Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My First Murray Trip & Stripers

Move-in week is going on now at the University of South Carolina, which tells me that my first-ever look at Lake Murray occurred around this time of year, 29 years ago.

I'd been on campus less than a week, maybe only a couple of days, when I met a friend who would become a future roommate. We met at an evening function for freshmen, and soon got talking about fishing. Turns out he was from South Carolina, had a boat on campus and knew a fair amount about Lake Murray fishing, including the fact that the striped bass were schooling most mornings.

So well before dark the following morning we met somewhere on campus, I hopped in his truck, and we headed for Lake Murray. We put in well down the lake and rode to the middle of a big cove on the Lexington side, where he told me we would hang tight and watch for fish busting the surface or birds diving. Just to get it out of my system, I made a couple of casts with one of his rods, each of which was rigged tandem with a chugger and light hair jig. Then I put it down and waited, as he had suggested, in case we needed to make a quick run.

That morning marked the first and last time a striper school has ever come up all around a boat I was in. We didn't have to run anywhere, because fish were busting bait on top in every direction around us. I learned that day (and I've since confirmed several times) that schooling stripers make me forget how to cast a baitcaster.

I missed a couple of hard strikes before hooking up, and we each wrestled a fish from the school before it went down. Details elude me now, but I believe it was true double. Both fish weighed 5 or 6 pounds, although I thought mine weighed twice that when I was fighting it. I believe a couple other schools come up that morning. I can't remember whether we caught any more fish.

I only know that Lake Murray left me with a very good first impression.

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