Bright Light Stripers


Posted on August 06, 1999 at 22:09:55:

Bright Light Stripers

By Gary D. Scavette

2:30AM comes early. Pour down the first cup of coffee, load the cooler and off I go on my hour and a half ride down to the Kennebec. I get the 90HP four stroke warmed up and anxiously await the arrival of my clients. Excellent! They're on time. A few handshakes and off we go. Hammer out to that magical morning spot and one cast…two casts…..FISH ON! After the first dozen fish I might offer a cup of coffee. Why so frantic…rushed? Sunlight is the enemy!

Stripers are very cooperative in the early morning. They do not seem to be in the least bit selective of the flys that you throw at them. As the sun rises in the sky they begin to scrutinize your offerings. I suspect that this is because they are able to see not only the pattern but also the leader differently due to a change in the angle of incident light. Soon you will see fish trailing the fly to the boat instead of hitting it. It is time to get tactical!

There are several things that you can do when a fish shows interest in a fly but does not hit it. The first thing is to change the speed of the retrieve. If this doesn't work replace the fly with a pattern that is more subtle. In other words , select a fly that does not contrast with its environment quite so much. This often means replacing "loud" colors like chartreuse, red, and white with more subtle colors such as olive, pink, and tan. When is the last time that you saw a herring swimming around 50 feet from your boat or a sand eel 20 feet away from your waders? Never! The patterns that we fish are often in sharp contrast with their environment. Take a look at that chartreuse and white Clouser's minnow on a bright day as you cast it and strip it in. You can see it a long way off. It really looks out of place once the sun starts beating down on it. If moving to a more subtle pattern does not work reduce the size of the fly. Usually some combination of the above methods will continue to catch fish. Be sure to eliminate the leader as a variable. I advocate the use of fluorocarbon tippets.

The greatest difficulty that I have with these techniques is explaining why they work. It would seem logical that you should not need to go any further than to match the fish's natural food and then fish the same pattern throughout the day right? I certainly would never claim to have all of the answers but will tell you that previously mentioned techniques work well for me. Give them a try the next time the sun is high and the fish have shut down.

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