The above photo is of an 8 lb. 12oz striper weighed at the bait shop with a Rapala digital scale properly calibrated.
It is the largest striper caught to date in our area, i.e. within 1/2 mile of Fresno. And there is quite a
story behind, or rather, under it.
At approximately 0620 Saturday morning three young men pulled up to the Bait Shop/ HQ building here at Sycamore Island.
As they turned the very last corner, the left tire on their boat trailer EXPLODED. Amazingly, there was no swearing,
but there was a lot of looking. I smoked my pipe. I was a looker. Their boat trailer was blocking my through-way.
And they didn't have a spare tire. Beyond that and upon further examination their "boat" trailer apeared to have a history
in the cement industry, and to be "custom made" if you catch my drift. There was no ball and socket hitch either, but
an elaborate "pin and donkey" structure which secured the trailer to their jeep, and I use the word secured, loosely.
The best to be said for the boat it carried is that it was alluminum. Any more would be an exaggeration. Jacking
up the trailer involved all three of them lifting it up while a log was shoved under the axle.
Another fisherman, seeing their plight loaned them his spare tire. But, alas, it was useless as the lug nut pattern
of the rims did not match. Infact, our trailer in question, didn't use any lug nuts. It seemed more like something
from a wheel barrow. I smoked another pipe as fishermen came and went.
The two older youths approached me and insisted on paying the access fee. Understand, they are all youths to me!
Then they left the young one here with me at the bait shop and left in search of a spare tire. Fortunately, my companion,
Jake the waterdog, was able to entertain Omar. After nearly 2 hours, the elders returned. They said they had visited
10 stores and found only one that would both sell them such a strange tire AND mount it for them - and that's why it took
them so long.
In minutes they had it slid on the trailer, the dirt blown off the bearings, and the single nut spun on the hub. Then
off they dashed.
As the day wore on I confess I forgot all about those boys. Then at 6:45 in the evening in they come to the
They had caught numerous bass and threw them back. A big cat that they didn't want. And then - this!
And they pulled an 8 lb 12oz striper out of their ice chest. Of the 3 stripers I have pictures of here in the bait shop
that I have taken over the last 12 months, this is the largest to date!
So, I want to brag on these three young men. They started out having the worst day of anyone on the river.
But before that day was over they dusted all the whiners and guys who cut out early. If there were a fishermen's "blue
vase" award, these boys should have it.
Omar Shouman, Nick Gongora, and Leonard Villareal
(asked them what bait they used: "no comment" and a grin)
(asked where they caught it?: "somewhere in the river")
With the price they paid, can you blame them for not giving it up?