Hot Weather Stripers and God Bless the USA

Having missed my annual Dorado escapade in Mexico last week, I was itching to cast a line somewhere, anywhere, to satiate that primal urge. So, I set my sights on the Lake and Forebay, which had been getting hotter than a firecracker on the Fourth of July. The mercury was rising, and the wind was whipping up in unpredictable swirls. This is the time when stripers, those wily bastards, gather in massive, writhing schools around the Trash Rack pumps, their spawning frenzy making them easy pickings if you know the tricks. Hell, if conditions were just right, and those schools were lurking at less than 30 feet, a simple 58-second count with a T14 rated at 7ips would have you hauling them in like there was no tomorrow.

What better way to celebrate Independence Day, that grand commemoration of our Founding Fathers sticking it to the Brits on July 4, 1776?   Or Trump sticking it to the Democrats on Jun 27, 2024 (I told you so.)   Fishing, my friends, fly fishing!

When I mentioned my plans to some friends, they reacted like I was planning to stroll naked into a hurricane. “Heat advisory warnings, you know!” they squawked, forecasting a blistering 105 degrees with barely a whisper of wind from noon till the witching hour of 5 PM. I laughed it off. I’d fished the Amazon and Mexico during their hottest spells—San Luis Reservoir didn’t have a prayer of matching that humid inferno. Armed to the teeth with ice, cold water, and chilled fruit, I set out for what I imagined would be a deserted lake. A few foolhardy comrades decided to join the expedition—misery loves company, they say, but I wasn’t worried one bit. With the morning solunar peak slated for 11:30, I aimed to hit the lake by 9:00 AM.

Most of the action last week had been around the racks, especially the south tower, where water pumps out of the lake and into the forebay, creating an undertow teeming with stripers and shad. When I arrived, I saw Frank and Tim staking out the south tower, both with guests in tow. Generous soul that I am, I left the racks to them for the morning and headed to the Dam at the Bay of Pigs instead. The rocks had been a goldmine this year, especially after I hooked a 30lb monster a month ago. The lake’s dearth of baitfish had driven the big boys to the rocks, where they hunted for shrimp, crayfish, gobies, and panfish.

After landing a couple of nice fish using the slow downhill jigging technique, I sought shade at the racks. The sun was a merciless beast, but a constant 5mph breeze on the water made it bearable. When the breeze died, you could feel the heat clawing at you. By 9:00 AM, it was already in the 80s, and by noon, it soared into the 100s.

I hit the racks around 1:00 PM to find Frank, Tim, and Brian hard at work. The fish were all on the south side, and I watched Frank and Tim pulling them in like clockwork. The upwelling from the racks was a frenzy of shad, and I caught half a dozen chasing them in open water. No question about it—stripers shadow the shad on the fringes. Targeting shad, I hooked several stripers, though the shad seemed to be in a finicky mood today.

Frank packed it in around 1:30, leaving Tim to claim his spot, and I slipped in behind the south tower. Using Livescope, I saw huge schools of stripers, catching them one after another. Tim and Roland left around 2:30, but not before both had their fill of fish. Even when I started at 2:30, the fish were still ravenous in 30 feet of water, the Livescope showing them dancing up and down the column.

With Tim gone, I told Brian to fish the south tower from the shade next to me. Brian, a liberal but a damn good caster, and I spent the next couple of hours talking and hooking fish. Brian left at 4:00, and I fished solo for another hour, relishing the perfect, scorching weather on a still lake, the last boat standing.

It was an incredible day but not for the faint of heart.  Four boats of fly fishermen easily released over 100 fish. Now, that’s how you celebrate the Fourth of July—stripers galore, the freedom of the open water, and the sweet, sweet solitude of a lake all to yourself.





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