HYBRIDS ON TOPWATERS:TOO MUCH FUN!

Discussion in 'LUKE CLAYTON' started by Luke Clayton, Oct 19, 2007.

  1. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

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    “HYBRIDS ON TOPWATERS:TOO MUCH FUN!”

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    Luke Clayton



    Lake Ray Hubbard fishing guide Johnny Procell surely has the distinction of having guided more clients for more years than any other guide on Ray Hubbard. I am sure Johnny, and the many hundreds of anglers that have fished with him, would be shocked to know just how many white bass, hybrid stripers, stripers, black bass and catfish have come over the gunwales of his boat in the past four decades. Johnny’s career on this popular fishing lake began back in the sixties, well before the lake filled to normal pool and was opened to motor boats. I’ve fished with this veteran guide well over a couple decades and can truly say there is nobody alive today with more knowledge of the bottom structure at Ray Hubbard, or the seasonal patterns of white bass and hybrid stripers, than Johnny Procell. It’s been 23 years since Procell guided John Haney to the state record hybrid striper (19.66 pounds) but he’s trying to break the long standing record every time he launches his boat at Harbor Bay Marina.

    A recent early morning trip with Procell was a mirror image of the last time I fished with him a couple years ago. “Luke, every fall the hybrids and sand bass go on a feeding binge. I like to deer hunt as much as anyone this time of year but once you know about the red hot top water bite that occurs here on a daily basis, it’s hard not to abandon the old bow stand.” kidded Procell as he shut the motor down upwind of a solid acre of top water explosions that, upon closer inspection, proved to be a mixed school of hybrids and white bass doing their dead level best to devour every shad within striking range. Shad were jumping out of the water and the big hybrids were in hot pursuit. “Get your baits in the water, he instructed our buddy Dubb Wallace and myself. Throw it as far as you can and rip it along the surface. Try to create as much top water disturbance as you can.”

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    Photo by Luke Clayton



    On my first cast, my big Zara Spook was inhaled as soon as it hit the water and the reel’s drag began to scream. Johnny and Dubb were also deeply engrossed in battling their own hybrids. Like most devout fishermen, I like catching just about anything that tugs on my line but there is something very special about catching fish on topwaters; especially big fish! Those adrenalin packed seconds between the time when you see that big swirl on the water’s surface and feel the fish stripping line from your reel is the stuff great fishing moments are made of. This recent trip for hybrids will surely leave a lasting impression for all that were present in Procell’s boat. Just as predicted, the big fish began busting the surface at the break of day and the action lasted a couple of hours, then the big schools sounded and the action was over. For about 1.5 hours the fish were frothing the surface, staying on the move with fast moving schools of threadfin shad. Locating hybrids feeding on the surface is not difficult. We witnessed the big fish busting the surface from several hundred yards away.

    Procell uncannily knew the direction the fish were moving and used the big motor to move us ahead of the feeding frenzy. We would stay in the action for five minutes or so, then the fish would be out of casting range. We would crank up and move ahead and wait until they chased the bait within a long cast.

    After the surface feeding was over, Procell broke out the lead slabs and we set up a drift, employing his “lift and drop” technique. “Hybrids, or most any game fish, hit baits when they are falling vertically. The slab mimics dead or dying shad falling to bottom. When you are drifting over humps and ridges holding fish, it’s important to keep the reel in free spool, lift the rod to around 11 o’clock, then release some line to allow the bait to fall freely to bottom. This is when ninety percent of the strikes occur.” he instructed. The early morning top water bite was a tough act to follow but we picked up a few more fish that were hanging tight to the bottom structure. Then, we were back at he cleaning dock. Those hybrid striper fillets, when dusted with sweet basil, black pepper and salt with a bit of lemon juice, make for some mighty good eating!

    Procell says the techniques he uses on Ray Hubbard for catching fall hybrid stripers will work anywhere. The question is, Are you willing to abandon that deer stand long enough to get in on one of the best top water bites of the year?

    Guide Johnny Procell can be reached at 972-264-1352.

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