Fighting & Landing Stripers [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Fighting & Landing Stripers

05-13-2002, 07:38 AM
Food for thought...

Saw one fly fisherman greatly overplay a fish this weekend and then drag him up onto the sand made me think about some things I've learned from guys like Juro, Bigcat, Striblue & the Penguin.

1. If you hook up, get down & dirty, don't be afraid to put a bend in that rod, that's what all those fancy materials are for. I've found that getting my rod horizontal to the water stops & turns better than vertical. I've seen Juro turn his rod into an inverted U with a big fish on.

2. If you can strip the fish in, strip the fish in.

3. When landing a striper you don't need to drag it up onto the sand. I grab the leader, slide my hand down & grab the fly, stick my rod in my armpit & lip the fish with my other hand. You'll get your fingers pierced a few times but big deal - you don't have to leave a productive spot & you land & release the fish faster.

4. USe the right rod. I hooked into a sub 30" schoolie on the outside who was almost too much for my #8 Diamondback in the surf. If I hooked that 4 footer - it would have been a hell of a fight!. A few weeks ago I hooked a 24" schoolie with a #6 trout rod and realized I do not have to abilities to land a fish with that rod. He spit the hook but if I had him well hooked, my rod would have broken or I would have been spooled.

Just my $.02.


05-13-2002, 09:08 AM
Good points Roop

Just to be clear on that "steelheader's greaseline" technique, it's used when the fish has gone into the backing and there is a lot of cushion in the amount of line in the water (too much in fact). Since I fish 100% barbless the more distance the fish gets, especially with a cross-current, the easier it gets for it to spit the hook if you are pointing the rod toward the fish. I found that under those conditions, if you put a full bend into the rod (a wide "u-ey") to keep maximum bungee-ness and reel up whatever you can constantly you can work the fish in close enough to get the fly line back and fight it in a normal fashion. This is because when a fast blank is pointing at a distant fish and it starts head shaking and jolting there are radical changes in tension (too much to too little) and big fish shake off a lot, in my experiences anyway. Keep the rod on the side of the current that will keep a bow in the line toward the tail of the fish. This helps keep the hook planted.

Don't know the scientific explanation but I seldom lose big fish that have run way into the backing using this technique, where I used to lose most of them while they were way out there near Portugal.

05-13-2002, 10:13 AM
I may be doing things wrong here so corrections are welcomed. Iíve got the short fight thing down pretty well but landing is another issue. When I get a fish say 28Ē and up in largish surf I find the only way I can land and release efficiently is to keep a long line on the fish for the landing by backing up the beach. This means that I bring the fish into the zone where the water is a couple inches deep and then momentarily the fish is ďhigh and dryĒ when the wave recedes. At that moment I run up, lip the fish and can usually release with the next wave. This solves two problems for me. 1. I find it very difficult to lip a larger fish in the ďheartĒ of the surf zone and it consequently takes much longer to get the whole process complete unless Iím lucky enough to have the barbless hook slip out on itís own. 2. The long line landing lets me effectively manage the radically changing forces in the surf zone.

So my question is is it an acceptable trade off to have the fish on wet sand for a few seconds to achieve a quicker release? Iíve seen stripers rubbing themselves in the sand on the flats and given that they spend so much time in the surf zone I canít imagine that they are not regularly bumping bottom so is my few seconds on wet sand all that different or harmful? Iíve even heard of stripers putting themselves in the position I put them in when they are chasing bait.


Worried I may be hurting the fish.

05-13-2002, 11:23 AM
HA! The King of Tunoids wondering if he knows how to land fish!

Good point though Greg, my thoughts/ opinions were aimed towards anything but agressive surf.

Looking forward to my "hot to catch a tunoid" lessons.


05-13-2002, 11:28 AM
More and more, I have come to the conclusion that I would rather lose a fish because I was putting too much pressure than have a long drawn out fight, or worse, a long drawn out fight and then a dropped fish.
Amaze you friends. Show that fish who's boss. Get back in the game ASAP. Rack up those Man Points! Oh, and check your knots.

05-13-2002, 11:47 AM
Here's how I do it.

1. Whip the fish out so that it's sideways, then, while you're trying to get control of it, let it wash up in a wave and bunt you in the nardles.

