Flyfishing for Stripers in muddy and cold water has always been challenging and often frustrating over the years. One. might say you have to be a Fool to even waste the gas trying to catch a fish in the Forebay. My goal was to test equipment today and hopefully get ONE fish for diner- its still Lent. Lately Im into making Striped Bass Congee with fresh stripers. I chose to fish O’Neill Forebay today even though the Lake looks perfect with all the trees in the water now. Reports from the Lake have been dismal despite what looks like ideal water levels. The fish in the lake according to Roger George Guide Service are still in shock from the high water events and cold water. I think most of the regulars know that and 17 boats beat me to the forebay this April Fools Day morning. I got to the Kiosk and the guys there told me a 52 incher had been caught in the morning before I arrived and had already left to weigh in for the state record. I ate that hook line and sinker. April Fools!
Despite the muddy water and cold temperatures, the weather was great, with almost no wind and warm temperatures. This would typically be the perfect recipe for a successful fishing day, but with only four fish caught in eight hours, it was clear that the conditions were not optimal. I upgraded my Garmin Livescope replacing my 10 inch 1042 xsv with a GPSMAP 1242xsv. Basically, its jut a bigger monitor. This unit was the largest one I could buy that still is compatible with the HELM app on ActiveCaptain. My eyes aren’t getting any younger and its worth the upgrade since I look at it more than television. HELM lets me mirror the sonar to my IPhone or Tablet which I can record and look at later. Its hard to believe that this feature is no longer supported on the newer Garmin Units. The recordings I make and study when I get home are priceless. There are lots of things you can not see unless you watch the videos in reverse or scrub them at high speed. Another case of Old school being better than new tech.
TheLivescope was the key to success today but not without lots of refusals. The Livescope which uses sonar technology to provide real-time images of fish and other objects in the water, gives me a target and tells me if my flies and retrieves are being ignored. Without it, it’s unlikely that I would have caught any fish at all.
I changed flies continuously until 2:00 and was still fishless after 6 hours and hundreds of casts. I started out with the regular stuff – size 1 Delta Smelt patterns with no luck and refusals. I took my pulse discs off because I thought the action actually scared the fish today. I tried different colors in Black, Pink and Scud Orange. I fished a large Dan Blanton style Chartreuse and Blue Flashtail Clouser with no luck. I could see on the sonar that I was getting the fly positioned close but the fish would not move to the fly. The suspended fish would react and refuse but not chase. I finally decided to try a non weighted suspending fly and fish it dead stick which is a tactic that has worked in the past. I fish these flies on a t-14 OBS with short strips and wiggling the fly. The Craft fur Fly has lots of micro motion when its fished like this and sometimes a fly just sitting in front of a cold suspended Striper sitting on the bottom will get the fish to slowly come over to it an eat. Its hard to fish this way with weighted flies. I caught 4 fish using this technique but it was not easy either.
When fishing in cold water, it’s important to consider the fish’s metabolism. As the water temperature drops, the fish’s metabolism slows down, making them less active and less likely to chase after fast-moving prey. This means that a slower retrieve and dead sticking is likely to be more effective in cold water. The stripers I autopsied for dinner today had completely empty stomachs – not even midges or shrimp. They are also beginning to morph into their pre spawn biology. My largest fish today was a fat and healthy 8 pounder.
Today was the first trip out with the One Piece Hardy Zane Pro 8 wgt and I am very happy with this new rod as the replacement for the Orvis Heilios II one piece 8 wgts which are no longer being made or repaired. These rods are just as light in the hand and swing weight as the Orvis, Also , they are faster in the butt section than the Helios and cast with more power. My thanks go out to Hardy and George at Lost Coast Outfitters for getting one of these to me.
Next stop is going to be the lake and fish the trees! When that turns on, its going to be big time fun with the Panoptix Livescope since the last time it happened in 2018, Livescope wasn’t invented. Game on!