A Striper Tying and Greased Line Swing Lesson

Neville has been following me for some time now, all the way from England. While he’s on holiday in the States this week, we had the time to meet up in Rhode Island for a lesson. We met at his rental in Point Judith, and tied a deer hair shrimp, my Grass Shrimp Solution, a Big Eelie, and then a Mutable Squid. That kept us busy for a couple of hours. Then we geared up and headed to an estuary to practice the greased line swing and its associated tactics. The tide was wrong, but we had moving water, and we even had a swing and a miss when Nev was stripping in his line to make another cast. (Teaching moment: the bass that chased his Ray’s Fly was small. Stripping a fly is a great way to attract small striped bass.) Neville is a very enthusiastic learner (he recorded much of our session on his phone) and I have only the highest amount of respect for those who dive into a subject with such eagerness and passion. Well done, Nev!

All the way from Merry Old England! Here’s Nev putting his TFO TiCr five-weight through its paces. He’s well on his way to becoming a dangerous striper-catching machine.

The requirements of a successful grass shrimp fly pattern are…well, they certainly don’t include realism

Edward Ringwood Hewitt was one of the leading innovators in American fly fishing and fly tying. The Skating Spider…Bivisisble…Neversink Stone…these are all Hewitt creations. Hewitt was obsessed with finding out everything he could about what made fish eat. To wit, he created a list of seven factors that made a pattern successful, and ranked them in order of importance. Gary LaFontaine, another keen student of feeding behavior and effective fly design, lists them in his masterwork Caddisflies. Number one is the light effects of the fly, above and below the surface. Number seven, the least important, is accuracy of imitation of the naturals.

So it should come as no surprise that The Grass Shrimp Solution, a ridiculously simple pattern constructed of a few strands of bucktail, some braid, and a hen feather, excels at fooling striped bass. It has no eyes, no tail, no carapace. But it does have the essential bite triggers that stripers are keying on. In Caddisflies, LaFontaine makes a very big deal about what fish are looking for when they’re feeding; it’s often a single, essential characteristic of the natural. The Grass Shrimp Solution offers a translucent silhouette when viewed from below; the soft hackle and sparse feelers provide movement; and when held on the dangle, the fly creates a wake just like the naturals. Impressionism. It’s what’s for dinner.

If you placed the Grass Shrimp Solution in a shop next to patterns with shells and eyes, no one would buy it. Fortunately, striped bass don’t browse through fly bins.

Reminder: New CT Striper Slot Starts May 26

This is from an email sent out today by the CT DEEP:

“Greetings fellow fishing enthusiasts. CT DEEP is sending you this email to let you know that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) took emergency action earlier this month to implement a 31-inch maximum size limit on recreational striped bass fisheries along the Atlantic coast. For more information about the ASMFC emergency action, please read the ASMFC news release available at http://www.asmfc.org/uploads/file/64529753pr10AtlSripedBassEmergencyAction.pdf as well as the informative FAQ page that was compiled by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries available at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/striped-bass-emergency-action-frequently-asked-questions-faq

To come into compliance with the ASMFC emergency action, CT DEEP will implement a new 28-31” harvest slot limit for striped bass effective May 26, 2023. The new 28-31” harvest slot limit that will become effective on May 26th means that any striped bass that is less than 28 inches or greater than or equal to 31 inches must be released without avoidable injury. This regulation will apply to all waters of the state (marine and inland district).

Questions on the new striped bass harvest slot regulation can be sent via e-mail to deep.marine.fisheries@ct.gov , or call 860-434-6043 and leave a voicemail and someone from DEEP Marine Fisheries will return your call as soon as possible.

ASMFC is required to hold four public hearings within 30 days of any emergency action to provide information on the action and obtain public comment. ASMFC will hold four virtual hearings and has released a hearing schedule. Members of the public may also submit written comments by sending an e-mail to comments@asmfc.org or by mail to:

Emilie Franke

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

1050 N. Highland Street, Suite 200 A-N

Arlington, VA 22201

The virtual public hearing schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, May 17 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. (Completed)

Monday, May 22 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, May 23 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 31 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

To register for a virtual hearing, please go to this link:


and use the dropdown menu to select the hearing date you plan to attend. Hearings will be held via GoToWebinar, and you can join the webinar from your computer, tablet or smartphone. If you are new to GoToWebinar, you can download the software by (https://support.goto.com/webinar/help/how-do-i-download-goto-webinar) or via the App store under GoToWebinar. We recommend you register for the hearing well in advance of the hearing since GoToWebinar will provide you with a link to test your device’s compatibility with the webinar. If you find your device is not compatible in advance of the hearing, please contact ASMFC at info@asmfc.org (subject line: GoToWebinar help) and we will try to get you connected. We also strongly encourage participants to use the computer voice over internet protocol (VoIP) so you can ask questions and provide input at the hearing.”

Gotta let the big girls go.

