It is clear that some areas experienced excellent striped bass fishing last year. The good fishing was a result of one of the most prolific year classes on record reaching maturity. This translated into over 35 million pounds of striped bass harvested coastwide.
ASGA had deep concerns that the slot limit would fully exploit the robust 2015-year class when it was proposed. These concerns are now a reality. The 2015-year class is the last robust recruitment year. While the 2017 and 2018 year classes are average, there are four consecutive years of the lowest recruitment in recent history following. This leaves the stock and those that depend on a healthy striped bass population in a very dangerous place.
Amendment 7, which was just approved and implemented in May 2022, clearly states that the stock must be rebuilt within 10 years. This current rebuilding plan has failed. The 2022 MRIP harvest numbers showed that harvest doubled and decreased the probability of rebuilding to 14%. This is unacceptable to our community and clearly violates Amendment 7’s rebuilding provisions.
The American Saltwater Guides Association will be submitting an official letter (PDF link) to the ASMFC Striped Bass Management Board on Tuesday, April 25th.
We are asking only that the Striped Bass Management Board follow the rules it established. A new rebuilding plan that has a minimum of a 50% chance of success must be initiated, and those regulations need to be in place by the 2024 season. Addendum II would develop and institute new regulations, providing a better chance of rebuilding the stock by 2029.
Happy hump day! Just a wee reminder that if you’re not following me on Instagram — @stevecultonflyfishing — you may be missing out on some good stuff. What goes on Instagram doesn’t usually make it to currentseams. Like this website, I try to keep it informative, entertaining, or useful (and on a good day, all three). So, if you’re not following me on Instagram, hop to it. I just posted this nifty little black stonefly soft hackled nymph….
Like me, you’re probably busy today. But let’s spend a minute together so I can tell you how much I appreciate your readership. Loyal followers like you are a wonderful gift. I’m looking forward to sharing more fly tying and fly fishing adventures and advice with you in 2023. Stay safe, be well, and I hope you have the happiest of holidays.
It’s a fair question, and unless you’re in the know (and sometimes even if you are) it can be confusing. The current situation is that the bottom release flow was increased over the weekend…and now it’s back down. Here’s a good explanation from our friends at UpCountry: “The MDC just emailed us, the CT DEEP is providing another 25cfs from their bank of water, which means the dam release went up by another 25cfs (they were already adding an additional 25cfs to the minimum flow that MDC has been running this Summer, so now they are adding a total of 50cfs). They were releasing 96cfs (was reading 113cfs at the USGS gauge)- this morning, this increase brings the dam release up to 121cfs, and by the time it hits the Riverton gauge (about 2-2.5 miles downstream) it will read closer to 140cfs, and with about 20cfs additional water coming in from the Still River the total flow below that will be around 160cfs, putting us closer to a normal late August level (200+ cfs) this weekend. This flow bump is being done to help lower the water temps- predicted highs this weekend of 94 for Saturday, low of 72 Saturday night, 96 high for Sunday, and a low of 77 Sunday night- the heat wave breaks on Monday/Tuesday. A big kudos to the DEEP for taking this action, it will keep the entire river cooler, and especially help the downstream trout in Canton, Collinville, Unionville & below make it through this hot weather. I suspect the DEEP will drop their 50cfs contribution down to 25cfs sometime soon after the weekend, as they don’t have a very big “bank” of water to use.”
That was posted before this most recent weekend. The dam flow on Monday noon is 122cfs and the release temperature is under 50 degrees, which is fantastic. Hopefully we’ll get some rain today, which will raise the Still River (currently under 20cfs) and temporarily add some water to the system.
I had planned on some serious smallmouth expeditions this week, but Mother Nature and the new normal — extreme weather — have put the kibosh on that. Last year it was drought, heat, and low water. This year, it’s torrential downpours and flooded rivers. This is now the sixth rainiest July on record, and here’s the kicker: we’re not even halfway through the month. (Anyone who doesn’t think we are experiencing climate change should note that of those six rainiest Julys on record, three of them have happened since 2001.) Some of you have inquired about wet fly guide trips, but I’d like to see the Farmington come down below 500cfs before we plan. Hang in there folks. Tie some flies, fish the salt or small streams, and sooner or later it will stop raining….for months…and we’ll be in another drought.
