Bushido on the Rocks

Sunrise Fishing on an Inlet Jetty

 

A  Bushido Shad rigged on a leadhead jig was deadly for stripers prowling among the rocks.
The “meaty” Bushido tail created a thump that the stripers couldn’t resist.
I swear the bluefish are working for tackle companies. Not only do they destroy soft plastics, they almost always know where to stop biting – just short of the hook. They must have inside information.
A switch to a pink Bushido Shad was fine with the stripers.
They came one after another until it was about time for me to quit.
I found redemption with the last fish of the morning. This bluefish was overzealous with his bite. He paid the price with a quick visit to the rocks before being released.

A Quick Update To The List

I’ve been busy with both fishing and non-fishing things, and neglected the fly fishing species list for several weeks. Here’s a quick update to get it up to date. In no particular order we have:

Fallfish
Smallmouth Bass
Redbreast Sunfish
Pumpkinseed
Green Sunfish

The 2019 fly fishing species list stands at 12 going into the second half of the year. That bodes well for reaching 20 by year end.

  1. Brook Trout – Salvelinus fontinalis
  2. Brown Trout – Salmo trutta
  3. Rainbow Trout – Oncorhynchus mykiss
  4. Creek Chub – Semotilus atromaculatus
  5. Bluegill – Lepomis macrochirus
  6. Landlocked Atlantic Salmon – Salmo salar sebago
  7. Hickory Shad – Alosa mediocris
  8. Fallfish – Semotilus corporalis
  9. Smallmouth Bass – Micropterus dolomieu
  10. Redbreast Sunfish – Lepomis auritus
  11. Pumpkinseed – Lepomis gibbosus
  12. Green Sunfish – Lepomis cyanellus

 

A Simple and Effective Shad Fly

  1. Lay down a bed of thread on the hook shank.

2. Affix the dumbell eyes or bead chains eyes of your choice. I like to add a bit of nail polish/head cement at this point.

3. Add a little lead wire behind the eyes, and tie in a a few strands of Krystal Flash to start forming a tail. Sorry about the blurry pic.

4. Top the Krystal Flash with marabou.

5. Top the marabou with 4 or 5 full strands of pearl Flashabou at an equal or slightly shorter length. Do not trim off the long ends.

6. Fold the long ends of Flashabou back, and tie in a few inches of metallic braid.

7. Bring the metallic braid forward in overlapping wraps to form a tapered body.

8. Wrap the long ends of the Flashabou forward with no gaps. This adds a smooth, pearl iridescence to the metallic braid. Build a head with thread and whip finish. Top the body and head with a thin layer of clear coat for strength.

9. Add the Hickory Shad to the 2019 Fly Fishing Species List.

The 2019 Fly Fishing Species List:

  1. Brook Trout – Salvelinus fontinalis
  2. Brown Trout – Salmo trutta
  3. Rainbow Trout – Oncorhynchus mykiss
  4. Creek Chub – Semotilus atromaculatus
  5. Bluegill – Lepomis macrochirus
  6. Landlocked Atlantic Salmon – Salmo salar sebago
  7. Hickory Shad – Alosa mediocris

 

To Net Or Not To Net

Safe Handling of the Landlocked Salmon

Landlocked Atlantic salmon are probably the most delicate fish I target. Keep them out of the water too long, they go belly up. Fish in warm water, they go belly up. Look at them the wrong way, they go belly up.

To add to the problem, they have no quit in their fight. They make runs, they jump, they bulldog. Once in the boat, they flip, they flop, they spin like sharks. They just don’t know when to give up. They’re too scrappy for their own good.

I started as a 100% netter. Any LLS I brought to boat I scooped up with a net, and brought it aboard. That seemed like the logical approach. Unfortunately, it just opened a new can of worms.

Typically, when you bring landlocks in the boat, they go ape shit. They have no regard for their own safety. They don’t just thrash a bit. They spin, and they spin fast. This snaps leaders, breaks split rings, and sinks in extra hook points. Possibly worst of all, that spinning will often roll the salmon up in the line or leader. That can cause physical injuries, but it also delays the release while you untangle them adding to their stress.

I have tried boatside releases. Just bring the salmon beside the boat, reach down with pliers, and pull the hook out. This can work well in the right situation. Add in a lure with trebles or a fly that you don’t want to destroy, and it’s suddenly a bad idea. Now, I rarely use this method.

