If you follow our reports or send us questions, you know that we spend a lot of time striper fishing in 6 feet of water or less. Last season this passion for chasing Maine stripers in shallow water became a necessity, as our focus on the flats was absolutely the most consistent ticket to success. Both Gordon and I swear by soft plastics, tie our own jigs and carry boxes of various crank baits but our go to lure in the skinny water is a spook style plug made by Lonely Angler.
Fishing top water is a blast. Combine the visual stimuli of sight casting with the surface eruptions of a striper tail slapping, charging, and inhaling a floating lure and you'll be addicted. This is light-tackle spin casting at it's best.
Your casting accuracy is rewarded and there are times when this can be pretty technical and demanding fishing. Blind casting a spook can be a fantastic fish finding technique (I'll even remove all the hooks and prospect with one for fly anglers when sighting conditions are poor and the fish aren't waking or swirling on the surface) but key to success on the flats is training yourself to spot fish. Land any plug 2 feet beyond a 28 inch striper that is cruising in 28 inches of water and that fish is gone, in a hurry. We all talk about the importance of not "lining fish" when we're sight casting with a fly rod. You'd be amazed at how quickly a pod of striped bass flee when 10 lb. test braided line (diameter of 2 lb. test mono) lands on the water above them in these environments. Some days the bass charge the spooks from thirty feet away and swallow the whole plug with abandon. Other days your cast needs to land much closer ( but not too close) and at the proper angle to the approaching fish and you've got to convince that fish to eat it. Twitch, twitch...pause...twitch, slam.
Can you discover the pattern that drives the fish to eat on that particular flat on that particular day? Do they want a quiet, constant retrieve? Is fast and splashy the ticket? Will they hit the floating baitfish imitation again and again until you succeed at setting the hook or is it a one-and-done day? Can you tell the difference between a tail slap and a big bass trying to eat the plug? Do you have the patience to hold off on setting the hook until you feel the weight of the fish? Can you do all this an hour before dawn or an hour after sunset? How about when you spot a bass over 40 inches in 2 feet of water swimming towards the boat?
Every top water addict has their favorite spook-style lure. They all catch fish and they all entertain. If you've been dependent on poppers for surface action, you owe it to yourself to expand your repertoire. If you need to buy some tackle to help you through these early spring days of waiting for the bass to return, check out the Lonely Angler website. If you'd like to learn more about how and where and when we fish these incredibly productive lures, give us a call or send us an email to book your outing.
Capt. Peter Fallon