This is my third (I think) year participating in On The Water magazine‘s “Guide Flies” column, written by Tony Lolli. You’re familiar with he concept of a guide fly — a pattern that is typically simple to tie and can be relied upon to produce day in and day out. (Or night after night, as it were.) The Big Eelie delivers the goods. Developed by Ken Abrames, this pattern imitates larger sand eels. Part flatwing, part soft hackle, the Big Eelie is understated elegance at its finest. I think what I like most about the Big Eelie is that its template — four pencil-thin saddles and a marabou collar — lends itself to as many color combination as your inner artist can conjure up. My Rat a Tat Big Eelie, based on Ken’s larger flatwing, is just one example. Have at it and hold on tight!
Do I guide for striped bass? The short answer is yes. But, these sessions are non-traditional in the sense of a typical guide trip/lesson. The focus is rarely on catching stripers in the moment; rather, it is to prepare you to catch stripers in the future. Depending on time/tide/conditions/season/luck, we may indeed catch some bass. But there is also a high probability that we won’t see a fish.
There are several reason for this. For starters, I do not guide at night. No exceptions. That leaves us with daylight hours, which in the abstract usually means fewer hookups. We’re also in the midst of striper downturn — there are far less fish than there were, say, 15 years ago. I can’t take you to Block Island or Cape Cod, which typically have an in-season abundance of stripers — you’d have to pay for my time and travel, and that would be cost-prohibitive. I’m shore wading only, so we can’t quickly zip off in a boat a few miles away to find the next blitz. Finally, my lessons are usually two hour sessions. Tides and time being ever-changing, that means we may not hit a strong bite window (if we do, good on us!). So, if you’re OK with trading immediate gratification for success down the road, read on.
What do I teach? A lot of good stuff you won’t find anywhere else. Most of you know me as a guide who fishes for stripers in a traditional and (in modern popular practice) unconventional manner. I primarily use floating lines. You should have one, too. My focus is on rigging, presentation, fly selection, and more presentation. You might want to spend a couple hours with me if you’re interested in learning traditional trout and salmon presentations like the greased line swing; how to tie and fish dropper rigs; fishing with multiple flies at or near the surface; reading water; fishing with your two-hand setup (sorry, I can’t supply you with a rod); and plenty of little things that sometimes make the difference between fishing and catching stripers.
I hope this clarifies what I do. My rate will vary depending on location. If you’re interested in setting up a trip, or need more information, please call me at 860-918-0228 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not all Gurgler-type flies are meant to be stripped. I caught this handsome Block bass on a dead drift — the Gurgling Sand Eel was point fly on a team of three — and showing you how to do the same is just one of the things I teach.
According to today’s tally, there are 807 people officially following currentseams.com. The number tends to go up and down a little every week, but as most of you know, I do a fly giveaway contest every 100 followers. This isn’t the official announcement — I’ll be making it sometime in the next few weeks — but I wanted to take this time to thank all of you for your loyal readership. I truly appreciate it.
It’s almost contest time! You too could be the proud owner of fly swag like this.
Effective June 15, I will be resuming my fly fishing guiding/teaching services. I know many of you have been waiting for this announcement — I thank you for your patience. If you’re interested in a guide trip/lesson, please read the following carefully:
I will be doing half-day (four hours) sessions ONLY. This is to limit exposure for all parties involved.
I know, I know, we’re going to be outside. But you must wear a mask or a buff/gaiter that covers both your mouth and nose. No exceptions. I will be wearing one, too. The goal is to be respectful of one another’s health. And please, if you’re not feeling well, don’t come out. We’ll re-book at no penalty to you.
Take Captain Mark’s lead (but be sure to cover your nose). Hey, if we run into one of those hot, humid days we can pretend we’re somewhere in the Everglades. Minus those horrific mosquitoes.
My availability will be limited. While there are seven days in a week, I’m not looking to fill all of those days. Weekdays are better than weekends. I have many personal and family commitments this summer — and as you know, I like to fish too.
As always, my focus is on teaching. You can read more about that and find my rate card here. To book a trip, please email me at email@example.com or call 860-918-0228. If I don’t answer, leave a message and I’ll get back to you.
I’m looking forward to teaching you and helping you become a better angler.
You too can become a dangerous wet fly machine like Greg.