As many of you know, I’ve been asked to contribute a chapter to Dennis Zambotta’s followup to “Surfcasting Around The Block.” I’d started writing back in December, then got sidetracked. First draft is done. Now comes the hard part — the editing, polishing, re-writing. So for now other creative projects will have to wait. For what it’s worth, I’m excited about what I’ve written so far.
I’ve long believed that anglers using different methods can learn much from each other. That’s what Six Things Salt Water Fly Anglers Can Learn From Plug Fisherman, now available at Field & Stream Online, is all about: going to school on anglers who are fishing differently than you. I got the idea from books like Surfcasting Around The Block by Dennis Zambrotta, and Night Tides: The Striper Fishing Legend of Billy The Greek by Michael Cinquemani. Neither book is about fly fishing, but each is loaded with pearls and gems that will help make you a better fly angler.
I’d like to thank Jerry Audet from InDeepOutdoors.com, Dan Wells, and Dennis Zambrotta for sharing their experiences and expertise. I have a lot of respect for these guys and their passion for striped bass.
You may think it would be easy to pick out a top ten fishing memories of the year list. But it isn’t. Sometimes it’s especially difficult to choose one event as the single best moment of the year. What made that particular fish better than another? Is size the only determining factor? What about frequency of catching? Is an epic day of constant action more worthy than a single big fish? These are the questions for which I struggle to find answers. In the end, I chose my tenth Block Island All-Nighter as the #1 Best of 2020 for several reasons. First, the company: old friend Peter Jenkins of The Saltwater Edge. It was Jenks’ first BIAN, and after a slow start he killed it. While there weren’t any slot fish or better, the action was consistently good all night (I’m told by my Island spies that this was the first really good night of the season). Finally, I hadn’t done a BIAN in five years, and it was soul-restoring to get back to this treasured tradition. Cap it off with a highly satisfying breakfast at Ernie’s, and that, and Jenks would say, “makes it a win!”
I know this was a challenging year for everyone. I hope you found some solace, if not downright joy, on the water. Here’s to the great moments of 2020, and to the hope that 2021 is even better. Thanks for reading currentseams. I value your comments, questions, and passion for this wonderful sport of ours. Cheers!
Skunk’s off. Most of the stripers we caught on BIAN X were in the 20″-24″ class, but Block Island bass are a treat on the long rod at any size .
As more and more fly fishing magazines wither and die, I find myself looking for new ways to contribute to the ancient art of print. (I have some exciting ideas that I may announce in 2021.) Sometimes those opportunities materialize seemingly out of nowhere. Like when Toby Lapinski asked me to contribute to The Fisherman magazine (new articles coming in 2021). Or when Dennis Zambrotta asked me to write a fly fishing chapter for his followup to Surfcasting Around The Block. As it turns out, I may be writing a couple pieces. I love Block. I love Dennis’ first book. And I’m loving writing for the followup. (Here’s the original post in case you missed it.)
I love all striped bass, but there is something wondrous about holding one in the sacred waters of Block Island.
Today was tidal creek stomping day with Toby Lapinski, he armed with his light spinning gear and me with my trusty five-weight. The wind was a bit of an issue for me — as was casting room — but once I reacquainted myself with the nuances of casting a three-fly team with a 9-weight line on the 5-weight rod, everything was jake. We hit two marks on the incoming tide. One was a total blank, and the other produced for both of us. Nothing large, but enough to put a nice bend in our rods. It sure didn’t feel like December.
In these politically charged times, here’s something we can all agree on.
This one didn’t make it. We saw scores of dead bunker, especially at the second mark. Many had bird wounds (post mortem?). Apparently there was a substantial fall invasion of these crazy menhaden.
You’ll experience fewer tangles with a three-fly team if you slow down your stroke and open your loop a bit. Photo courtesy of Toby Lapinski.
If you fish a two-handed rod, or if you use a modern shooting head integrated line (like Rio Outbound or Airflo 40+) with your single hand setup, you’ve undoubtedly encountered this scenario. You want to change your fly, or check the hook point, so you tuck your rod under your armpit and gather in the line. Problem: while you’re fiddling with the fly, the current grabs the line — those shooting heads have a lot of surface area — and downstream goes your head, taking your running line along with it. Now, you’ve got to re-strip 60, 70, 80 feet of line again — time you could be fishing.
Solution: wrap a couple loops of the running line around your off-hand wrist. I like to gather in the running line till the shooting head is just outside the rod tip. The orange running line below my wrist remains inside my shooting basket. This way I’m ready to cast as soon as I change flies. That’s more time spent fishing, and that means more potential time catching.
Another short and sweet (or bitter, depending on your POV) striper report: fished the mouth of the Housatonic today for two hours. We had a good tide, overcast skies, and a falling barometer, three elements that should have made for a terrific outing. Unfortunately, Mother Nature forgot to CC the bass on the memo. Not a touch for me, both deep and on the surface. In fact, I saw only three three teens-inch bass caught in two hours among ten or so anglers, and it was all two guys fishing one small pocket. Deciding that you cannot catch what isn’t there, and having had enough two-handed casting practice, I skedaddled just before low tide.
Not from today. In fact, it was as warm a November day as I can remember down there. The most excitement I had was when a bird went fishing for my fly. I was relieved that the pull produced no hookup.
I’ll make this short and sweet. I fished last night because I was foolish enough to believe that I had an accurate weather forecast. Moments before I walked out the door at 10:30pm, I re-checked the site. There it was: clear skies through dawn. About 15 minutes after I settled in, an ominous charcoal grey wall moved in from the eastern horizon. Soon, the mark was socked in. Thanks, weather.com (he said, dripping with sarcasm). When I got home, the site now warned of a “dense fog advisory.” Great.
It certainly felt fishy, and I had a waking follow before the fog settled in. But I’ve learned that fog kills the bite at this mark with a destitution of mercy. I dunno…call me crazy…but this don’t look like “Clear” conditions to me…
It’s no secret that our precious striper stocks are stressed. New regs are going into effect (check your state for specifics) that every striper angler should know about. But this year, I’m creating my own reg.
It starts with a question: Do I really need to catch 50 small bass at the mouth of the Hous? Do I really need to catch 20 sixteen-inchers in June during the grass shrimp hatch, or on a flat on the Cape during a sand eel blitz? The answer is no.
I’m asking you to join me. When it becomes clear that it’s a small bass on just about every cast, I’m going to reel up and stop fishing. So yes, let’s still fish. Yes, let’s still have fun. But let’s also give the bass a break. Catching another dozen dinks won’t make you a hero. Walking away will.
Sure, they’re fun. But they’re also ridiculously easy to catch. These bass are the future of the fishery. So please consider giving them a break. And while you’re at it, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the ASGA. This group is gaining traction, and is beginning to have a real, quantifiable effect on the state of the fishery. Thank you.
Amidst the recent doom and gloom surrounding the fall 2019 ASMFC session, a ray of hope: Congressman Huffman, Chairman of Water, Oceans and Wildlife, is hosting a national listening tour regarding the concerns of anglers, scientists, and policy makers. Here are two short reports from people who spoke at the Baltimore meeting that you should read:
The first is from Charles Witek’s blog, One Angler’s Voyage.
The second is from Tony Friedrich, Policy Director of the ASGA.
The quote of the month comes from Tony, who wrote: “Here’s one more thing to ponder. The American Saltwater Guides Association isn’t even a year old and we had a seat at the table for an event sponsored by the Chairman of Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. Let that sink in folks. Profound change doesn’t happen overnight. You have a work and grind at it every day. That’s what we have done from the start at ASGA. We have already won and lost a few. This goes into the “W” column.”