It was 10 p.m. on Father’s Day at the Nissequogue River, and five-pound striped bass were rising like trout in a Hendrickson hatch for as far as I could see in the dim ambient light. I landed five, and I left ‘em biting because I had to work in the morning. The fly was… what to call it? A Woolly Bugger with a tail of olive-dyed grizzly saddle hackle instead of marabou, tied flatwing style.
What they were rising to, I have no idea. There were tiny baitfish around, but the bass were rising, not rushing bait schools. The stripers’ behavior made me wonder if there was a worm hatch, but when I shined my light on the water I didn’t see any. All I know is the wide river was full of fish grabbing stuff that drifted down to them on the outgoing tide.
The bass were big enough to put a hell of a bend in my 8-weight and pull off lots of backing. But once they had made their point, they grudgingly allowed me to drag them over, switch on my headlamp and pluck out the hook.
This wasn’t a blitz. It was individual bass feeding at or near the surface, and the tide made it easy to swing a fly over the rises. Rising or swirling at the the surface isn’t unusual behavior for schoolie bass, but you seldom find so many doing it so consistently. It’s nice to hit it just right once in a while.