43-Pound Hooch Striper on the Fly
Joel Daniel of LaGrange landed this 43 pound striped bass on the Chattahoochee River below West Point Lake Sunday morning. She was taken on a 3/0 chartreuse & white deerhair deceiver with a 15-lb tippet on an 8-weight fly rod with a sink-tip line.
The fish shattered the previous lake record (all-tackle) for downstream Bartlett's Ferry Lake of 24 lbs and for West Point Lake upstream (33 lbs., 10 oz). Georgia does not maintain fly rod records but it is quite likely this is the state's largest fly-caught striped bass.
We had been on the water since before daylight and had been catching a good many 4-6 pound stripers and hybrid stripers. The West Point dam upstream has been releasing about 10,000 cfs of water for a couple of weeks and the current had pulled the fish upriver into the shoals. We were drifting a shallow rocky shoal area where the fish were ambushing shad when the big fish ate. She immediately took off and Joel shouted "OH @#$#@!, this is a good one"!
Luckily the fish headed upstream into the fast current and we were able to get below her, making her fight the current and the RPLX rod that was bent to the butt. The river here has many rocks and snags and big fish must be whipped in short order for the angler to have any chance of success. Joel laid the graphite to her and had her coming to the boat within 10-15 minutes. She came to the boat head-on and we couldn't see how big she was. I got one hand on her lip and it was immediately obvious that wouldn't work. As I started to pull her into the boat with both hands, she got longer and longer and longer. And she was fat too.
The scale bounced from 43 to 45 pounds. We were in a hurry to get this phenomenal fish back in the water that we didn't measure length or girth, but the photo tells that story pretty well (that boat deck is 7' wide). She was strong and healthy when we released her.
Congratulations, Joel, on a fantastic fish. It is certainly a lake record for that fishery and probably one of, if not the largest fly-caught stripers ever in Georgia. And just a few pounds short of the IGFA world record.