Saturday June 4, 2023 After my fishless day at the Forebay last week, I had a hunch that things were about to change. The sonar showed a significant number of fish, and the weed growth was slightly behind schedule. Once the weeds reach their peak, it’s a sign that the bait will flourish, and the hungry fish will gather in their usual spots. It’s usually an exciting time for fishing.
Yesterday, I met up with Steph and Dave at the lake to catch the action when the forebay comes alive. Steph arrived early and had an unfortunate knot failure while trying to reel in a massive PB striper. It’s always a tough lesson to learn, but failures often lead to growth. The powerful striper managed to strip the coating off Steph’s fly line after hitting his SV clouser near the powerhouse. Personally, I believe that the allbright knot is more reliable for leaders of 20lb and above.
I focused my efforts on the familiar areas around check 12, fishing the edges of the growing weedlines with the help of Livescope. In less than 8 feet of water, I landed a beautiful 24-inch fish. Around noon, Steph and I reconvened and agreed that the fish were present but not interested in biting. Despite seeing numerous fish all around, they seemed to be ignoring our flies. I tried various patterns and even resorted to Fly and hardware A Rigs, but none of them enticed the fish. Steph was particularly eager to help Dean catch his first stripers on a fly, so we decided to head to the Big Lake for the afternoon without much persuasion.
At 12:30, we launched our boat on the Big Lake and were met with unexpectedly calm waters. The wind reports were unreliable, but we were thrilled to find massive schools of young stripers near the trash racks and upwelling. We positioned ourselves about 500 yards apart and our Livescopes were teeming with fish, millions of three-year-old stripers. It didn’t take long for us to start hand stripping them in one after another. The schools were still hanging around 30-40 feet deep, so it took us around 45 seconds to get our flies down. But after catching 20 fish, we actively sought out shallower schools to minimize waiting time. We found plenty of shallow schools near the upwelling, roughly 500 yards away from the trash racks. It turned out to be a record-breaking day in terms of numbers, with both Steph and I catching 20-30 fish per hour between 1:00 and 5:00.
When the lake conditions are like this, it’s an excellent opportunity to introduce beginners to fly fishing. Although it may seem monotonous to catch hundreds of 12-17 inch stripers on an 8-weight fly rod, using a 6-weight would challenge the “normal” clause in the rod warranty. It’s advisable to have some Motrin and Theraworx on hand and drink plenty of electrolytes every five fish or so to prevent muscle cramps. It’s definitely a marathon fishing experience, but it only happens once in a while for about a month. I even had a streak of landing ten fish on ten consecutive casts.
Steph had to keep a date with his wife and left at 2:30 with an impressive boat total. Meanwhile, Dean, his beginner fishing buddy, managed to catch five fish and was quickly grasping the art of striper fishing. To our surprise, he even landed two fish over 18 inches, which was quite uncommon considering Steph and I hadn’t caught any fish of that size among the smaller ones in the massive schools.
A couple of weeks ago, when Vaughn and I were focusing on the smaller fish near the racks, I observed on Livescope that the larger fish tended to be deeper and closer to structures. Both Vaughn and I noticed that the bigger fish we caught were always around structure. With this in mind, I decided to target larger fish exclusively during the last couple of hours of the day. I fished with longer counts near the racks and managed to catch in a dozen fish over 18 inches.
Interestingly, fly sizes didn’t seem to play a significant role. The notion of “big fly, big fish” didn’t hold up, and I couldn’t help but laugh at how such small stripers could engulf a 6-inch fly so deeply. Surprisingly, all the larger fish were enticed by 3-inch size 1 flies, particularly Delta Smelt and Threadfin Shad patterns. I must admit that the 3-inch SV clouser proved its worth as well, despite my initial inclination to ridicule it. It has become a fly I refuse to leave home without.
I kept a few fish and used my new Bubba Electric Fillet Knife to clean them. If you frequently clean fish, I highly recommend getting one of these knives. On another note, I had a disappointing experience with my A Rig as I failed to catch any fish with it. Despite its excellent casting ability and appealing appearance underwater, it received no attention from a single fish. Go figure. Additionally, upon returning home, I noticed that one of the EZ lube hubs from my trailer axle was mysteriously missing. I have already ordered a replacement, but it means I won’t be able to return to the lake for a few days. During this downtime, I plan to modify the boat so that the livescope and networked front screen can be placed on the port side. This way, guests in the bow can cast over the water instead of over the boat while still having access to the livescope data.