Hunting Fishing

Fortune (and big stripers) smile twice on father and son at San Luis Reservoir

Hunter Turner shows off his personal-best 30-pound striper caught July 31 at San Luis Reservoir – nearly identical to the one his father caught July 28.
Hunter Turner shows off his personal-best 30-pound striper caught July 31 at San Luis Reservoir – nearly identical to the one his father caught July 28. Special to The Bee

The thing I love about fishing is that sometimes great things happen that you couldn’t make up. I recently had two incredible fishing trips that reinforced that point.

It began with a call about two weeks ago from John Turner, an avid outdoorsman and the owner of Turner Security in Fresno: “Hey, Roger, are the fish biting? I’ve got a problem. A friend of mine caught a 13-pound striper and it’s bigger than my biggest fish. He’s harassing me about it and I need to get a 15-pounder or better to stop the noise!”

Big fish never come when you want them to, but I knew John understood that. We decided to go July 28.

The day was hot, but the breezes and the bimini top made it bearable. By 3 p.m. we had a few nice school fish but it wasn’t an easy bite. We were hunting and waiting.

About 5 p.m. I moved to a new flats area. We were trolling for 20 minutes when the pole tip popped up. I saw the line cutting through the water toward us and just when it got near us it went straight down at warp speed with John’s reel screaming. This had to be a big one!

John played the fish as it circled beneath the boat. When it finally came up behind the boat and surfaced, I could see it was huge. The hookset looked weak so I decided to try to reach out and quickly net it. Wrong! The big striper literally jumped out of the net streaking downward again as John held on for dear life. Somehow it stayed on the line. The next pass I netted it, and the celebration began! John and I jumped around while looking at the massive 30-pound monster. We had done it! Let her go! Epic!

The next day, I get a call. “Hey, Roger, how’s Wednesday for a trip? I want my son Hunter to go – maybe he can get a big one, too!”

July 31, the wind was blowing hard, keeping us on the dock until 10 a.m. We set out in 15-20 mph wind, and I saw suspended, nonactive fish on the sonar. It was a tough day.

By about 4:30 p.m. a distant spot came to mind that hadn’t been very good, but why not try it.

I had been trolling about 200 yards in the new area when the pole popped. Could it be? Again?

Hunter fought the fish for 10 minutes when it finally rolled on its side by the boat and I netted it, a giant very close to being a clone of John’s 30-pounder caught three days before. Pictures and a quick release and the deal was done. Hunter had topped his old personal-best by 20 pounds!

All the elements of a once-in-a-lifetime fishing trip: Bragging rights for beating a good buddy’s big fish; huge fish; special father and son memory; overcoming the elements; patience, faith and persistence pay off; Dad’s hunch works; and an epic fishing tale they’ll talk about for the next few generations.

Never give up!

Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert:, Rogergeorgeguideservice on Facebook and @StriperWars