Some things, as they say, are worth the wait. The question is, what?
For every outdoor enthusiast, the answer to that question is different.
For some, it may be the opportunity to hunt a six-point bull elk on a pinyon-covered slope in central Nevada. For others, it may be the chance to watch a mule deer buck sporting wide antlers stop for that habitual last glance in their direction before he crosses over the ridge top.
But for members of the Nevada Striper Club, the thing worth waiting for is the experience of doing battle with a double-digit striped bass, a fish that surpasses the 10-pound mark.
Stripers that exceed the 10-pound barrier are not uncommon in Southern Nevada. Lake Mead and Lake Mohave produce fish that large and much larger. Every now and then, someone weighs in a 30-pounder.
The state-record striper measured 49 inches long and weighed in at 63 pounds. Lure creator Allan Cole pulled the fish from Lake Mohave in March 2001. Lake Mead gave up a 52-pound, 15-ounce, leviathan to then 20-year-old Nick Olivas of Kingman, Ariz., in June 2011.
Though striper fishermen don’t reel in fish like these on a regular basis, it sure doesn’t stop them from trying. At 5 p.m. on Valentine’s Day, members of the Nevada Striper Club took to the waters of Lake Mead in search of big fish. They were competing for prize money in the club’s Top 10 Tournament, so called because it pays out for the top 10 places. Participants can keep as many fish as the law allows, but they can weigh in only four. The heavier the four-fish bag, the bigger the payout.
When the weigh-in began at noon Sunday, 43 hours had passed since club members started fishing. During that time, they caught and kept a total of 91 striped bass. They weighed in only 40 of those fish, but the total weight was just less than 228 pounds. That’s an average weight of 5.7 pounds per fish and almost 22.8 pounds per four-fish bag.
Mike O’Donnell won the event by weighing in a four-fish bag at 43.05 pounds that included three double-digit fish. His big fish weighed 13 pounds. Coming in second was Mike Steckel, who weighed in 40.25 pounds of fish. His catch included a 20.75-pound fish that easily took the tournament’s big fish honor.
Most found their fish on the bottom, tournament director Toby Chandler said. They reached them by slow trolling 9- to 11-inch gizzard shad on a trap rig with 2 to 3 ounces of weight. This is accomplished by running a single 2/0 or 3/0 octopus hook through the gizzard’s snout, followed by a No. 4 treble hook in the vent.
Chandler also said striper club members are generally using gizzard shad rather than threadfin shad. The gizzards are bigger and have a larger profile that attracts the striped bass. They also are more durable than threadfin.
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.