“Two Hand, or not Two Hand” in the current issue of Surfcaster’s Journal

Another appearance in the online bible/journal/diary of surfcasting! Out subject in Issue 78 of Surfcaster’s Journal is the two-handed fly rod — 2Her for all you cool kids — and a little bit about how I made the journey from single hand to being able to laugh at the wind. It’s part story, part how-two, and it’s all designed to help you eliminate some of the mistakes I made along the way. Oh. Yes. There are fish to be caught, too…Surfacster’s Journal is a pay-to-read e-zine. You can get a copy here.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! CT man finds two-handed surf rod nirvana!
What strange brew is striper addict and master tea boiler Mike Oliver concocting? It comes in the form of a two-handed cannon called the “Out Front.”

Finally(!) on the striper board

I can’t remember the last time it was this late in the season when I took my first striper. It hasn’t been for lack of trying; although, to be fair, this was also the first year in eons that I did not partake in the mouth of the Housatonic in April Bass-O-Matic. When the moment came, all was in line with universe: Rock Island flatwing, herring nervously milling about, greased line swing with a floating line, the hammering strike of a bass feeding with confidence. Though our session was only 90 minutes, we (surfcaster extraordinaire Toby Lapinski and I) got into about a dozen slot and sub-slot fish between us. And, as the herring run winds down, I begin to notice that the grass shrimp swarm time is approaching…

As the clock ticked past midnight, it suddenly became my 22nd wedding anniversary. I usually do well when I fish on my anniversary. And to ensure the event was celebrated properly, I chose a Padron Anniversario Series for my late night smoke. (Photo by Toby Lapinski)

Wait…WHAT?!? Or, the ASMFC actually does its job

Wicked sarcasm aside, I am delighted to report — in case you have not yet heard — a major victory for striped bass conservation. We — those who understand the calamitous state of the striped bass fishery and the need to manage the resource sustainably — won, and won big. This week the ASMFC’s Striped Bass Board approved two historic actions to conserve the prolific 2015-year class and to improve the probability of rebuilding the striped bass stock by 2029. The Board initiated Addendum II and enacted an Emergency Action, which will implement a 28-31” slot for the entire coast effective as soon as possible and no later than July 2nd, 2023.

A hale and hearty thank you to all who have been sending in letters and emails and making their voices heard!

Here are more details, taken from a release from our friends at the American Saltwater Guides Association:

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Striped Bass Board Takes Decisive Action to Ensure Striped Bass Rebuild by 2029

ASGA applauds The Striped Bass Board’s unprecedented action to implement emergency action to address 2023 fishing season.

Arlington, VA—Earlier today, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Management Commission’s Striped Bass Board approved two historic actions to conserve the prolific 2015-year class and to improve the probability of rebuilding the striped bass stock by 2029. The Board initiated Addendum II and enacted an Emergency Action, which will implement a 28-31” slot for the entire coast effective as soon as possible and no later than July 2nd, 2023. Development of Addendum II will progress throughout the summer, but the included language has great promise. Had the Board not acted today, the odds of rebuilding would have remained unacceptably low at around 11-15% due to the dramatic increase in recreational harvest in 2022. While the road to striped bass recovery is still a long one, the Board’s strong conservation-minded action today can give the entire striped bass community hope that this stock will rebuild and that the Board can make the hard but necessary decisions to manage striped bass.

ASGA is incredibly thankful for the thousands of anglers, brands, and fishing guides who spoke up for the health of the stock and called on the Striped Bass Board to take action. The Striped Bass Board was not required to make any changes today—the Board’s action today represents an incredible moment for conserving and effectively managing the striped bass fishery.

“The conservation community spoke, and our voice was heard”, said Tony Friedrich, ASGA’s VP and Policy Director. “Fisheries management is a long arduous process. Science informed us that there was little to no chance of rebuilding the stock under the current system. We unified the community with one voice that demanded a better future for the resource and our children. Thanks to every angler, brand, and guide who spoke up and to the conservation-minded Striped Bass Board members who voted for the health of the resource.”

Over the next few months, ASGA will continue to monitor and provide updates on the ASMFC’s work on Addendum II. Rest assured, the striped bass stock is in a far better place today than a month ago, but it is far from rebuilt and out of the weeds. Thank you to everyone who shared their voice throughout this process and to those on the Striped Bass Board who took the bold step to ensure this iconic species remains on track to rebuild. ASGA will be following every step of the Addendum II process this summer and keep the entire striped bass community updated.


The Entire ASGA Team”

Not to worry, ma’am. You’re safe for now.

Bass report week of 4/10/23: Striper woes and smallmouth goes

A check of my records confirms it. By this date in 2018, I’d already landed a double-digit number of bass 10 pounds or greater. (And some of those were significantly greater.) This year, not so much. Not at all, really. I have yet to land a striper. I’ve only hooked one. The rest have been random nips and swipes from dinks. Where have all the big striped bass gone?

