Posted on August 08, 192000 at 22:28:00:
Go Deep for Big Stripers, Gary D. Scavette
"What happened to all the fish?" This is a common question that persistent fly anglers ask themselves this time of the year when it seems that the number of fish are way down. True , the large schools that kept your rod bent all through June and July have thinned out considerably. Don't sacrifice quality for quantity. There are still plenty of BIG fish out there to catch on the fly. You may need to modify things a bit.
First of all, you should think of large stripers as an entirely different species than the small schoolies you were catching all Summer. Of course they are both stripers but their behaviors are different. This means that you must fish differently for them.
Look for big fish in deep water along structure such as rock ledges, the edges of islands, and breakwaters. The fish that inhabit these areas allow bait to come to them. The harder the surf splashes against these areas the better. I do best in those places where the backwash from splashing waves forms a hydraulic, sucking down the rebounding waves.
I use sinking shooting heads of a minimum of 450 grains on heavy fly rods. I prefer to use rods of 10 wt. and above for these heavy heads. In addition the heavier rod gets big fish to the boat faster, reducing mortality. My leader consists of a piece of level fluorocarbon not more than 6 feet in length. Flies should be large and made of materials that 'swim' well . This is very important.
Cast the fly against the ledge as close as possible. Leave it there! Don't strip it in! The heavy head will draw the fly down deep. The churning currents against the ledge will cause the fly to undulate and look lifelike even if you do not strip it. Fish will often take as the fly is sounding or when you begin to strip it in for another cast. Big stripers get big by allowing currents to bring food to them. They are relatively passive feeders. They are not out chasing 1 inch bait fish 2 feet below the water's surface like schoolies are! Put your intermediate line and #2 Clouser's minnows away.
Time / Tide
The twilight hours of the morning are best. I rarely catch large stripers on the fly when the sun is high. Learn to navigate in the dark so that you are actively fishing as the sun is just peeking along the horizon. This will make a big difference in your numbers of large fly caught stripers.As a rule, the best tide is the one that creates the greatest turbulence against the structure that you are fishing. This will vary from area to area.
Break the old habits of fly fishing for schoolies. Haul out the big rod and heavy line. Tie on a chicken and sling it against a ledge. Best of luck. Drop me an e mail to let me know how this works for you or if you have any questions. firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary Scavette is a registered Maine guide, U.S.C.G licensed captain and the President of Northeast Anglers Inc.