Short Beach Striper Contest
Houstock Saturday April 23, 2011. A good amount of hearty fly anglers gathered at Short Beach in Stratford CT, under the Main Pavilion #1. They gathered there to celebrate fly fishing and all the wonderful camaraderie that goes along with it.
Though a newbie to fishing stripers on the fly, I expected problems when I left my house at 6am and it was snowing with a steady 25 mph headwind! When I arrived at Short Beach to start fishing at 8am the conditions had only worsened. I couldn’t believe the amount of guys there that I saw gearing up to brave the torrid winds and rain. “My hat goes off to these guys” is what I was thinking as my mental conviction for fishing already had my body in motion tugging my waders over my hips. Automatically my pace quickened as the rain pour down. After rigging my rod and seriously contemplating whether these were actually fishable conditions the mainstay of anglers headed off the headwall onto the beach. Lined up at the mouth of the river waist deep in water they appeared as only shadows as the fog settled around them. “Its definitely a lefties wind out here” , I heard someone say. Being a greenhorn I asked my friend Brian what in the heck that meant, exactly. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my being a left handed person was the reason that I was able to cast my line into the wind without taking a set of weighted clouser dumbbells to the skull! (*Important thing for a novice to know, pain being the main consequence for ignorance*)
As I peered around I notice that right handed anglers were actually having to turn around and cast, then on the last false cast fire their lines into the wind then turn around and start their retrieve. “How Ingenious!”, I thought as I truly recognized the skills these men who fish the salt as their daily beat have acquired. This point was merely solidified as I observed my next totally “Fishy” technique. A nearby fisherman cast his line and immediately tucked his rod under his arm. I thought he had to scratch his nose or something and then the magic appeared. With rod tucked firmly under arm his hands started a double stripping motion feeding the line into his stripping basket. I envisioned his fly flipping and darting along the bottom just as the resident baitfish must when being attacked by schools of striped bass. I noticed several times his hands instinctively change gears creating small differences in the timing of his retrieval. I talked with several anglers who stated that this double strip method can really make the difference in hooking up in the salt. The faster presentation and erratic action implied on the fly can really turn on stripers and other salt water species feeding on schools of baitfish.
After fishing for a while I joined a few anglers observing off to the side with their backs to the wind and hands snuggled warmly in pockets. Talking about everything from weather to politics made the harsh conditions a bit more tolerable. As noontime rolled around the fishermen mustered at the pavilion for some warming food and fellowship. Stories of fishing and travel flew across the table in all directions as fisherman exchanged tales and fishing knowledge as they enjoyed their lunch. Some great prizes were raffled off including rods, reels, flies, and a tying bench. The fishing itself at the event was poor at best with 40 anglers or so landing only 3 fish for the day, the biggest being around 21 inches. The quality of gentlemen attending this event made a miserable day memorable!
I would like to thank HFFA, CT/RI, & MIANUS/TU along with Paul Dinice for all their hard work setting this event up. I look forward to attending next year as well. Anyone interested in finding out more about HFFA, CT/RI, & MIANUS/TU can email Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org