I have a couple theories. The first is that they (nor their smaller brothers and sisters) never settled into this mark for over-wintering. That explains the painfully slow fishing from January through now. The second is that absent any substantial number of over-wintering fish, there would now need to be a reason for them to be there. (Read: bait.) And the herring are in late this year. Wednesday night was the first time I saw any signs of those wonderful oily baitfish, and the stripers hadn’t yet got the memo. It’s not just my mark. I have a reliable report of another herring factory estuary that is currently infested with Alosa and there are — wait for it — zero bass on them. So we’ll wait for the next tide cycle for the chance to catch bass that can be measured in pounds.

Greased line swing fans take note: the only action I’ve had has come when I’ve been stripping the fly in at the end of the drift. Small bass will chase. Large bass won’t.

It’s been six months since I did something like this. (Insert heavy sigh here.) Photo by Toby Lapinski.

My smallmouth season doesn’t typically start until sometime in May. Not this year. Yesterday I went to explore a tributary of the Connecticut River, two marks I’d fished once, and one new one. Even though the water is fairly low, there was substantially more of it than the one time I fished it last June. The first mark gave me little current and stained water; no bites. The second held a few ginormous carp swimming around in lazy circles. Still a light stain, but more current. Easily some 20-pounders in the mix. It was at this mark that I hooked my first smallie of the year, about 13″. The last spot was not only a trying-to-catch expedition, but also to see if any fish had come up to prepare for the spawn. I know, a little early, but nature is always right on time. I didn’t see any signs of beds; I saw one smaller fish, and hooked another. I felt like that was a good way to spend two hours.

I hope you’re enjoying the weather. Me, it’s a yard work weekend. So I’ll be out, but not really enjoying it…

Striper Report 3/26/23: And the hits just (don’t) keep on coming

I don’t have much to report about last night’s outing, other than I fished hard, and well, and intensely, and for those efforts I was rewarded with not…a…touch. Ye Olde Striper Spot is once again revealing its pattern. Either: there are no fish there yet. They never set up for the winter (this was my third blank in three trips since January), the herring aren’t yet in, so I’d be foolish to go back tonight. Or: fish congregate in this spot during the winter because it’s a good ambush point, there’s some bait, current, and deep water nearby. Sadly, it’s been all Option A. So, we’ll stay home tonight and hope for the best during the next tide cycle as I really don’t need to be climbing into bed at 3am for casting and mending practice.

I haven’t had an Arturo Fuente Canones in years, so I jumped on this one when I saw it. It was the highlight of the evening. A very pleasing, long-lasting double corona. (That’s a Rock Island flatwing for those who are interested.) Now, where dem strip-ed bass at?

The ASMFC Striped Bass Management Follies, or: A Master Class in Procrastination

I know from procrastination. I’m a professional writer. I’ve been procrastinating since my days at Roosevelt Junior High. I advanced my grasp of the art form in college. And perfected it as an adult.

But I’ve got nothing on the ASMFC’s Striped Bass Management Board.

My best attempt at situation distillation is this: the Board was meeting on the issue of allowing the transfer of commercial quotas between states. They put the issue out for public comment last year. Of the thousands of conscientious stakeholders who responded, a whopping 98% voted in favor of NOT allowing transfers. So the board decided to…(Don’t bother with a drum roll. You probably know where this is going.) …kick the can down the road. Do further studies on the impact of commercial transfers, then come back to the issue in May. Not necessarily awful. But they didn’t even mention the option that the vast majority of stakeholders favored. It’s as if we didn’t exist. Tone deaf, bad form, and so characteristic of a badly broken committtee.

There are two more detailed analyses that I encourage everyone to read. The first is from Charles Witek’s blog One Angler’s Voyage: The Fastest They’ve Ever Done Nothing. The second is from our friends at the American Saltwater Guides Association, Striped Bass Recap From ASMFC Hearing. Both are highly worthy of your time.

At this point it would be easy for all of us to throw up our hands in frustration and quit. I exhort you to not do it. In fact, this should only steel our resolve. Some day, and that day is coming, we are going to win. And so will the stripers.

Waves pounding on the shore. That’s what we need to be.

“Beyond Cast & Strip: Presentation Flies for Striped Bass” Promo Video

Just a short promo for the upcoming Fly Fishing Shows in Marlborough and Edison. You can attend my seminar, watch a tying demo, or take a class with me. Here’s the schedule.

Marlborough Friday, Jan 20: 1:00pm, main show floor, Featured Fly Tier, Presentation Flies for Striped Bass4:30pm, Seminar, Release RoomBeyond Cast & Strip: Presentation Flies for Striped Bass.

Marlborough Sunday, January 22: Classes With The Experts, 8:30am-11:00amPresentation Flies for Striped Bass. You must pre-register for this class

Edison Friday, Jan 27: 2:00pm-4:30pmClasses With The Experts, Beyond Cast & Strip: Presentation Flies for Striped Bass. You must pre-register for this class.