Grundlevontrap

How to: Schoolies

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Hi all,

 

ive been a LMB bass fly angler and have it down to the most microbial level. However, late June 2017 I bought a 9 weight salt rod and an intermediate line and hit the estuaries for the first time.  My first outing, with a clouser minnow, I hammered them in sandwich MA for about two weeks. I then started fishing in an estuary in * RI and caught 1million shad with maybe 10 stripers thrown in using all different types of flys. I have been out 5 times this year and have caught just one 12 inch bass. Everyone around me is killing it catching fish after fish. I have yet to repeat my performance last spring and I don’t know what I need to change. Again, my go to set up set up is an intermediate line with a clouser, I let it sink for about 10 seconds and do a normal every second strip like everyone around me catching fish. What is the variable I am missing?

 

 

Edited by TimS
Overly specific location removed - estuary in RI is more than enough info to get helpful responses :-)

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You are fishing like a one track pony. There is no magic formula . You have to find out what works on the day. The finding out is the actual joy of fishing.

Reality is that the last thing you want is to be told what to do ,not that it would,work anyway. If it did you would just be the Dude following instructions. Not much fun in that.

 

Why stick with ten seconds if that did not work? Why stay with same retrieve and same fly and same fly line. Why blindly copy others.

The challange is the drug.

 

Enjoy.

 

Mike

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I don't know if you live in Mass or in RI but that is not important at this time. It sounds like you have the right setup for Stripers but that is no guarantee of fish as you have learned. Even with the right equipment and the right fly will for all intensive purposes will not bring success everytime. Sometimes it is best to take a deep breath and stand back and watch the other guy and what they do and how they fish the water before you just wade in. In many cases it comes down to location, location, location. You have to pay attention to the water and where you fish it and how you do that, 

 

Stripers do not stay in one spot and the water comes up and goes down and just because you are getting fish for a bit you have to adapt during the day, if things stop happening you have to move, sometimes moving 20 or 30 feet is all it takes. 

 

Learning the structure of the water you're fishing is one of the most important things you can ever do. If you ever go to a place to fish and there is someone there before you get there, there is a reason for that.

 

What Mike said is so true, it really comes down to putting things into perspective. I think the best way to put it is if I spend 8 hours on the water and I catch 3 Stripers I would say it was a very slow day, If I put 8 hours on the water and catch 3 Snook, it was a great day. We all start out not knowing much and we learn as we go, fishing proficiency is a progression and is slowly acquired, we have all traveled down that rod. Just enjoy the walk.

 

 

Edited by bonefishdick

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Like BFD said, take note of the people around that are catching you to see what they're using...it's possible that the intermediate isn't getting you deep enough to get the fly in front of the fish, or maybe you need to change flies, or switch to a different size clouser.  Being in the right location is obviously important, but if people next to you are catching fish, then you just have to find out what the fish want. 

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It is also HOW you fish it, almost moreso than WHAT you are throwing. Sometimes a swing with slow retrieve is all that will work. Sometimes a fast two-handed strip keeping the fly near the top is all that will work. You just have to figure out HOW they are feeding moreso than WHAT they are feeding on. I have been out at times when my buddy is throwing a 9" flatwing and I am throwing a clouser and we are both catching fish because we were fishing them in a similar manner. He also fishes an intermediate line almost exclusively, and I fish a floater almost exclusively and use weighted flies to get down when needed.

 

To make it easier on yourself and to help you maintain focus, go out with a handful of white clousers, chart/white clousers, and maybe an all white deceiver, to a spot and tide you know holds fish, and experiment with different presentations and retrieves. This way you won't constantly be wondering if you should change flies since your options are limited. Honestly 90% of the fish I catch are caught on two or three patterns. I think many others may say the same. 

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33 mins ago, capefish4231 said:

It is also HOW you fish it, almost moreso than WHAT you are throwing. Sometimes a swing with slow retrieve is all that will work. Sometimes a fast two-handed strip keeping the fly near the top is all that will work. You just have to figure out HOW they are feeding moreso than WHAT they are feeding on. I have been out at times when my buddy is throwing a 9" flatwing and I am throwing a clouser and we are both catching fish because we were fishing them in a similar manner. He also fishes an intermediate line almost exclusively, and I fish a floater almost exclusively and use weighted flies to get down when needed.

 

To make it easier on yourself and to help you maintain focus, go out with a handful of white clousers, chart/white clousers, and maybe an all white deceiver, to a spot and tide you know holds fish, and experiment with different presentations and retrieves. This way you won't constantly be wondering if you should change flies since your options are limited. Honestly 90% of the fish I catch are caught on two or three patterns. I think many others may say the same. 

Absolutely 100%. 

