TU 225 awarded the Order of the Triple Jalapeño Burger with Octoberfest Clusters

You know it’s going to be a good night when you sit down at the table and moments later a server brings you a cold, crisp Octoberfest — which you didn’t order, but would have. Sometimes things just fall into place. Many thanks to my good friends at the Narragansett Chapter of TU who demonstrated once again their mastery of the concept of a fed presenter is a happy presenter. Always a pleasure talking fishing over dinner. The topic for the club was “Trout Fishing for Striped Bass,” and we had a some good Q&A afterwards. Now, I gotta make a new presentation for next year!

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve got. (And if it’s stripers like this, you’re probably doing something right.)

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The best sand eel fly is the one that gives you the most confidence. (Like the Bruiser Big Eelie.)

Here’s another sand eel fly pattern that I can’t do without: the Bruiser Big Eelie. Faithful followers know that Ken Abrames’ Big Eelie template is a tried-and-true favorite that lends itself to all kinds of color variations. “Bruiser” because it’s black and blue and purple — and because this fly has accounted for some of my biggest stripers. Perfect for those dark of the moon nights when the bass are looking up and tracking those telltale thin silhouettes across the surface. I’ve been fishing this fly for close to a decade now, and while the Bruiser has appeared elsewhere, I haven’t presented it here until now. Speaking of presentation: swing it, dangle it, dead drift it, and strip it in ultra-short jerky bursts (my favorite).

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Hook: 3/0 Eagle Claw 253
Thread: Black 6/0
Platform: 30 hairs blue bucktail
Tail: First, a purple saddle, second, another purple saddle, third, 2 strands blue flash and 2 strands purple flash, fourth, a black saddle, fifth, a black saddle. (All saddles pencil thin and tied in flatwing style.)
Body: Purple braid
Hackle: 3-4 turns purple marabou, tied in at the tip
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The Bruiser Big Eelie Rogues’ Gallery:
Block Island, 20+ pounds
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Everyone’s invited to tomorrow night’s “Trout Fishing for Striped Bass” presentation.

The Long Island Flyrodders have graciously offered to open my Tuesday evening presentation to all currentseams followers. So, that’s tomorrow night, September 4, 8pm in Levittown, NY. Hope to see you there, and in fine Steve Somers fashion, directions here.

Want to catch more — and bigger — stripers? Then come to this presentation.

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Sand Eel Secrets

There are several baits that give striper anglers fits: clam worms, grass shrimp, and truly tiny stuff (like crab larvae), just to name a few. You can also add sand eels to the list. I see the forlorn souls trudging off the beach, beleaguered and bewildered, always with the same mournful complaint: “There were all these fish feeding and we couldn’t catch them.” Sand eels might be the sulphurs of the salt. They’re a plentiful bait, easy to identify, the fish love to eat them — and most anglers approach the situation the wrong way.

I love fishing for striped bass that are feeding on sand eels. Some of my best nights of striper fishing have occurred during a sand eel hatch. Here are some things I’ve observed that will help you catch more bass that are feeding on sand eels.

— Striped bass are very much like trout. They like current, and they will key on certain food sources at certain times at the expense of all other menu options. What’s more, they will feed in a certain manner in a certain part of the water column. Sound like trout taking emergers just below the surface film? Good! Once you grasp this concept, you’re halfway home.

— When confronted with the scenario of stripers crashing sand eels on the surface, most anglers attack the problem with sinking lines and/or weighted flies. This is the equivalent of wading into a trout stream where trout are sipping Trico spinners, then tossing a tungsten cone head Woolly Bugger. (Sidebar: yes, stripers will root along the bottom for sand eels, then eat them as they shoot for the surface. Dredging the bottom with a weighted fly can be productive. But if you see the fish leaving rise rings or splashy boils, that should be your first clue that a floating line and an unweighted sand eel pattern is a good place to start.)

A floating line, a sparse, unweighted sand eel pattern, and a very happy angler. My friend John, who was fishing next to me, caught a bass in this size class on 11 consecutive casts.

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— This is not rocket science. Recall Fly Fishing 101: What are the fish eating? How are they eating it? What do I have in my box that most closely resembles the bait (size, color, profile)? How can I present my fly to mimic what the naturals are doing?

— It’s almost never a bad idea to target an actively feeding bass.

— Aggressive feeders will take a stripped fly with gusto. I like very short (3″ or less) rapid strips. Wait until you feel the weight of the fish before you set the hook. Always strip set.

— There often comes a time in the hatch when the bass will no longer chase. The stripped fly is rendered useless. But the catching doesn’t have to end. The smart angler will change tactics. He or she might use a dropper rig, suspended in the surface, managing it like a dry fly presentation (dead drifting over a feeding lane) or every-so-slightly maintaining tension on the line (not so much a retrieve as it is a gathering of slack). The takes in this scenario will be sublime. Again, strip set.

If the rise rings become softer and the stripers won’t chase a stripped fly, try a dropper rig suspended in the film.

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— Just because you don’t see stripers feeding on the surface doesn’t mean a) they’re not there, and b) they won’t take a sand eel fly at the surface.

— I like to shuffle into a beach trough or across a flat to see if I can roust some sand eels. On the dark of the moon I look for their biolume contrails, or feel for their crazy bounces off my legs. If I’m lucky, a nearby striper will ghost his position by stomping on the fleeing bait. Now I have a target.

— Confidence catches fish.

Find sand eel patterns that you have confidence in, then go forth and prosper. I happen to love Ken Abrames’ Big Eelie, shown here below the glasses and in the left side of the box. Note the vast array of colors; I’ve never experienced that stripers have a preference. I also like Ken’s smaller Eelie, and Ray Bondorew’s Marabou Sand Eel. And for the record, I haven’t caught a striper on sand eel fly that had eyes in over a decade.

