Fly Fishing for Striped Bass

I was a striped bass novice and definitely a novice at fly fishing for stripers: I couldn’t cast well for starters, and even the thought of fly fishing at night, of course prime striper time, was impossible.

I was fishing a small river in Southern Maine and had caught a couple of schoolie stripers, and was ecstatic. They were probably 18 or 19 inches long, and I caught them on the outgoing tide near low, casting across the mouth of the river and letting my fly swing across the current.

I had two flies, leftys deceivers, and had lost one in the weeds. The sole remaining fly was pretty beat up – remember, I was a novice and didn’t have much gear. I didn’t even have any spare tippet, and it should have been replaced as it had some abrasions from scraping on rocks.

Well, you know it always looks better from the other side, so I carefully crossed the river a little upstream, which was easy near dead low. I started fishing the other side of the mouth, again casting across the current at about a 45 degree angle and letting my fly swing across the current.

Casting cross current at about a 45 degree angle and letting the fly swing in the current with no retrieve can be deadly on stripers and other fish too.

There were more rocks on this side and some heavy seaweed growing on the rocks, and I was a bit scared about loosing my only remaining fly – I didn’t even have any more in the car or at home. I had to stop fishing soon because it was getting close to dark, and as I mentioned before, no way was I competent enough to fly fish in the dark. I was such a novice that I didn’t even know that twilight and dusk were great times to fish for bass!

Wham, something slammed the fly right near the end of the swing and the edge of the seaweed covered rocks where the current stopped. I didn’t hook the fish, but I could tell exactly where it hit by the disturbance on top of the water. One more cast, same as the previous one, same swing across the current, and wham again. This time the fish was on!

Notice the fish hit at the edge of the current. Stripers like current lines.
They also like hanging out by rocks and other obstacles in the current.

The striper took off for the deep blue sea. This one was bigger than the previous two, although how big I had no idea. I had no thoughts of a monster in my head, just a size class or two bigger, maybe 22-25 inches I hoped? But the fish fought hard. Maybe it was bigger?

Change of plans! My fish no longer wanted to head to sea, it wanted to head into the rocks. They don’t call them rockfish down south for nothing.

I panicked. I wasn’t worried about losing the striper, but losing my sole remaining fly. That would mean no fishing for the next couple days.

The fish went right into the rocks, and seaweed. No more motion. I was stuck in the seaweed growing on the rocks, maybe 50 feet out. I tried to wade out to save my fly, but no way. It was just too deep.

I pulled on the line steadily yet slowly and it started moving. I seemed to have a ball of seaweed the size of an office desk or perhaps a Volkswagen on the end of my line, but at least it was floating free of the rocks now. I carefully and slowly edged it up the current line, horribly paranoid that my line would break and the fly would be gone.

After an endless 5-10 minutes, I had the monster seaweed wad near to me. I carefully dug through it, searching for my fly at the end of my line.

Surprise! The fly was there, and there was a pretty big striped bass still on the end on the fly. The fish was very alive and I carefully brought it and the remaining seaweed to shore.

"Damn beautiful striper" I thought, probably aloud! It was definitely my biggest fly rod striper, but how big? Had to be about 36+ inches I thought,. No monster, but a wonderful fish.

I measured it against my flyrod and it was about one piece of my 4 piece flyrod long, which meant it was only about 25-27 inches long. “Huhhh?” I thought as I kissed the fish (yes, really) and gently released it. It was close to dark now, too dark for me to fly fish, so I waded across the river and hiked back to the car, a bit perplexed but happy.

As I got to the car it hit me. “I’m a friggin Bozo!” I said. I had my new three piece flyrod, not the old beater 4 piecer I had been using. I had a measuring tape in the car and put it against the rod – the Striper was 38-40 inches long, not 25 or 27 inches like I thought. It was almost certainly a legal “keeper!”

I smiled. I would have let the fish go anyways. I had caught my biggest striped bass ever, even after I was sure I had lost it, and it was a foot longer than I thought too.

Better yet, I hadn’t lost my only remaining fly, and I could fly fish for stripers again tomorrow.

Signup for updates!
No Spam Promise!  I hate spam as much as you do.

    125 x 125 Fly Fishing
 Like this site? Signup for updates!
 No Spam Promise!  I hate spam as much as you do.
 striper flies kayak flyfishing striped bass flies striper fishing by state Maine striper fishing Privacy Policy

© Copyright 2008-2012, Ted Demopoulos, ted at flyrodstripedbass dot com