By John Kenny
Fellow Central Coast Kayak Fishing (CCKF) co-founder Ryan Howell and I had not had a day fishing together in quite some time. The striper bite was on at Central California's Lake San Antonio, so we headed out early the morning of Feb. 11. We started marking fish as soon as we reached open water, and Ryan hooked up immediately. I continued making my way toward the dam, where my fishfinder indicated the fish were stacked deep. I dropped an Alabama rig down and started to slow-troll out of the area when my reel screamed. I fought the fish for a few minutes on my light rod, got it into the net and onto my boat. I was ecstatic–a fat 12-pounder.
But the fun was just starting.
I heard something unusual as I was putting the fish on my clip. About 500 yards away it looked like an aluminum boat had capsized. I had to stare for a few seconds before I realized my mind wasn't playing tricks on me.
As I got closer, I saw two people in the water. I paddled alongside and confirmed everyone was okay. It was a guy who fishes there often and a lady. They were on their first date. He set the hook on a big striper, lost his balance, the boat flipped completely over and into the drink they went. The water was about 62 degrees at the surface–I'm sure it was in the low to mid 50's a few feet down. They asked for help getting to shore. I had the lady grab the back handle of my Predator 13 and I started paddling toward shore, which was only about 40 yards away. While paddling I kept thinking this is much more difficult than I thought it would be. Once we got to shore I knew why.
As she stepped onto solid ground she said, "I have line wrapped around my waist." She pulled the line up and bit through it with her teeth, just as her companion yelled "Wait!!!" Bye-bye striper. We dragged the boat to shore, tipped it right side up and began looking for lost gear. I grabbed the hand pump from my kayak, and pumped out water until we could tip the boat on its side to drain it. I called Ryan on his cell phone, and he alerted Harbor Patrol to come tow the couple back to the boat ramp. It could have been worse–he lost just one rod and reel and a couple tackle boxes. Both lost their phones and his truck keys were on the bottom. I let him use my phone to call a buddy to bring him an extra set. I sent a message to her son with a picture of her holding my fish to let him know what happened and that she was okay.
Getting dumped in a cold lake and losing her phone probably wasn't how she envisioned their first date going, but they seemed to react to the mishap with a sense a humor. I'm guessing that if there was a second date, they stayed on dry ground.
–John Kenny a.k.a. JK; Central Coast Kayak Fishing Co-Founder
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