relentless beast at the lake for the past week, a savage, unpredictable force that gave me the strange luxury of catching up on house chores and accounting. Yesterday, in a fit of idle curiosity, I checked the wind forecasts. I wasn’t expecting a window of calm this weekend, but there it was, a tiny miracle amidst the chaos. I was talking to Tony Yap and asked him if he fancied a last-minute trip. I was gearing up for another easy day like last week, with the pumps on and tens of thousands of stripers swarming around the racks. Today, however, was a different beast entirely.

We rolled up to the lake at 9:00 AM, greeted by a menacing yellow light warning. Vaughn and Tim were parked, wisely not launching, as they watched the whitecaps churned up by the easterly winds. I made a bold, potentially insane decision to charge straight downwind, riding the whitecaps to Las Piedras on the wind-sheltered eastern shore, intending to wait out the storm and head for the racks. As we surfed the furious whitecaps, I slapped a life vest on Tony in case he got ejected from the boat. We gripped the rails with white-knuckled determination, rounding the point, and spotted two other boats at Las Piedras with the same mad idea. After a few desultory casts, I made another reckless decision to cross the lake and hide behind the trash racks, hoping for some semblance of calm to fish in peace.

The ride across the lake was a bone-rattling, teeth-clenching ordeal. I threw out the sonar in perspective mode, hunting for those massive schools of stripers in the upwelling. The whitecaps were merciless, and not a single fish appeared on the radar. The pumps were clearly off. We circled the racks like vultures, and I finally found a lonely school of fish clinging to the north tower wall, 40 to 60 feet down. I knew then that the day would be a brutal grind, a battle to get Tony on fish unless he mastered the bottom jigging retrieve on the dam. We fished the trash racks with zero success and then headed to the dam, casting along the rocks all the way to Monument without a single touch.

After an hour-long Monument Dam run, the winds died, and the lake smoothed out like glass. I decided to give the racks another scan. Sometimes, deep schools of fish move up when the water calms, making them easier to catch. Plus, holding a boat position is far simpler in calmer water—key for a great deep water retrieve. We made the rounds again, but the fishing gods were not smiling on us. By noon, we had nothing to show for our efforts.

We decided to venture to the Bay of Pigs. The bay was a muddy mess, likely churned up by the relentless winds. I pivoted to the dam, where the water was clearer. As we approached the blue water along the dam, I noticed a 20-foot patch of green algae hugging the shoreline. These algae mats always seemed to provide shade and attract baitfish and stripers. I love fishing this with the downhill jigging technique and hoped to show Tony the ropes. We worked the rocks and the dam, and teased 15 nice stripers from the bottom while Tony was still getting skunked. Frustrated, I swapped rods with him, but still, no luck for Tony.

By 3:00 PM, I decided to hit the racks again. We found a school of fish on the north tower that had moved up from 60 feet to around 40, hugging the walls. I made three casts, hooked three fish, and figured I could finally get Tony on one. Tony struggled to get the line down to the fish because of the current created by the turbulence around the tower when the pumps were on. To get him in the zone, I lined him up with the current, right on the edge of the tower, and watched his fly move through the school, coaching his strip and watching the fish work his fly. After getting bit five times in five casts without hooking up, I decided to hit the motor when he started to retrieve, keeping the line tighter. That’s when we finally started hooking fish. We ended the day with keepers up to 8 lbs, and I promised Tony I’d cook some of the fish for dinner.

I cleaned our four fish, and all were empty except for the biggest one, which had a huge shrimp in its stomach. More evidence that the minnows in the lake were missing—no smelt or threadfin. I also believe the stripers were hitting flies out of sheer anger, not hunger, likely spawning and pissed off.

Back at the house, I cooked Tony some Striper Congee. We laughed and reminisced about old friends for hours. I made him some diabetic-friendly, sugarless, fat-free, lactose-free ice cream in the Ninja Creami that blew his mind. It was a great day, a wild ride through chaos and calm, ending in a feast and laughter.

Tony Victorious

Fully Digested Fishing Line,  hook stuck in intestine

Muddy Bay of Pigs

Freshwater Shrimp

2 thoughts on “Yap Attack at the Rack

  1. Hey Meng,

    It was great to see Tony Yap out with you the other day. Glad you were able to get him into some fish. Tony is one of the last of ‘the old timers’ of our old gang. Fun stuff!

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