Tales from the Bass-o-Matic

I don’t usually publish these things but clearly the word is out, as evidence by overflowing parking lots and anglers massed together like so many sardines — the spring striped bass run is on. (And then some.) It’s been about ten days now. I caught it the day it turned on, and I returned yesterday for round two of the hysteria. Both days I stopped counting after 25 fish. (The intrepid angler, if he or she had several hours, could easily reach or surpass the century mark.) It’s rather insane, to the point where you go through stretches where you literally are catching the proverbial fish on every cast. The fishing isn’t technical: find a rip, cast, strip, fight, release. I’ve been using a full sink tip integrated line, a short (2-3 feet) leader, and an assortment of soft-hackled flatwings 3-4″ long. I have a limited interest in this kind of fishing, but I gotta admit that it’s a lot of fun while I’m doing it.

So: If you fish on the Cape, start sharpening your hooks. There’s a whole heaping helping of stripers heading your way.

These stripers are uber-aggressive gluttons who are wanton and reckless in their need to destroy your fly. Most are in the 14-20″ class, with a few bigger bass in the mix. They make for a decent battle in a ripping current. Yesterday I caught them on the strip, swing, dangle, and even with my eyes closed.

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Four members of the Connecticut Surfcasters each hauled out a bag of garbage they collected on their walk back. I know you’d like to join me in thanking them for their efforts. Pictured here are Charlie and George. Well done, gents.

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So far, I’m giving this season a very enthusiastic striper thumb’s up.

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“Fishing Wet Flies & Soft Hackles” class this Saturday, May 5

Pat Torrey was going to lead this class last Saturday, but it had to be postponed — and Pat can’t do it this Saturday, May 5 — so I’m going to step in as guest instructor. As of right now there are three openings. Please do not contact me to sign up — you have to do it through UpCountry Sportfishing. Here is the information from their website:

We had to reschedule the “Fishing Wet Flies & Soft-Hackles” class from 4/28 to Saturday 5/5- Steve Culton will be teaching this one. As of this morning, there are 3 spots still available- call the store at 860-379-1952 to sign up.  “Fishing Wet Flies & Soft-Hackle”

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Spring fishing madness and current(seams) events

Just a quick post to catch up with you. Warmer weather is finally here, and who among us is not stoked? You haven’t been hearing much from me lately, and that’s due to it being a very busy time between kids’ sports (hockey and lacrosse); yard work (Trivia question: what do me and Bob Pop have in common besides fly fishing for stripers? Answer: We are both avid rose growers); and regular work, work, work. Oh, I’ve been fishing, too. Reports to come.

The Farmington River has gone through an extended high, cold phase. They’ve recently dropped the flow from the dam, and after the Still settles the river should be in fine shape for the weekend. Would you believe I haven’t fished the river in months? That will change next week.

I fished the lower Hous last week and the Bass-o-Matic was on. I fished a full sink integrated line and a variety of soft-hackles and I don’t think I went more than three casts between bass. (You too can become an instant expert.)

I’m starting to get a lot of guiding requests. If you want to book an outing/lesson with me, you can find out everything you need to know here. A reminder that I started doing short striper trips last fall that are geared toward you learning the methodology of trout fishing for striped bass. Also, most of my weekends are booked — so now you’ve got a great excuse to blow off work and fish.

The spring speaking circuit is winding down. My next gig will be September 4 at the Long Island Flyrodders. If you’re the person in charge of booking speakers for your club, fear not and click here.

And yes, there are articles in the magazine pipeline. Details as they come in.

See you on the water!

All in favor of an epic Hendrickson hatch, say aye.

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Tip of the Week: Change it up

One of my favorite old saws from my days in advertising creative was, “You cannot bore someone into buying your product.” The same could be said of fly fishing: you cannot bore a fish into eating your fly.

I was recently reminded of this — twice, actually. Both times I was fishing over water that I knew held good-sized fish. Streamers was the method, and although I had induced some bumps, there were no wholesale takes. Even a variation in presentation or resting the fish did not produce. In both cases, what did produce was changing the fly. Fish are curious, often to a fault. Off with the old, on with the new, and Ka-POW!