2. Try to lip him when he's too green. After five or six grabs give up and go to option 1.

3. While maintaining tension enough to bend your rod down, make a hopeless grab toward the lip of the fish just as you perceive that the hook is only engaged in a tiny sliver of flesh. Allow your eyes to widen in dismay as you see the hook tear free. Reflect on the wide availability of braille devices.

4. Prop your rod across the back of your neck to tension the line enough to give you a reach toward the fish while cursing the impulse that led you to fish such a long or light leader. As the fish thrashes, spin around to keep the rod bent, the tension tight, and the fish close. Fail to lip the fish, then notice the cameraman from WCCT channel 7 on the beach, laughing but not laughing so hard that he misses the shot of you executing option 1.

5. Develop the bright idea of trying to corral a twinkie or a trout or flounder or blue you've just stripped in in your stripping basket. Spend next 45 minutes untangling slimy snarled running line.

6. Back your fish up on the beach, neglecting to notice the 18" tide berm that formed since you've been facing Ireland. Sit down suddenly just as a wave washes your fish toward you. Step 1.

7. Catch nothing, thus avoiding step 1.


05-13-2002, 12:13 PM
Good thread. I'm still learning and getting calibrated to my tackle, but my mindset is to fight the fish as fast and hard as possible and release quickly. I'm still awkward at handling the fish when wading (snapped the end of my rod last wear doing it) and if on shore will try to gently beach the fish. Seems that's the only way to do it in the surf.

I've gone back and forth on the hand lining issue as I learn. When I was first clueless I thougt it was more efficient to get the fish on the reel. While still clueless I'm thinking I should handline smaller fish. Of course, I think I saw the right answer to this recently (I think it was Tony S in a thread in FFSW), in essence "Let the fish decide".

With the (very) few nice fish I've caught I've enjoyed the rapping of my knuckles with the reel handle and the resulting stream of expletive deletives. Rough and nasty followed by a gentle cuddle and release.

05-13-2002, 12:55 PM
This is a good topic and I agree that you you should always try to lip grab a fish that can be, except for the big ones where you need to grab under the gill...but be carefull, you need to do the gill grab at the botton of gill.. The top can be too sharp.. I agree with Hawkeye on the big surf... You sometimes need to play the surf like the fish... obviously trying to pull a fish in a back flow puts too much stress on the tippet.. you wil break off... so you need to pull it gently by reeling as the surf wave comes in... Then stop, move forward with the out flow and wait for the next wave. Trying to walk into a big surf to hand grab it can be vertually impossible unless you dive on it:tsk_tsk: So sometimes the quick release is bringing it up the sand a short way , not so far as to be high and dry. Also, when releasing the fish have it by the tail.. Trying to revive a fish by moving it backand forth while you have your thumb in it's mouth does nothing... As you all know probably, holding it by the lip immobilizes it.. you can see this by how fast it revives when holding the tail... You can move it back and forth forever and wonder why it is not breaking away by holding it by the mouth. One point on playing and landing... that's by far alot of fun... But there is nothing for me like that first mico, mico second of the first tug.. that moves my senses more than playing the fish. (Although it's the complete experience to hook, play, land and release) HPLR

05-13-2002, 01:23 PM
Out on the outer beach surf, I land fish using the same method you mentioned and feel it's no harm to fish... in my own words I let the fish come up with a wave and hold it back as the wave recedes so that it is in the wet sand left by one wave, and hurry to get to the fish before the next wave comes in.

I don't back up at all, I hold my position because I like to be as close to the fish as possible when the wave recedes. A perfect execution of this IMHO is that the barbless hook is lifted before the next wave comes up, and the fish is lifted back into the sea naturally by the wave without my assistance. I like to do it without touching them if possible, but sometimes guide the fish during the upswell of the next wave with hands or my soft neoprene surf boots (so they don't scurry up the beach by accident).

I think most of the 'abuse' occurs when people go fishing wearing clothes and shoes that don't allow them to get in the wash and treat the fish with care. There are guys who drag the fish up onto the DRY sand above the berm and wrestle to get those big barbed hooks out of the fish's mouth. There is an ol' timer on the North shore who drags every fish up onto dry sand, uses a beach towel to hold the fish still while he digs the barbed bait (clams) hook out of the stripers' gullet. I have never seen him catch a keeper, I wish he would so the carnage would stop.

