Fishing for stripers is incredibly popular in the US and we were lucky enough to meet one of the many skilled fishermen who enjoy this species. During the International Fly Tying Symposium in November, we met the talented guide and striper-fisher Joe Cordeiro, whom we persuaded to write a little about his fishing for what can be called the USA’s national fish – the striped bass og just stripers.
Thanks for sharing some of your knowledge with our readers, Joe!
Boston Harbor striper on the flyBy Joe Cordeiro
Now that the striper season has ended and the fly-tying season has just begun, the memories of the past season remain steadfast in my head. As a fly designer for stripers and other species that reside in the saltwater, the constant vigilance to fish those flies are a must for success. I have always had a strong strategy to develop fly patterns that work. We can always catch the attention of the fly fisher .. but tried and true on- the water testing is the only way to see if the fish will hunt those designs. Designing flies that work take some time to test and validate. The proper color, size and movement that mimics a bait you are to match are crucial to the success of the strike.
It was July 11, 2022 we had an opportunity to fish with Captain Vinny Simeone, Strom Busters Charter’s out of Boston harbor. It was a calm start at 5:00 am and the anticipation of catching larger than slot fish was on top of all our minds. The past few weeks had been very productive for captain Vinny, the pogy pods had been very plentiful in the harbor. On the way out of the harbor and entering the shipping lane we all noticed large flocks of big gulls. As we headed towards the gulls, a large whale breached as it was feeding on those pogies that have become a mainstay of bait. These pogy bait balls have been very wide and span significant amount of depth in the water column. We all knew we need to have artificial bait that replicated the size and the color of those pogies. The captains fishing tackle comprised of spinning gear with multiple types of artificial baits. I brought along my 12 weight fly rod and a plethora of large flies from pogy, mackerel and large silverside imitations. Once I saw the large pogy balls of bait I tied on my flatwing style “pogy” fly. It is a white fly with a large profile with multiple feathers placed flatwing style on an Ahrex 7/0 Bluewater hook. The feathers extend about 14 inches and have a layered amount of white and natural grizzly feathers with a tapered profile feature. The body is comprised of layered long white bucktail and has a red underbelly. The finishing touches are the top has peacock herl as long as the longest flatwing feather and has very large jungle cock feather eyes.
As we maneuvered amongst the other vessels that had been congregated around the pogy bait balls the captain proceeded to locate the fish on his side scan sounder. It wasn’t long before we had come upon a large school of busting fish on the pogies. The crew proceeded to cast large artificial bait lures using the spinning gear the captain provided, as soon as the lure hit the water the fight was on. I was positioned with my fly rod at the bow of the boat and the captain positioned me perfectly to place my fly within the busting fish. The 12-weight fly rod was surely going to be needed for these very large stripers. The spinning guys hooked up and brought in above slot limit fish to the boat. Massachusetts recreational fishing law is size limited to only 28-35 can be taken as table fare. These fish were in the 40-to-50-inch range. As soon as the spinning guys had their fish hooked and in control, I managed to cast the fly into the herd of busting stripers. I placed the fly on the edge of the busting fish and immediately had a tight line after only one strip of the fly. I was amazed at how fast this 43 inch fish took the fly and proceeded to sound, not once but multiple times. One of the crew had set his watch timer, once I had hooked it up, it took a total of 19 minutes to bring the fish to the boat and safely placed her back into the water.
It is an adrenaline rush when you’re fishing such a large fish. The fight was tiring not only for the fish but for myself. Landing the fish of this size takes some skill as there is always that opportunity the fish can “spit” the fly. This happens when fighting the fish for long period of time, it creates enough force that it widens the hole the hook is attached on the lip. Always maintaining a very tight line while fighting the fish as to not allow any “slack’ is crucial to success. I was very fortunate to have stuck the fish in the fattiest part of her lower lip in the side of her mouth. Once the fish came to the boat the captain netted the fish and was placed on my lap for a “grip and grin “picture with the captain. This took only a minute to complete as we proceeded very quickly to place the girl back into the water unharmed and still wet.
The flatwing pogy fly worked, this is one that will become a staple in my fly bag for future fishing expeditions. In fact, I will be putting this fly onto the flat-wing web site for people to purchase. If you’re interested in seeing all my design, please visit the www.flat-wing.com.
I look forward to creating more memories and valuable testing in the next striper fishing season . It is only 5 months away, now back to the designing vise for more fishable flies tied on Ahrex hooks.
Fly designer and fishing guide at Flatwing.