Some days of fishing stand out from the others. And then there are some like yesterday... days that are hard to believe, days when the fishing is excellent, the surroundings are stunning, and the things we encounter exceed all expectations. I mean, I caught only one larger striper yesterday, but the number of fish was incredible. The way they were behaving and the different environments where we found them was also incredible.
Upon arriving Mark and I spotted gulls working. We gave chase, and soon were seeing massive splashes under the birds. They did not stick around and headed off to our south quickly. I noticed how clear the water was once we paused. We started to see stripers cruising off of the bar. As we worked back we were seeing more and more, and eventually we reached a spot where some small groups seemed to be working through on a regular cycle. Some of them were very nice fish. I could see big shadows move towards me from about a foot of water. They were interested in my presentations but seemed not to be hungry. I decided to keep working my way down to a deeper channel. When I got there I could not believe my eyes. There were a bunch of large stripers working the edge of the bar. I was able to get a few to eat my crazy pink shrimp pattern. I eventually got a solid hookup, though it was clearly the smallest fish there.
At the time I was working that channel, mark had pretty much gotten stuck on the flat. Not physically stuck, but every time he tried to leave he spotted another cruising striper. He had one boil up on a large squid pattern, but like myself the main activities he observed were cruising and spooking. We both managed to hook sea robins though, they must have started to move in with the incoming tide.
|(Courtesy Mark Alpert)|
We decided to leave the flat for the sake of our sanity and took a hike to the tidal creek that has been treating me very well lately. What we found when we got there was remarkable.
I worked my way up the bank with a popper. I was releasing an 18 inch schoolie when I noticed birds freaking out just around the corner. As I walked towards the bend I started to hear pops and splashes. Once I got there I saw something unbelievable. There was an obscene blitz happening in that little tight channel, hundreds of fish just going ham on bait. It was the first time I've seen a striper only blitz, and the most unique feeding frenzy both Mark and I have ever seen.
I had to change to a clouser very hastily, but once Mark and I were both fishing with the right flies it was just fish after fish for a while! Most weren't large by any means, the largest was actually the first one Mark caught.
The most noticeable characteristic about these fish was how much heavier they were compared to the fish I was catching a month ago. After the fast action slowed on our side of the river we decided to do some exploring and after a bit of moving around I found a pod of mid sized schoolies hanging out in a boiling currant. They were happy to eat the clouser on a very slow retrieve. A few of them were good examples of what a well fed striper looks like!
We were on that school for long enough to catch five or more fish each, and once it started to slow a bit I got the big fish itch. I stuck on a popper and worked my way down the bank. I caught two larger schoolies that just destroyed the fly. I was getting fish to wake on the fly but they didn't want to commit. I had to get it almost all the way to the other bank, where some large peanut bunker were being worked, in order to get a reaction. When I got a really good 80 foot cast near those bunker I watched a big wake come up behind my popper. Then one, two, three boils. The the fish went full beast mode. The take was loud and gave me a minor heart attack. I shouted down to Mark, I knew this was a bigger fish. Two short runs into the backing, lots of thrashing and some violent head shaking later and I was holding a 30 inch striped bass.