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NY, NJ, CT, RI Edition
July 01, 2009
Volume 20 � Number 7


Salt On The Fly
by Anthony Alessi


Every fishing season is different. I guess that is part of what makes this sport so interesting. So far, it seems that this season will be remembered for the never ending cold water temperatures. This crazy weather pattern we have been stuck in has meant cooler than usual air temperature and, hence, colder water. I choose to believe that this may mean good fishing right through the summer with no summer doldrums due to warm water. You never know, though, things could work out just the opposite. We will just have to wait and see.

One thing is for sure, the season so far has been superb. Since mid-May we have been having a grand old time with stripers in my neck of the woods, that being the Long Island Sound from Lloyds Neck to Cranes Neck. For those fishing from the beaches along this stretch there has been no shortage of top notch action with bass from school size right up to the mid-twenty pound range. I say top notch fishing for fly anglers. The spinning rod crowd hasn't had it quite as good. I can't tell you how many nights I have been on the beach in the past month hooking bass after bass while guys around me throwing plugs would shake their heads in frustration and then walk off the beach while the fish that ignored them for hours were still feeding in frenzy, an arm's length away. Hey, I have been there and done that and I guess we all have. My good fortune and their bad fortune is due to one thing...sand eels...and lots of them. Particularly small sand eels are more specifically the reason why the spinning rod crowd has had a tough time. I'm sure they have had their innings with the fish though.

Every night is different. Even with the fly rod and some sand eel imitations that I would consider deadly I have spent hours some evenings casting to acres of breaking bass that would not touch my fly. Luckily, even on those nights, things would change for the better once it got dark. To be more precise, the fishing, and catching, on these nights would improve vastly about an hour after full darkness fell. It would go something like this...

I would arrive at the beach just before dusk and, like clockwork, the fish would show and begin chasing sand eels up and down the beach as far as the eye could see. My blood would start to pump wildly, as each and every time this would be quite a sight to see. So many fish! I would cast and cast and change flies over and over again to no avail. There were just too many sand eels present and my excellent imitations would just get lost in the crowd. Then, right at the end of dusk and the beginning of night it would end. Everything would just go quiet. The first time this happened, though, I had this hunch that these bass were too frenzied to just swim away and stop feeding just because the sand eels had burrowed into the sand for the night, so I waited around for awhile. It was gratifying to see that my hunch was right on. The fish would adjust their tactics and start routing up the bait with their snouts and chasing it to the surface. Little by little the feeding would grow into a frenzy again just like before dark but with one key difference. Instead of there being clouds of sand eels for my fly to get lost in, there would be just a few sand eels that would flee from their beds towards the surface after a bass would come along and disturb them. This made for ideal conditions for my fly to now get noticed as now the bass were searching for individuals to chase instead of just opening up wide and swimming through clouds of bait to feed. Their change of feeding method was my good fortune. Some week nights, recently, I have walked away from a feeding frenzy at three o'clock in the morning after catching and releasing more than twenty- five or so bass and being the only soul on the beach for hours. Nights like that, to me, is what it is all about. Just plain, delightfully satisfying.

It is not like I haven't had really good fly fishing during daylight hours this season though. I have been out with my good friend, Captain Vinny Catalano, of Joey C. Charters out of Stony Brook, a few times and he put me on to some of the biggest bass I have come across this season. Fish into the high teens and low twenties. Awesome fly-fishing indeed.

You can see some of the photos from his recent trips at . If you are not familiar with where to fish on the Long Island Sound and would like to get a shot at the kind of fishing that I have just described, go to Captain Vinny's website and get in touch with him. You will be glad you did.

If you prefer doing it on your own, take out a Hagstrom map and look up Sunken Meadow State Park. This is a great place to find bass on the beach when sand eels are in this area. The fishing can be excellent anywhere from west of the jetty all the way east to the mouth of the Nissequogue River. For more information and to pick a good supply of the right flies, stop in at Campsite Sport Shop on Route 110 in Huntington Station. Richard, Carmine or Alberto will be more than happy to plug you in to some of the best fishing this area has to offer. Tight lines.

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