STRIPED BASS: BLOWN AWAY

Field and Stream - - GIANT -

FLY

White-and-Chartreuse Peanut Bunker

LINE

30-foot 250-grain sink tip

The wind on New Jer­sey’s Rar­i­tan Bay was crank­ing that April af­ter­noon and the sur­face chop was build­ing. We were drift­ing so fast in my friend Eric Ker­ber’s skiff that I doubt I could have held bot­tom with 6 ounces of lead. Yet some­how, Ker­ber was manag­ing to keep a weighted rub­ber shad in the zone long enough to oc­ca­sion­ally smack one of the stripers we were mark­ing 15 feet down. All I wanted to do was get a fly in front of one.

Heavy sink tips gen­er­ally stink to cast, but in a stiff wind they do have an ad­van­tage be­cause they have some punch power. My only hope was to use the wind to my ben­e­fit.

In­stead of cast­ing be­hind the boat into the wind, I wound up and laid as much line as I could straight to­ward the bow with the wind. By the time my hands were in strip­ping po­si­tion, the line was sweep­ing past the boat. I let it straighten be­hind the boat for just a mo­ment be­fore I be­gan strip­ping. I don’t think I moved the fly 10 feet be­fore a fish big enough to put me in the back­ing took a shot. The 22-pounder that de­liv­ered the blow re­mains one of my top three heav­i­est fly stripers.

For the rest of the tide, ev­ery time we marked fish, I ei­ther con­nected or got bumped. Ker­ber would only hit with his shad ev­ery cou­ple of drifts. My take­away: It’s al­ways worth try­ing the fly even in ter­ri­ble con­di­tions, be­cause ev­ery once in a while, there will be some­thing about the pre­sen­ta­tion that turns the fish on more than any­thing else.

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