Sometimes it’s the simple, little things that make the difference between fishing and catching.

I’m giving the above advice an enthusiastic striper thumb’s up.

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I Can’t Get No (but Gordon can)

Booking a steelhead trip months in advance is a sure way to not only reserve a spot, but also play the weather and bite lottery. It’s a game I’ve done very well at when it comes to steelheading and losing.

Like Sunday, when Gordo and I fished some Lake Ontario tribs. 34 degrees, wind, rain, freezing rain, high & cold water, bite all but shut down. (I try. And I try. And I try. And I try. The fact is, dammit, I’ve blanked on three of my last four days up there. And oh, the crappy conditions I’ve endured. Insert long sigh here.) Of course, you can’t control the elements, so you might as well make the best of it.

We started off with some crik stomping at Trib A. Dad blanked, Gordo landed a dark horse buck before the bite shut down. Trib B was the Salmon River. After a couple hours we decided it wasn’t going to happen, and the lack of boats, anglers, or witnessing any hookups made us feel good with the decision as we paddled down to Pineville. Off to Trib C. First hour: blank, blank, blank. Last two hours: a fresh run of fish from the lake. Unfornately it wasn’t dad’s day, and I couldn’t even manage a touch. Gordo dropped two and landed two, so I got to play the role of proud papa, which, as any of you dads can testify, takes the mightiest stink out of any skunk.

Given the choice between 10 degrees and sunny or 34 degrees and raining/icing, I’ll take Option A any day. Sadly, we didn’t have a choice. I think I’m finally starting to warm up.

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Kids. You take them fishing and they have the nerve to outfish you. Decisively. That’s OK. I’ve got a lot of yard work planned for this young man this week. Talk about a trouper — miserable conditions, spotty bite, and Gordo never complained once. Having finally lost a steelhead and for becoming a member of the Frozen Chosen, he’s now officially a steelheader.

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Pat Torrey’s Tiny BWO Soft Hackle

I recently received an email about this fly, couldn’t find the recipe on this site, and thought I should remedy that. I featured Pat Torrey’s Tiny Blue Winged Olive soft-hackle in an old American Angler article called “Match Game: Matching the Hatch with Wet Flies.” You can read it here.  This is a wet fly I like to fish as a dry, dusted with Frog’s Fanny, although it works subsurface as well. I first saw Pat’s fly on the UpCountry website many years ago, and it’s been a staple in my fly box ever since. (Hint: by changing the tail, body, and hackle color, the intrepid tyer can create a fine midge, Trico, or Needhami imitation.)

Tiny BWOSH

Hook: 1x fine curved emerger, size 20-26
Thread/Body: 8/0 dark brown
Tail: Brown or tan Antron
Rib: Fine copper wire
Hackle: Webby blue-grey dun hen

600 Followers Contest Swag

I spent part of yesterday hunkered down at the bench, fingers flying around fur and feather. My intention was to get these out today, but it will have to wait until early next week. In the meantime, feast your eyes — and think about the potential glory you hold within each cast. On we go to 700!

Roger and Vince asked for striper flies. Here’s a starter kit, with many major food groups covered. They’ll be getting one of each. Clockwise from bottom: Orange Ruthless (clam worm), Ray’s Fly (silverside), Inconspicuous (anchovy), Eelie (sand eel), Grass Shrimp Solution, and Soft Hackled Flatwing (generic baitfish/attractor).

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Here are Paul’s soft hackles and wets. Left cork, clockwise, starting upper left: Partridge and Light Cahill (2), Hare’s Ear wingless, Red Fox Squirrel nymph, Squirrel and Ginger, BH Squirrel and Ginger. Right Cork, clockwise, starting upper right, Hackled March Brown, Grizzly and Grey wingless, Dark Hendrickson (2), Drowned Ant (2).

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Many thanks to everyone for your readership, kindness, and support. I have lots of good stuff planned for this spring and beyond, so stay tuned.