Schoolie Striper Bonanza


I walked right past it.  That quiet tidal pool was bland and unassuming.   I was heading towards the surf and faster, moving water.  Surely the striped bass would be chasing sand eels further down below.  It was getting close to low tide and I covered water, flogging the water fruitlessly for ninety minutes.  The reports had been so promising and two fellow anglers were covering the same stretch.  They mentioned they caught 15 yesterday, around the same spot.  I was surprised and slightly dejected.   It’s awful easy to have highs and lows when angling is your passion!  I walked back towards the car.  This was my only time/window to fish Southern Maine.  A season of anticipation going down the drain.  I’d experienced decent success here, years past.  Darn!

As I headed back up the tidal flats, I returned past that sleepy tidal pool.  My instinct said give it a try and make a cast.  Besides, I was now only 2 minutes from the car.  My first cast yielded a spunky 12′ schoolie that charged my fly within seconds.  From then on, it was game on.  I began hooking fish with ease.  My clouser finally became mangled after a dozen different fish and I needed to change flies.  If I went 2 or 3 casts without a strike, something was off.

Over the next two hours, my family and I enjoyed schoolie striper fishing at it’s finest.  With my assistance, my sons and wife were  able to bring in small striped bass.  It was a hoot!  The good fishing continued 30 minutes into the incoming flood tide.  We landed over 30 fish.  It was a complete treat to enjoy easy, family fishing and see so many juvenile striped bass.  In talking with other anglers, it appears that the adolescent striped bass population is the strongest it’s been in years.  Our experience confirmed this.  Later on, my boys broke out the large, saltwater spinning rods and practiced casting.  Abandoning my fly rod, I even managed to bring in two more fish on a 4″ Yozuri, top water waking plug.  What great fun to see schoolies crash on a surface moving plug.  Once my boys experienced success, they were more motivated to cast on their own and practice.  Like most things, success breeds success.  At their age, it’s easier to use a spinning rod than casting an 8wt fly rod with a clouser into the wind.  It’s just fun to expose them to fishing and to let them experience some independence.

The Southern Maine coast continues to offer a nice blend of beach, food, family vacation options and saltwater fly fishing.  If you’re looking for a family vacation, give it a try!  There are eager schoolie striped bass there and it could be a great way to dive into saltwater fly fishing, or introduce a beginner to the sport.  If you’re looking for a particular zone to fish, there’s plenty of fish between York and the Saco River.  Or, consider visiting the top notch Eldredge Bros. Fly Shop.  If you’re an avid fly tyer, this shop has some of the most well stocked materials you’ll find in the North East.

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Craig Dennison

This is Craig and I host Fly Fisher's Workshop. My fly fishing experiences include plenty of travel (Montana/Florida/North Carolina/Maine) and a few years part time guiding for trout. While I primarily target trout and steelhead, I still manage to chase warm water species and enjoy chasing stripers and bluefish. I'm a 3rd generation fly fisher trying to share the passion with my two sons!

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