If no sand is sticking to the fish, and if the next wave sends the fish rocketing for deep water on it's own accord, it was done right. To use the wet sand well below the waves' upper reach on a beach to land a fish between waves is a good method IMHO for the backside. That being said using any sand above the reach of the waves or any need to dig out hooks is poor handling.


BTW - IMHO I never grab the gills for striper unless the fish is coming home.

05-13-2002, 03:56 PM
You gotta lip the big ones!!

I had two different fish almost pull me in last year - mucho fun!

It's pretty humbling when the fish pushes you around ...


05-14-2002, 05:12 AM
Wonder if this would work. After lipping the fish turn him upside down, which quiets them down ,remove the hook turn them right side up an release them. All while the fish is in*the water. Probably would work on smaller fish but a large cow would be difficult to control. FishHawk

05-14-2002, 07:45 AM
Great topic.:smokin: Roop is 100% correct. Use the right rod for the given situation. Gone are the days of playing big fish on lite rods. :tsk_tsk: Maybe it's fun for you, but bad for the fish.
I like to turn the rod horizontal when I get a big fish. It helps me "turn" the fish and keep good presure on him. (I go barbless too). I like to keep the fish in the water as much as possible. I slide my hand down the leader and lip the fish. If the fish gets a little disagreeable and I have to let go he's still in the water. I'll let him do his thing until he becomes more reasonable. Face it. If someone grabbed you by the bottom lip, how happy would be?:chuckle:
If I'm in the surf, I let the surf help me land the fish. I think it's safer for the angler. Who wants to get water logged? I stay as close to the fish as possible, unhook him quick and get him back ASAP. I try to time the waves.
When I first started flyfishing, I was so consumed by "the catch", I completely forgot about the release. Not everything will go as you would like. The fish has something to say about it. But I try to be as kind to him as I can. After all, he was kind to me. ;)

05-14-2002, 07:40 PM
Excellent thread..
A few Q's for the "uniformed and yet to be educated"...
What are tide berms?
If the shore line is very steep behind you, like at low tide on South Beach, would you do anything different?
If you are fishing the flats, would you do anything different?
If you are fishing at Chatham Light (where we fished last year with John et al on the outgoing tide that formed a channel/river liek water) or similar laocation/water dynamics,while wading up to your navel and with no beach per se, would you do anything different?
If you are fishing of a jetty at low tide, when the height from you to the water is 10 Ft+, and all that greasy stuff is on the rocks below you, would you do anything different?
I have been re-reading Tabory's books and it seems to me that maybe different techniques would apply?

05-14-2002, 08:11 PM
Pete... a Berm is simply a lip or "wall" anywhere from a few inches to 5 feet and more that you would see at low tide.. It is where the high tide waves would be breaking and creating a a ridge which is a good holding area for fish at high...It does not always occur and depends on a number of factors, one of which can be the steep angle of the upper beach... you will find big ones after storms.

05-14-2002, 09:34 PM
Cool topic. Tips given me by Grant Hartman at Baja Anglers:

Playing big (or any) fish in the shortest time means getting max. sustained pressure on the tippet and keeping the fish off balance. High / extremely bent rods put very little pressure on the tippet but huge amounts of pressure on the rod blank. Starting from a straight horizontal pull up through 90 degrees, the net pressure on the tippet is actually reduced. You can demonstrate this with a spring balance or boga grip and a friend to call out the readings as you play around. Start with say a 3lb horizontal pull and then try to get the same reading with the rod at 90 degrees. Its a good idea to know what 10lb on a 12lb tippet or 18lb on a 20lb tippet feels like - its a lot!!!

My pal lost his 80lb (est) Tarpon through a frayed out shock tippet as the guide grabbed the leader. It took him a good fifteen minutes before he got the idea of leaning back from horizontal and lifting to 45 degrees then wind back down to horizontal and repeat. That fifteen minutes would have put his trophy in the boat. At 90 degrees and beyond the fish couldnt have cared less - although I did since he was using my rod!

Totally agree on the "in the water" release technique where conditions permit.