Favorite Fly at Night [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Favorite Fly at Night

03-30-2003, 08:50 PM

I am going to be tying up a season's worth of flies in the next 6 weeks. I was looking for your opinions concerning your "go to" flies when fishing in total darkness or extreme low-light conditions.

In the past I have used black/purple/blue snake flies, dark flatwings and dark olive over tan clousers.

What flies do you use in these conditions? Do you think that there is any truth in the argument that you should fish dark flies at night so that fish can more easily see the profile of the fly?



Bob Creeden
03-30-2003, 09:27 PM

Tis not an argument, but a fact! The night sky isn't black and fish look up from the depths at the night sky or overcast sky and a black or dark object will provide a better contrast against the lighter sky.

I'm pushing the theory that Hudson River Stripers during the spawning run are moving up on to the flats at night to cruise for bait.

It is most unusual for any anglers to fish the Hudson River at night. It just isn't part of the collective history of the majority of Hudson River Fishermen. I caught my first striped bass near Crawbucky Beach in 1953, early morning on a nightcrawler. (What did I know?)

Anyhow, stripers are my passion and very few stripers fall to fly fishers during the spawning run. The action last weekend on both sides of Croton Point is the exception not the rule for us long rodders.

I would guess the fish being caught last week were holdover stripers who wintered in Haverstraw Bay and along the deeper channels.

The average spawning female is over 28 pounds and the average mature male is about 20 pounds. Females go up over 55 pounds and males can reach weights in the 35 pound range.

Stripers begin to get in the mood to spawn in the 58 degree range and go completely nuts at 62 degrees.

Stripers spawn on the southside of Croton Point because of the freshwater put into the river ther by the Croton River. The rest of the spawning activity is in mostly freshwater north of Cold Spring and all the way to the Federal Dam at Troy, NY. For the most part, stripers spawn in the main stem of the river.

I plan on drifting big blueback herring flys on a down turned tide starting two hours before first light and for about 3 hours past it as often as I can to test the big fly theory. I'm also going to fish big black flys and some poppers on the flats in the dark to see if there really are big fish cruising the flats at night.

I'll let you know how it turns out and I begin to connect with fish.

I'll be fishing north of Catskill and south of the I-90 bridge near Selkirk, NY

You might want to run over to Great Bay and try that piece of water near Portsmouth, NH at night.


03-31-2003, 06:21 AM
Thanks Bob.

The Hudson sounds like a great fishery and it sounds like you have it figured out to a very respectable degree. Good work!

In regards to the Portsmouth area: my company is trying to decide if it should build a new building in Concord, NH or Portsmouth, NH. Any guesses which choice I am voting for?

Thanks for the reply.


03-31-2003, 06:40 AM
Bob -

Great post! Welcome it's great to have you join in the community and I look forward to reading about your results.

Mike -

For night fishing I've done well with black as Bob points out whether fished against the night sky or against the sand as well particularly on moonlit nights. Deerhair is an important component of night flies because it pushes a lot of water and they respond to that even if they can't see it all that well. Certainly surface commotion is important and night fishing can be a blast when you can work a popper or gurgler or slider on a flat calm night where the only noises are bass swirling and popping around you.

The very biggest fish I've hooked at night have been on a large dark bigeye baitfish style fly with deerhair on top and bottom to hold the profile out and keep some 'push' in the fly. The take has typically been so close to shore that I have since stopped wading in unless I need to get past a weedline or something.

Another most effective fly is the black velvet eel. I tie mine with a flume of black marabou inside the velvet tube and tied tight, shorter velvet length and a loop of thick mono inside the tube to prevent fouling. I tie real eyes (weighted) to put the hook point up and work this across well lit flats at night.

There is a spot I took my son a lot when he was a kid where a restaurant lights up the water with halogen floods for their clientele. Fish like it because it provides an ambush point thru the night. The bigger fish sit on the fringes, not in the well lit area itself. The water dissapears into the night at the edges, yet anything that splashes shows like a fireworks display because of the lighting. You could do two things very effectively... put the black velvet eel on the edge of the lit flat and tease the fish onto the flat out of thte darkness to inhale it -or- cast a popper into the blackness and watch the white spray of the pop until KABLOOM!!!

Man I miss the smell of the briny surf and a hard pull on the line!

03-31-2003, 06:59 AM
I'll keep it simple.

Black Snake Fly

A slow, paused retrieve works well for me.

03-31-2003, 08:40 AM

I see you fish all the same areas as I do on the Hudson. But I have to disagree with your view on Hudson Fish on the Fly. I have been fishing the "Bays" and other area's with a fly for about 15 years now. They will hit anything that comes by them if they are hungry. The problem with the fly this time of year is the lack of vibration. I have noticed that a lure ( Rattle Traps, Storm Wildeye's and Rapala's) that emits a vibration is 90% more likely to get the fish's attention. Water in these places we fish are seldom clear. Mostly off color to a chocolate milk color if the wind is howling. So visibility of the offering is definately a factor.

I have fished mostly at night or early morning hours for more years than I care to remember. I have taken fish on the fly up to 25lbs at night and in the daylight on the fly. My theory is you can count the number of fly guys on the Hudson on one hand and most of the access points for shore waders are restricted. Perhaps its not the unwillingness of the fish to hit a fly but the unwillingness of the fisherman to go out and target them with the fly. I am just as guilty as anyone else. Why bust hump all day in a stiff wind to nab one or two fish on the fly when you can toss spin gear and put 50 fish in the boat in a matter of hours.

