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Going Savage on Arkansas Stripers at Lake Ouachita (continued)


I was surprised how surgical this style of fishing was, it wasn’t just dunk your bait and turn on your trolling motor. Boards, lines and drags needed to be set perfectly and we each manned a section of the boat while Phill had us constantly making adjustments as we neared points or approached structure of varying depths. Fishing this style with this many rods out requires teamwork, especially if multiple rods go off at the same time, which is common when fishing for Stripers.


Phill explains the planer board spread to Cal


The Gizzard Shad are tough and they know exactly when a predatory fish approaches, for example seconds before the strike the shad behind the planning board will go ballistic in an effort to escape. Each time Willy got excited he would leap out of the water or swim back and forth causing the entire rod to shake in the holder. Strikes are intense and result in massive swirls that can be both seen and heard.


Phil and Mike lay down the planer boards


The first few takes resulted in the Okuma rods shaking vibrantly but Phill yelled out “green fish, leave my shad alone!” Sure enough, each time we reeled in the fish there was a sub 2lb. largemouth at the end of the line. After we got over the fact these small largemouth were willing to take on gizzard shad nearly their own length we realized that the strikes were not violent enough to pop the planer board clip loose.


Phil sets up rods with Gizzards under balloons on the back of the boat


The use of the saltwater rods helps absorb the shock of the initial strike as well as provides plenty of backbone to not just fight the fish but help reel everything back with the added resistance of the planer board still on the line.


Brandon jumps on a Okuma Catalina reel once we get a swirl


You have to jump on the reel pretty quickly to maintain tension once a fish takes the shad and anything more than a double hookup results in absolute pandemonium on the boat. It took a little bit for Cal and me to adjust to this style of fishing and Mike and Phill ran the boat efficiently making sure shad were presented properly.


Mike freelines a Gizzard behind the boat


Laying out a tight spread to fish a Ouachita Lake arm


Mike talked about times he has fished with planer boards and they ran into schools of big fish and rods would be popping all around the boat. One time six rods hit at almost the same time and they still managed to boat three of the fish, each over 30lbs!


Cal winds in a striper that hits a Gizzard off the planer board


That afternoon we got that splash hit we were looking for and Cal jumped on the reel, winding as fast as he could to catch up with the fish. With tension on the line he worked the fish back to the boat and just as Phill went in to net the fish the line broke but Phil had secured the fish in the net and we successfully boated a 17lb fish.


Phill successfully nets the fish


Cal weighs in the fish, 17lbs


A quality Ouachita Striper but they grow a lot bigger than this in here


Things were definitely moving in the right direction. The bites after that were few and far between and we didn’t really boat anything worth writing home about so we decided it was time for a night mission.


Another day done, now it is time to fish at night

Next Section: Going on a night mission










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