|DON MARTIN/For the Miner|
From left, Randy Hopp and Terri Milholm of Newburg, Ore., and Golden Valley resident Ryan Borden are all smiles as they pose with the fish they caught during a recent trip at Lake Mead.
Just about everyone who does a lot of nighttime striper fishing on Lake Mead knows that the fishing this year has been a little off.
I'm not sure why, but in May and even into early June, high winds were a problem, as was the continued lowering of the lake.
The striper bite during those months was hit and miss for the most part, and I actually canceled a number of trips I had booked during those months. I don't want anglers to come up to Lake Mead when I know we aren't going to catch at least 30 fish during a night.
But in the last two weeks, the fishing at the lake has really turned on.
And for a couple of friends of mine who traveled all the way from Newburg, Ore., they hit it just at the right time.
I've known Randy Hopp for many years and have shared some awesome hunting trips with him. I was honored to be on his dad's once-in-a-lifetime desert bighorn sheep hunt when Ray got his ram on his 75th birthday in unit 15B West.
Then there was an elk-hunting trip in Unit 23N where Randy drew tag No. 1 and took an awesome 6x9 bull.
Randy and I have been planning a fishing trip on Lake Mead for a lot of years. Last week, it finally all came together.
Randy brought his lady friend, Terri Milholm. Also on the trip was my intern, Ryan Borden, and I.
The evening started with us leaving South Cove and heading to the Nevada side of the lake, where we started fishing striper boils. The stripers are pushing up shad fry to the top where they literally slurp them up.
Before it got dark, we put 10 nice stripers in the boat.
Then it was over to an island near Sandy Point where we set up and started fishing with cut-up anchovies.
Terri started the action by catching stripers seemingly one after another.
Finally the rest of us got into the game, and for five hours, it seemed it was almost non-stop.
But here is the kicker - the size and variety of fish we caught were unreal.
Besides stripers, which weighed up to almost 2 pounds, we caught carp, and I mean big ones.
Terri set the new Striper Hunters record when she landed our first double-digit carp, a behemoth that weighed 10 pounds, 4 ounces.
Terri caught two carp, I landed a pair and Randy put one in the boat. The total weight for those five fish was 35 pounds, 14 ounces. Those fish were given to a family from Thailand who drove all the way to Kingman from Lake Havasu City to take them. From what I understand, carp sell at the Chinese fish markets for somewhere around $5 a pound.
Then there were the channel cats. We landed 11 of the whiskered fish.
Randy set the new record for Striper Hunters anglers when he landed a huge black channel cat that weighed 8 pounds, 4 ounces. The fish was coal black, and it was promptly named "The Black Mamba."
Our 11 cats collectively weighed 30 pounds, 12 ounces, with three of them weighing more than 3 pounds.
Then there were the stripers.
At daylight, we chased boils again and put 10 more nice fish in the ice chests.
All total, we ended up with 100 stripers in the boat, and they collectively weighed 87 pounds, 12 ounces.
But it didn't end there. While chasing those striper boils, Ryan and I each caught a hungry smallmouth bass, which we released.
We ended up putting 156 pounds, 6 ounces of fish in the boat.
That's about as good as it will ever get on Lake Mead, given the size and diversity of the fish we caught.
With the monsoons starting, who knows if the fishing will stay the same.
But one thing was for sure - this was a trip for the books.