Bob Creeden
03-31-2003, 12:45 PM

No disagreement here. I agree, and feel that if we can educate more flyfishers to fish at night on the flats and back bays the more stripers will come to the fly.

I grew up in Ossining and know the Croton System well. Great description of pushing up the Croton river from the Railroad bridge. When I was 12, (1952) I kept a plank built wooden boat w/ a 5 hp motor on a dock just east of Route 9 in Crotonville. Absolutely like taking a time machine back into the past when you get back in there. I thought I was Huckleberry Finn and lived on the river for a whole summer.

We have some interesting flats up here past Catskill. As I connect in the back bays and on the flats, I'll let you know.

I might be older than you, but have only been flyfishing for stripers for about 6 years. Your guidance and advice will be greatly appreciated.

Especially on flys and when to use different types or styles.

Here are some local statistics on the activities of spawning striped bass since 1984.

They arrive at Catskill about April 17th. They start to feed agressively when the river reaches 45-degrees. They begin spawning activity at 58 degrees and are fully into it at 62 degrees.

In this area, based on daytime angling reports - The best time to catch striped bass is first light and the first 3 hours of daylight.

Spawned out females head south and to the sea very quickly. A small number of them stage in Catskill Creek fro a couple of week in June and then head south.

The best tide is the last three hours of a dropping tide.

When you bring a fish to the boat or to shore and see other striped bass following it closely, it is a sure sign that spawning has begun, or will start shortly.

I'll be fishing the wee hours in the morning on through daylight. Wading, yaking or tin boating depending on the location and tide.

The river is less than a quarter mile wide here in most places. The narrowness compresses the water during tide turns and tidal flow can get intense. Great rip fishing possibilities. Like Teller's Point along the brick line only swifter. The average tide rise and drop is 5.5 feet. Wind and run off will increase the flow and the height on occasion.

Stay in touch. We're not far away, so if your of a mind, come on up and be my guest. The first three weeks in May is prime!

See ya, :cool:

03-31-2003, 01:16 PM

I have a hunch that the run will be delayed this year due to the weather. Croton Bay on Sunday was 40 degrees in 5ft of water. Thats darn cold and its much colder up by you. Given the fact that not many fish over 10lbs have been taken all week I think the big males and cows are down river still. I hope its a late run honestly. Looking back at my records I have had my best fishing after an extremely cold winter and high water from the tribs. I also looked at the dates. Late April into late May and even into june. The cycle seems to be every 6-10 years. This would be the 8th year since we had a more severe winter. Croton River produces best when the Dog Wood trees are in bloom and the water is RAGING over the damn. I have to estimate that so far this year in the past two weeks I have put more than 200 fish in the boat. We average about 45-65 fish every trip. Most fish are taken on spin gear but I will say about 40 fell for the fly. I honestly have not targeted them solely with the fly but this Friday will be FLY only unless things get really bad.

Bob Creeden
03-31-2003, 04:38 PM

Water temperature was 40 degrees here two days ago. The snow and 25 degree weather over the weekend probably will push it back a bit. Last year my notes show cows, up to 40 inches, taking herring on April 5th at Croton Point. I spoke to a friend who nets bait near Peekskill and he just started picking up herring "scouts" last Friday. Once they are inthe river in force, can the big fish be far behind?

Dogwood and shadbush displays creep up the river just like our striped bass friends. Our air temps are on the average 7 to 10 degrees cooler and spring has to work its way north.

Everyday brings them closer. I also think different schools of bass enter the river at different times. It may be tied to the
length of daylight or the distance they have to travel up river to spawn. I do know they come up in spaced waves that you can see on fishfinders. Sufice it to say, I'm ready, willing and able to wait for them to show up on my door step. My brother lives in Peekskill, so you might see me knocking around Croton Bay in his creme and brown bow rider out of the Ossining Canoe and Boat Club April 11 thru 13. I'll be waving a flyrod and he willhave a spining stick. :cool:

03-31-2003, 07:21 PM
At Croton I ran into schools of some little fish that pecked hard on a fly but were too small to take it. Any ideas what they are? Perch?

Bob Creeden
04-01-2003, 08:02 AM

No clue! Call Pat or Richie Ferris at Croton Bait and
Tackle. They have a nephew who nets bait and are in tune to what is moving in the River. 914 - 271-3675.

It snowed here last night. Just a dusting! Air Temp here was below 30 degrees at 6 am.

04-01-2003, 08:32 AM
What is hitting is American or Gizzard Shad and the occasional Herring. I hooked a few Shad the other day and my uncle took a Herring ( fair hooked ) on a Rapala. Most likely you are getting the Shad to hit.

04-01-2003, 08:36 AM
This bow rider you are talking about. He is not keeping it in Croton this year is he???

I see a brown and cream boat all the time with split windsheild out there. This year I noticed its at the same Marina as me.

Bob Creeden
04-01-2003, 09:14 AM
Brother Richard is trailering it for the spring at least. He hauls it with a new red ford Ranger P/U. Usually puts it in at the Ossining Ramp. Sometimes the Peekskill ramp! He belongs to the Ossining C&B Club.:)

04-01-2003, 09:36 AM
Rough launching in Peekskill this time of year. No docks. I dont think Georges Island has them in yet either. Have to back it off the trailer. Pain in the butt when you have a glass boat vs the aluminum that you can beat on a bit