Monday, August 24, 2015

Summertime Stripers...The Return Trip

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While this weekend was fishless for me as I had to work both days, the upside to that is that I got out for a few days mid-week to make up for it. Ever since that first successful striper trip I'd been wanting to make a return visit and luckily for me I've got a great fishing buddy who also can take some time off during the week. A few phone calls later and plans were made to meet Wednesday around noon at the campground by the boat ramp we were using to launch out of. Much cooler weather than we experienced during our first foray had us deciding to pitch a couple of tents instead of spending another night in a flea bag motel. Unfortunately the cooler weather had some unwanted repercussions as well...the night before we were heading out the new generation schedule refreshed on my computer screen and to my dismay the month or more of constant generation we'd had was suddenly over. Wednesday they were scheduled to run water for a short 4 hours and on Thursday it looked like the river would see it's first 24 hour period with no generation for more than two months! Not exactly what we were hoping for, but like the weather, water generation is just something you have to live with and make the most of when you're handed less than stellar conditions.
We arrived to a cloudy, rain soaked river that had an obvious muddy tint to it after several hours of hard rain during the morning hours. It seemed as though all of the odds were stacking against us having another trip like the first one but we were there and still excited to give it a valiant effort anyway.
At least it looked like the rains were over for the most part so we set our tents up and then threw our gear in the boat and headed out.
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The low water conditions not only diminished our chances at actively feeding fish, it also limited the amount of river we were able to fish due to the constraints of the boat we were using. We soon found out that we only had about 3/4 of a mile of water upstream of the boat ramp that we could safely navigate under these water conditions as opposed to having the entire 8 mile tailwater to roam under previous conditions. We took each blow dealt us and moved on, Fall like weather in August and we were drinking beer and fishing mid-week instead of working, what was the issue I was complaining about?
This trip was a classic example of why I never try and over-analyze the conditions, it's fishing and you just never know what the fish are going to do regardless of all the conditions. To our surprise (and relief) we ended up sticking our first striper on our initial drift downstream and the action continued on throughout the evening.
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Other than a few slow stretches when the water seemed to dirty up on us from the generation we ended up having a stellar day of fishing. Before the day was over we had landed probably twenty fish between the two of us, mostly 3-5 pound schoolies with a couple of bonus bigger fish thrown in.
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At one point the action was so furious we couldn't make it out of a short 50 yard stretch of water, each time a fish was caught we'd switch up on the oars and before we could get settled back in the other guy would be hooked up. This was definitely streamer fishing on steroids!!
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We were putting the boat back on the trailer just as the last of the suns light was fading on the Western horizon in a brilliant orange hue.
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We finished off the evening with a good, greasy burger and fries and then headed back to camp for a beer and a cigar.
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The next morning we woke to clear skies and cool Fall temperatures that required a light jacket and a hot cup of coffee to start the day.
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A quick peak at the water verified that the river had dropped back out and we'd be dealing with low water conditions for the duration of our fishing today.
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With only half a day to work with we gave it an honest effort but came up against some of that tough fishing we'd actually been expecting all along.
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We spent about 5 hours on the water and only boated two fish, one for each of us. After a day like we had just experienced it was definitely a little anti-climactic to finish the trip that way, but honestly we were both still jacked up enough from the day before to even give it much thought.
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Very seldom does a return trip meet your expectations, it just never seems as good as what you remember, on this trip though I'd venture to say that our expectations were exceeded!!
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  1. A winner again Jeff. Question what's the water temp where you were fishing?
    Also we must watch our beef intake. On second thought what the hell.

    1. Thanks Alan. The water temp of the tailwater we're fishing is between 65 and 70 degrees right now. The situation is that this is an 8 mile tailwater with a bottom release dam that supplies cold, oxygenated water. This tailwater then dumps into a much larger river where the stripers spend most of their time throughout the year. During hot summers the fish move up into the colder tailwater to enjoy the water temps as well as snack on the shad that have done the same.
      No worries...I ate salads and rice cakes for a week after returning home!!

  2. I'd love to switch things up and fish for stripers from a boat. What a great looking trip this was. Cold hamburgers and fries?

    1. Thanks Howard...I'm really experiencing this style of fishing for the first time and have to admit it's a complete blast. Big flies and big fish that will give you a real workout in the rivers currents.
      Nah...we made a short trip into a little town after fishing for a quick meal. Nothing like a burger and fries after a long day on the water.

  3. Some nice fish. I still have yet to catch a striper on the fly and I live right near prime waters for it!

    1. If you have the opportunity to get after some stripers I'd take advantage of it. They love to eat flies and do so with reckless abandon under the right conditions.
      One thing I can almost won't find a freshwater fish that gives you more of a battle on the flyrod than a striper.