The best approach I have found is a hybrid of the two. Net the fish at boatside, but don’t lift it out of the water. The fish will remain calm – relatively speaking. After the hook is removed, lower the net a little to create a pool in which the fish can recover. Once the fish is upright and free swimming, tilt the net below the surface. It will swim off.

If you are in a moving boat, do this at the stern. There will be slack water there. The fish won’t get pinned in the net. Recovery and release will be stress-free

With that bit of advice, here is Number 6 on The List, the Landlocked Atlantic Salmon, Salmo salar sebago.

The 2019 Fly Fishing Species List:

  1. Brook Trout – Salvelinus fontinalis
  2. Brown Trout – Salmo trutta
  3. Rainbow Trout – Oncorhynchus mykiss
  4. Creek Chub – Semotilus atromaculatus
  5. Bluegill – Lepomis macrochirus
  6. Landlocked Atlantic Salmon – Salmo salar sebago

Tracking Down Another Species

So back to “The List”. A warm day and a little free time presented the opportunity to chase down another flyrod species for 2019.

Right out of the blocks, I hooked up with a little wild rainbow. A pretty fish, but not what I was looking for. Keep working.

Stoneflies were fluttering around. It was nice to see some insect life. I won’t miss the winter.

A watersnake even came out to catch a little solar energy.

My next catch was a slightly larger rainbow.

Followed by a brown trout,

and another brown trout.

Finally, I hit pay dirt. On my first cast into a big pool that I call the “Chub Hole”, this beautiful specimen ate my nymph. The Creek Chub became number four on The List. The “Chub Hole” lived up to its name by producing several fish like this before it was time to call it quits.

 

The 2019 Fly Fishing Species List:

  1. Brook Trout – Salvelinus fontinalis
  2. Brown Trout – Salmo trutta
  3. Rainbow Trout – Oncorhynchus mykiss
  4. Creek Chub – Semotilus atromaculatus

Goodbye to Winter Stripers

I took one last shot at winter striped bass last week, and pulled some nice schoolies. The local lakes have lost their ice. Other species are readily available, and it’s time to give those stripers a rest.

Hello spring species! Now, I’m working on the early spring patterns that develop right after ice-out. I will see the striped guys again, but not until they are chasing shad and herring later in the spring.

The first landlocked salmon of spring ’19.

Preseason Prep Tip

Remove your trolling motor prop. Cut and unwrap any fishing line that may have accumulated last season. I’m told, if left in place, this line can reduce efficiency of your motor and even damage seals. You won’t know its there until you check.

Cabin Fever Stripers

Snow storms, schedules, and single digit temperatures have kept me off the water for a while. I was in need of some therapeutic fishing time. Small stream trout fishing wasn’t going to do it for me this time. I needed something a little bigger and a little more numerous, so I set off to explore a new option.

Normally, I’d say it’s too cold for striped bass in February. Over the years, I’ve heard a handful of magic numbers thrown out – 40, 42, 50 degrees. Fill in the blank for what temperature stripers start feeding. The fact is if a fish is alive and healthy, it eats. They might not eat very often or put forth much effort to do it, but they eat. If you find enough of them you’ll get bit, and if you find a lot you just might get bit a lot.

I tried a few different lures, but fell back on an old standby – the Fishbelly Hawg Shad. I switched back and forth between a 5″ and a 3.5″. They both proved effective. Alewife, Blueback Herring, and Common Dace were the colors I fished on this day, and they all caught fish.

Besides a quality lure like the Hawg Shad, there are three additional keys to success in these frigid conditions. The first and most critical is finding the fish. You can’t catch fish that aren’t there. Fish the best structure on waters that support large populations.

The second is using enough weight to maintain contact with the lure without overweighting the presentation. A little glide is good. Losing touch with your bait is bad.

The third is not over working the bait. Less is more when it comes to winter fishing. Fast, aggressive movements seem to turn these semi-dormant fish off.

My Northkill custom landing net was an important tool to have onboard. Sure a couple fish were held up for a quick pic, but a couple dozen more were released without ever removing them from the water. The rubber net bag was easy on their slime coat, and single barbless hooks came out easily. Winter is tough enough. Let’s not be any harder on the fish than we have to be.