Block Island All-Nighter Flies Big Eelies

 

 

 

Olive Fireworm Big Eelie Fireworks

Flies don’t catch fish — anglers do. Still, I sometimes like to fish by feeling, and the Olive Fireworm Big Eelie is my traditional choice on the 4th of July.

On our nation’s birthday, this 15-pound striper said yes to the Olive Fireworm Big Eelie. What a tremendous battle. I’m always in awe of the power of Block Island bass.

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Olive Fireworm Big Eelie Variant

I was going through currentseams the other day and was surprised by how few fly patterns I’ve actually posted. Take the Big Eelie. I’ve been tying it in a seemingly endless series of colors for — well, for as long as I’ve been tying it — but I haven’t posted many of those variants. Let’s begin to remedy that with the Olive Fireworm Big Eelie. It draws its palette from the single feather flatwing of the same name found in Ken Abrames’ A Perfect Fish. The result is an explosion of bass-tempting pyrotechnics. Fish it on or around July 4th to celebrate Independence Day — or the fact that you’re out casting a fly to striped bass. Aw, heck. Fish it when ever you like. It is, after all, a free country.

The Olive Fireworm Big Eelie

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Hook: Eagle Claw 253 3/0
Thread: Black 6/0
Platform: 10 hairs each orange, yellow, and chartreuse bucktail, mixed
Tail: First, a red saddle; second, 4 strands copper Flashabou; third, an orange saddle; fourth, a gray saddle; fifth, an olive saddle. (All saddles pencil thin.)
Body: Chartreuse braid
Collar: Hot orange marabou, tied in at the tip, 2-3 turns

 

 

Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Does anybody see what I see?

Followers and readers already know that I tend to fish how, where, and when others don’t — especially when it comes to stripers. I’ve always considered currentseams to be a teaching platform, and to a large extend that is what drives the content of this site. Still, there are times when I feel like a lonely island being battered by the waves of conventional wisdom. So when I get a letter like the one below, it restores me. I’ve edited some of it for brevity, but I think its message is important. Fans of 1776 will get the title reference — and the importance of the answer, “yes.”

“I believe in giving credit where credit is due. I also believe that if someone has helped you, made a part of life more enjoyable, or provided valuable guidance, you should thank them. currentseams has done all three of those things for me.
I moved to Barrington, Rhode Island 7 years ago. I was a sophomore in high school and by then an avid fly fisherman and fly tier of, again, 7 years. I knew little of Rhode Island’s saltwater opportunities then. I was a die-hard trout fisherman, but with the Farmington 2 hours away and no drivers license I thought I should figure out how to have fun in my own backyard.
After multiple run-ins with striped bass eccentrics my father and I were excited. Yet in our haste to get on the water (in reality it was just MY haste) we forgot to really take our time to learn and listen. “Whats the best fly? What’s the best line? Where’s the best spot? Okay, thank you and goodbye!” We wanted to know what everyone else was doing so that’s what we got: intermediate lines, weighted flies, and the strip retrieve. It wasn’t a productive spring, and you can bet our disappointment had us sticking to trout.
With my intermediate line and my Clouser minnows I set out to really figure out this whole striped bass thing. I had done the research. I knew they were around. Now I just had to catch them. This time I had some success. I got a better understanding of tides and where to find fish, but I still fished fast and deep because its all I knew and all I was told. Countless times I lamented my setup as stripers gorged on silver sides right before my eyes. Damned my sinking fly!
I decide to change it up. Time to ditch the internet and get some ink in my nails. Time to sort through my stacks of Eastern Fly Fishing magazine. After some digging I found it, an article titled “South County, RI: By Boots or By Boat”. I don’t have a boat, but I certainly have some boots. This could be good. The article featured beautiful imagery, informative writing, and a picture of a gray-haired man in all black fishing in a trout stream? What?
The caption reads: On a foggy day, the South County salt ponds and connecting estuaries closely resemble the English countryside. It’s no small reason that the original settlers called the area New England. And it’s why native son Kenney Abrames favorites trout and salmon techniques in the salt. 
Not a trout stream, but he was fishing it like one. Who is this Kenney Abrames? A quick internet search bears links to A Perfect Fish and Striper Moon. I scroll down a bit more and there it is, a search result titled “Ken Abrames- currentseams”. I clicked. I read. I explored and I never looked back. It was as if a whole new world had opened up to me. I blazed through currentseams. I quickly bought and read Striper Moon. I bought some floating line. And I put my stores of bucktail and peacock herl to work.
Funny enough, it worked. As soon as I got back from school I began catching striped bass using sparse flies, drifts, and swings. I was having a blast. It felt so satisfying to read something, execute what the writing said to do, and have the desired result.
I (also) realized something very important. This whole time I had been looking to you and Ken for absolutes. But there are no absolutes in fishing. There are only problems and solutions. As I began to re-read Striper Moon and currentseams I started to understand the true message behind both works. That message being this: Objects do not catch fish. People do.
I began to learn that there was no one fly, or one technique, or one rod, or one fly line, or one anything. Every fishing situation is different and it takes a creative angler to solve the riddle of each one. It was with this relization that I stopped looking at Striper Moon and currentseams like they were the Bibles of striped bass on the fly. These works are shared knowledge, not commandments.
Through the help of currentseams I have become a more creative angler. I have embraced the greased line swing, the floating line, and have even created my own fly as a solution to a fishing problem. Thank you for keeping alive the old traditions of striped bass fly fishing and for sharing your insights with the world. Keep up the good work and I cannot wait to read your next post.”
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Thanks for making my day, Sam.
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If you want to catch the fish that not everyone can catch, then don’t fish like everyone else.
TroutFishingStripers