Friday, May 4, 2018

Fly vs. Jerk


When my buddy Tyler Nonn calls with an offer of fishing, one must be willing to drop everything in order to take advantage of the opportunity. As owner and operator of Tidewater Charters, he plies his craft in the Chesapeake Bay, the Florida Keys, and Alaska offering first rate all-tackle and fly fishing trips to major gamefish like striped bass, cobia, tuna, and more. With a booked schedule and a long list of friends who want to go fishing, that phone call is one I look forward to. When it came this Spring, I immediately canceled the plans I was driving towards, turned around, and drove back home to pack. That night I drove to Tyler Snuffer's house, picked him up, and made our way back down south to meet up at Tyler N's house. We had a great seafood dinner before heading to bed. Awaking early, the final preparations were made and we embarked for a day of sight fishing in windy, overcast, and stormy conditions. 

Perfect.

The outing played out like an episode of Fly vs. Jerk. If you haven't watched this Scandinavian fishing show, fly anglers compete against gear anglers for pike. In this case, I was on the bow with my fly rod in hand awaiting an approaching pod of migrating striped bass. Both Tyler's were in the tower, one with a 14 inch. soft plastic Hogy, and the other with line attached to a live eel. They exercised extreme patience throughout the day by giving me the first shot. When my fly hit the water, both Tylers would cast over both of my shoulders. With three different lures in the water at the same time, one would think that we would slay. In this case, the conditions were the great equalizer. Sometimes, we didn't see the stripers before they saw us, or the wind would push us into the approaching fish too soon. Timing and placement was key. Both Tyler's had hookups but getting a good hook set and maintaining it from the tower was difficult. 

After a long day of searching and avoiding storms, we had a half hour of sunlight during the peak of high tide. With the sun, we had our best chances of the day with several lures being blown up at the surface and brief periods of tension. Finally, we found an actively feeding pod of fish. With buck fever, my fly line tangled as I launched a large hollow fleye into the fray. Shit. Tyler immediately cast a hogy and hooked into a 44" striped bass. It was an awesome fish. Jerk won. 










Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Anadromous


A Maryland Hickory Shad

There isn't much to say, that hasn't already been said, about the annual Spring migration of shad into the Chesapeake Bay and the lower Susquehanna. Every year I try to make it out at least once to catch hickories below the Conowingo Dam. I typically pick an overcast day and drive about an hour after work to fish for a little bit before dark. This allows me enough time to find a few pods of fish and catch my fill before driving home. This year, I fished the big river in high flows. The most difficult part is navigating the high water, the treacherous bank, and finding a window of casting opportunity with a long rod and skagit head. I prefer the shortest heads possible because I am often forced to fish the tiniest of spots that are unoccupied by other anglers. I've gravitated towards using OPST's Commando Heads because I can easily form an anchor and a D-Loop in a confined space and can resort to a single hander if needed. This year, I've been using Loop's new line of rods the Opti NXT. It has a deep progressive action that loads skagit heads well. It responds to a nice and slow casting stroke that lets the rod/line do all of the work. I dig the smallest rod in the lineup, the 5110-4. An anadromous hickory shad combined with the 100,000+ cfs of the Susquehanna is an absolute blast on this setup and any other light spey rod. Next Spring, I look forward to trying some new water and specifically targeting Americans as they move into the Delaware River.