Guest post written by fly fishing guide and Postfly ambassador Abbie Shuster, of Kismet Outfitters.
I’m not sure about you, but as a kid I dreaded that early morning wake up call. Now it’s different – it’s time for schoolie striped bass. It has that welcoming ring to it that gets me right out of bed. As the weather warms it brings with it the largest migration on the planet.
Hidden under the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, out of sight from humans, there is a whole lot going on. As the water warms along the East Coast there are millions and millions of bait fish swimming north and as we all know, where there’s bait there’s our beloved friend chasing after them. Yes, stripers are on the move! Leading the pack are those aggressive and fearless schoolies looking for a good meal.
What To Throw
That’s where we come in, cast a deceiver in front of a schoolie and wham they’ll eat it! It doesn’t even have to be a perfect cast, it’s early in the season and we are all working off some rust from a long New England winter. These hungry fish are not particularly picky during the early spring, so most flies work.
I carry a lot of white and olive Clouser minnows along with flies imitating the herring and alewife that also show up with the stripers. Of course I mix in some flashy flies for those spicy stripers that won’t eat the dull stuff.
Where To Throw It From
Catching schoolies from shore is a fun, productive way to welcome our dearly missed friends. Jetties make for excellent fishing. They provide a barrier that interrupts the current making for a buffet of food. Jetties, especially at the mouth of a river or inlet, have proven to be very active during the spring months.
The backwaters are a little warmer than the ocean, especially by late afternoon and will hold fish during the early season. The warm outgoing tides are far more productive than the incoming tides during the early season.
When To Throw It
One of my favorite springtime webpages is On The Water Magazine’s Striper Migration Map. This resource tracks the progress of the migration with the schoolies leading the charge up the coast. I check it religiously, each time with more excitement as they draw closer to my home waters of Martha’s Vineyard. The schoolies are spunky and young and are on the move, so you should be too!
Have The Right Gear Ready
When I am fishing for schoolies I will check out several beaches throughout the day, never staying at one too long. Fishing from a boat for schoolies gives you the ability to cover a lot more water. Focus on riffs and structure in the water. The schoolies tend to hug the shoreline so look for a blitz close to shore or areas right outside a bay or inlet. I like to use sinking or intermediate line and play with the depth of my fly with each cast. Sometimes you will find that sweet spot where all our friends have gathered.
So get out there my fellow anglers, the fish are coming and they are hungry! Be kind and gentle to these baby stripers so we can reacquaint ourselves with them each season. This year they are small, but they will grow up–and hopefully they’ll grow up big.
Catching schoolies takes the right fly and a fresh leader–especially if there are a ton of bluefish around. Make sure you always have the gear you need by getting them sent right to your door every month with a Postfly subscription.