New England Stripers

John Hicks

Owner and operator of Sea Run Pursuits
So since moving out to the New England area, I haven't had much fun in the fly fishing department. That is until now. Last Friday my co-worker and I went out on his center console striper fishing. I took along my custom 8wt that James Mello made for me. Jim was excited to see someone fish with a fly rod on his boat. He is a gear guy, but wants to break into the fly fishing thing. I was more than happy to help him out on this one :D Free boat ride to the striper areas, hell yeah I'll teach you to fly fish. :thumb:

So I showed up at Jim's house promptly at 8am, since the tide was going to be at its highest about then. We were going to fish the falling tide by his house in Beverly Mass. We headed out and started trolling gear as Jim wanted me to catch a striper. This was my virgin striper experience. On our ride out I caught a couple schoolies (small ones for all you striper virgins). Jim pulled in a 28" keeper on some trolling gear, this one I took home to eat. Then we pulled into Beverly harbor and mored up to a bouy(sp). We noticed a storm front comming through and figured we would button down the hatches and weather it through. The storm was pretty impressive and we got a little wet, but when it's 85 degrees and raining who cares if you get wet right? By the way we did see just about everyone else heading for harbor as the storm was comming.

After the rain subsided it was like the striper gods took notice on us. All of a sudden Jim yells out undo the line stripers are breaking. I look about 300 yards in front of the bow and see the now calm water white with gorging mouths attacking bait. Jim slid us just down wind of the blitzing fish and I readied myself with my fly rod. Two false casts and I shot out one of my best casts of my life. I saw the pinpoint D-loop straighten out in front of my and my fly landed just in front of the moving white-water froth. I let my fly sink for a two count and I started, BAMB my line stopped dead in the water. I lifted my tip and pulled softly with my line hand. Fish-on. I could feel the bass pulling line from my hand. I worked quickly to get him on my reel. After about two runs and a bulldog fight I got the Striper to the side of the boat. I lifted him out of the water and turned to show Jim my fish. Jim could care less he was deep in the fight with his own fish. I somewhat remember Jim yelling something like "Get your line back in the water!" I without thinking pulled the hook and released my fish. The bass by this time were breaking all around us. It was like we were in the middle of a rainstorm with all of the raindrops on the water being hungry mouths devouring baitfish. After several more minutes of this and Jim pulling in two fish and me my one. The stripers were gone as quick as they came. Mostly due to a couple of jerks blasting across the bay full bore to end up 30 yards from our boat.

After all of this was done I felt like I had just gone through combat. My hands were shaking my heart was pounding. My ears weren't working right, everything sounded as if I was listening under water, all muffled and far away.
It took me a full ten minutes to settle down enough to make a cohearant sentence. Jim, a seasoned pro at the striper action turned to me and said,
"John, now you know what it's all about." I sure did, I knew what life was like with a high like that, but like so many drugs the high does not last long enough. I wanted to find that school and keep hitting them all day. Unfortunatly Jim had to get home, he was going to the Tom Fogarty concert that night and had stuff to do around the house.

We started heading back to the house and trolling just in case something hit. Jim wanted me to man the trolling rod while he drove back. After about five minutes I could feel that old feeling I had as a kid comming back. I hate just watching a pole. This is what drove me to stop fishing for so many years. I started to zone out and think back to the action of an hour ago. The feeding mouths, the tug at my line........ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ I woke up to the drag on the trolling rod burning up under the pressure of a hot fish. I looked over at the bent over rod screaming for mercy from the weight of the fish. Jim cut the motor and I pulled the rod from the holder. This fish was big, and it wasn't stopping for nothing. I tightened the drag down and held on for the run to stop. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ "Jim this fish is heading for Canada." I could see the line getting less and less on my reel and more and more on the water. Finally the fish stopped its run and I started working it back toward the boat. After several more smaller runs the fish was within 20' of the boat. I still hadn't seen what I had on the other end. Then the fish rolled sideways. A huge silver flash entered Jim and my eyes, "Holey Sh#$# that is a huge striper!" Jim yelled. The fish saw us too and it was a bulldog. A couple minutes later the fish was beside the boat and it was time for the hero shot. We lifted the 20+ lb striper out of the water and Jim took two shots of me holding the fish. The striper measured out at 36 inches and we estimate that it was over 20lbs.

Nice fish man, and congrats. I drive up to Maine every summer around the end of June to fish Casco Bay and the Kennebec River for a week or so. Man those stripers sure are fun on the fly rod whether it's a 36" fish or a schoolie. Hope you catch many more.

Tight Lines,

This is my granddad and I. He caught the pig on the Kennebec, and I was in Casco Bay on a foggy morning.

John Hicks

Owner and operator of Sea Run Pursuits
For sure, I am addicted. Too bad I'm moving to North Carolina in the winter. Oh well, I guess I'll have to fish for Durado instead.
Gotta love the stripers.

NE is the place to go if you want to really get into them. However over the past few years, I have noticed a decline in the number of big fish we were catching. Nonetheless, the number of total fish we landed is on the rise. Hopefully CCA will find out why, and all those little schoolies will live long enough to be a 40 incher on the end of my line.

John Hicks

Owner and operator of Sea Run Pursuits
Yeah it really is fun. I had to try it. Everyone out here does it. As a matter of fact finding anyone that wants to fish for trout this time of year is just about impossible.


Active Member
That's a nice fish. Welcome the striper fishing. You might want to go to a
10wt if your going to be fishing from the beach. Big flies and surf are the norm in the fall.


Active Member
Sounds like you had a great time John. About the only thing I miss about N.E.(except a very few people) is the boil on a flat calm morning. About the only other thing to get the adrenalin up like that is the dirt ball that comes screaming in and puts them down.
If you're not planning to already, see if you can get your buddy to get you on a school of blues, unbelievable. Don't forget the SS leader.

John Hicks said:
Too bad I'm moving to North Carolina in the winter.
too bad?!? NC has awesome striper fishing -- Outer Banks in the winter and Roanoke river in the spring. not to mention false albacore, redfish, tuna, dolphin, spainish mackeral, king mackeral, bonito, spec trout, etc...

Oh man, gotta love the striper blitz. I'm heading out to the Cape for four days to try my luck. Last time i was out all i had was blues on the fly but hopefully we'll find some stripers. Congrats!

Steve Buckner

Mother Nature's Son
Great report and congrats on the fish. I wish we had some striper action out here...I've had conversations with lots of folks about them and they sound like an absolute blast. Did you guys see or catch any blue fish out there with the stripers?


Active Member
Stripers and bluefish are found together during the spring and fall runs along the Atlantic seaboard. I always carry some 80lb mono with me in case I run into some bluefish. I'll tie a loop at the end of my leader then cinch on about a foot of the heavy mono for the bite tippet. I like this much better than wire. I haven't had a blue bite thru yet and I'll get a 1/2 dozen before I re-tie.