 

Often times its its entirely the retrieve. One day last week they wanted to super slow...almost not even moving the fly. Two days later I needed to strip my clouser like a mad man for a few seconds then pause. The next day steady moderate retrieve was producing bites. When I was younger I used to think stripers were just dumb bass that would eat anything...far from it. They can be selective more often than not. And as capefish said, not necessarily selective on fly color or pattern...but retrieve.

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Stripers are not dumb but I also think that catching them is not as difficult as people would like to make it to be. I think that knowing the structure you're fishing is more key getting fish than people think. That is why when you see people who will walk onto a beach at high tide and everything looks the same and they proceed to march down the beach a half mile before they wet a line, they know that all the structure under that high water is not they same. If I walk a beach that is new to me, I will not spend a lot of time in one spot, I tend to walk and fish walk and fish, if I start catching then the first thing I do is turn and check landmarks behind me for future reference and later at low tide I look for what made this spot produce. More often than not I can easily see why it did.

 

If I know the water I am on I am very seldom fishing blind even though to the casual observer that is what it looks like I am doing.

 

Lots of emphasis is placed of patterns and size and rightfully so but I find that to be important in fewer instances than most people think.  I have seen it so many times when there can be 6 or 7 guys standing close to each other who are using different flies and different retrieves and they are all catching. 

 

It was stated that most people only use a minimum of patterns during the course of the season and for good reason, they produce and they have confidence in what they are using. That does not mean that the educated angler is not prepared for unique situations but that is a learned thing and really comes with experience more so than something easily taught. We all learn from our mistakes. Be a good Boy Scout, be prepared.

 

It was also mentioned that sometimes it is the retrieve and this is true but I will bet hard money that just about all fly guys use the same retrieve just about all the time and constantly catch fish. 

 

I have said this over and over that we all have a natural rhythm when we retrieve a fly,  even  when people are told to try a different retrieve and they try it and when you look back at them 15 minutes later they are back to what they always use for a retrieve. 

 

Stripers have a very unique way when they take a fly, in most cases when they take a fly after they eat it, they pause and then turn and then they go, you never ever feel that. Stripers sometimes will but not often will they rock your socks on a hit.

 

When they don't spit the fly is when you then feel the line go tight after the pause, turn and go or the line goes tight on the next strip if they haven't spit it. In many cases people are getting hits and they never know it. That is why you need to watch the fly line all the time on the retrieve. A fly line has a natural sag between strips, if the line doesn't sag there is a reason for that. More often than not it's a fish. 

 

Even the guy who has been fishing the salt for a long time and normally does well is going to have a day when no matter what they do they just can't seem to buy a hit, we have all been there, it keeps us humble.

 

 

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1 hour ago, bonefishdick said:

Stripers are not dumb but I also think that catching them is not as difficult as people would like to make it to be. I think that knowing the structure you're fishing is more key getting fish than people think. That is why when you see people who will walk onto a beach at high tide and everything looks the same and they proceed to march down the beach a half mile before they wet a line, they know that all the structure under that high water is not they same. If I walk a beach that is new to me, I will not spend a lot of time in one spot, I tend to walk and fish walk and fish, if I start catching then the first thing I do is turn and check landmarks behind me for future reference and later at low tide I look for what made this spot produce. More often than not I can easily see why it did.

 

If I know the water I am on I am very seldom fishing blind even though to the casual observer that is what it looks like I am doing.

 

Lots of emphasis is placed of patterns and size and rightfully so but I find that to be important in fewer instances than most people think.  I have seen it so many times when there can be 6 or 7 guys standing close to each other who are using different flies and different retrieves and they are all catching. 

 

It was stated that most people only use a minimum of patterns during the course of the season and for good reason, they produce and they have confidence in what they are using. That does not mean that the educated angler is not prepared for unique situations but that is a learned thing and really comes with experience more so than something easily taught. We all learn from our mistakes. Be a good Boy Scout, be prepared.

 

It was also mentioned that sometimes it is the retrieve and this is true but I will bet hard money that just about all fly guys use the same retrieve just about all the time and constantly catch fish. 

 

I have said this over and over that we all have a natural rhythm when we retrieve a fly,  even  when people are told to try a different retrieve and they try it and when you look back at them 15 minutes later they are back to what they always use for a retrieve. 

 

Stripers have a very unique way when they take a fly, in most cases when they take a fly after they eat it, they pause and then turn and then they go, you never ever feel that. Stripers sometimes will but not often will they rock your socks on a hit.

 

When they don't spit the fly is when you then feel the line go tight after the pause, turn and go or the line goes tight on the next strip if they haven't spit it. In many cases people are getting hits and they never know it. That is why you need to watch the fly line all the time on the retrieve. A fly line has a natural sag between strips, if the line doesn't sag there is a reason for that. More often than not it's a fish. 

 

Even the guy who has been fishing the salt for a long time and normally does well is going to have a day when no matter what they do they just can't seem to buy a hit, we have all been there, it keeps us humble.

 

 

To elaborate on one of BFD's points, it is often better to fish a single pattern that you have confidence in than to have a myriad of different patterns to try to 'match the hatch' or whatever. Saltwater baitfish all look pretty similar. Having confidence in what you are throwing will subconsciously allow you to fish that fly better since you aren't second guessing yourself at every turn. Also take every outing as an opportunity to learn, whether you catch fish or not. Even if you get skunked, you most likely learned something about that spot at that tide, or that weather condition, or time of day, or whatever it may be. The point is pay attention to those small seemingly trivial details as they all come together to create an ideal fishing environment. 

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Sometimes, when you're fishing an estuary with a fast current, you need more than just an intermediate sinker. In fact i never use anything besides a fast sink in most situations like that...in my case, I'm referring to something with a 30 ft (sometimes slightly shorter) integrated head. And if you do that, you'll want to shorten you're leader to something like 4-6 ft (A side benefit is that it'll turn over clousers even that much easier)...and if you don't want to buy several lines for different scenarios, you can rig up with an interchangeable shooting head system)

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I am in the same camp as albacized, when it comes to lines, most of my fishing is on beaches and flats with the water being up to 9 or 10 feet deep at high tide and that is when I use my intermediate. When I fish estuaries I use either a 26 or 30 foot sink tip depending on whether I use my 8 or 9 wt. in either 250 or 300 grain.

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I'll just throw in; If you are going to fish in the salt, why limit yourself to just schoolies? I know you are just starting out in the salt and don't want to confuse; but throughout the season other fish come along to target, like blues, albies, and then there are the not schooley bass; the bigger guys and gals. Maybe with bigger flies and before dawn or after dusk. Lots to play with; good luck and be patient.

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21 hours ago, bonefishdick said:

Stripers are not dumb but I also think that catching them is not as difficult as people would like to make it to be. I think that knowing the structure you're fishing is more key getting fish than people think. That is why when you see people who will walk onto a beach at high tide and everything looks the same and they proceed to march down the beach a half mile before they wet a line, they know that all the structure under that high water is not they same. If I walk a beach that is new to me, I will not spend a lot of time in one spot, I tend to walk and fish walk and fish, if I start catching then the first thing I do is turn and check landmarks behind me for future reference and later at low tide I look for what made this spot produce. More often than not I can easily see why it did.

 

If I know the water I am on I am very seldom fishing blind even though to the casual observer that is what it looks like I am doing.

 

Lots of emphasis is placed of patterns and size and rightfully so but I find that to be important in fewer instances than most people think.  I have seen it so many times when there can be 6 or 7 guys standing close to each other who are using different flies and different retrieves and they are all catching. 

 

It was stated that most people only use a minimum of patterns during the course of the season and for good reason, they produce and they have confidence in what they are using. That does not mean that the educated angler is not prepared for unique situations but that is a learned thing and really comes with experience more so than something easily taught. We all learn from our mistakes. Be a good Boy Scout, be prepared.

 

It was also mentioned that sometimes it is the retrieve and this is true but I will bet hard money that just about all fly guys use the same retrieve just about all the time and constantly catch fish. 

 

I have said this over and over that we all have a natural rhythm when we retrieve a fly,  even  when people are told to try a different retrieve and they try it and when you look back at them 15 minutes later they are back to what they always use for a retrieve. 

 

Stripers have a very unique way when they take a fly, in most cases when they take a fly after they eat it, they pause and then turn and then they go, you never ever feel that. Stripers sometimes will but not often will they rock your socks on a hit.

 

When they don't spit the fly is when you then feel the line go tight after the pause, turn and go or the line goes tight on the next strip if they haven't spit it. In many cases people are getting hits and they never know it. That is why you need to watch the fly line all the time on the retrieve. A fly line has a natural sag between strips, if the line doesn't sag there is a reason for that. More often than not it's a fish. 

 

Even the guy who has been fishing the salt for a long time and normally does well is going to have a day when no matter what they do they just can't seem to buy a hit, we have all been there, it keeps us humble.

 

 

Great post!

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On 5/14/2018 at 5:16 AM, bonefishdick said:

 Sometimes it is best to take a deep breath and stand back and watch the other guy and what they do and how they fish the water before you just wade in. In many cases it comes down to location, location, location.

 

good advice here. It is possible that in desperation I may have used binoculars to spy on guides on trout rivers, to see exactly what they were rigging and how they fished ;-) 

and as Mike says, change it up. No response in 20-30min means change: 

- depth (countdown)

- retrieve 

- location 

- fly 

It's complicated in the salt by tides etc so that spots become good and bad just by the passing of time and water movement and light and weather.. 

 

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