Night time strategies (big stuff) - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 07-08-2009, 08:23 AM
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Night time strategies (big stuff)

After recently seeing a four-foot long cow almost hit my legs in near-darkness at a spot where there are NEVER fish during daylight hours my interest in night fishing has been re-awakened. There were bunker in the area and I doubt this thing was looking for shrimp.

I am curious what the collective psyche has to offer for methods (not spots) to target monsters after dark. I don't mean flatwings and clousers for schoolies, I mean mega tactics for mega stripers if anyone's doing it.

I'm going to put some after-work study hours into it this season and would love ideas. I've had success with large bunker flies in fall, use of wire necessary as some of the bull blues chasing the bunker are massive as well and those foot long flies are time consuming and expensive. 550 grain heads / Atlantis really helped launching those chickens into the night.

I'd like to try some marlin-sized poppers and black-eel sized stuff - anyone done it?

thnx
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  #2  
Old 07-08-2009, 10:26 AM
PEC54 PEC54 is offline
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Talking Now you've got my attention!!!!!!

I love fishing the dark for stripers,The odds of latching on to something large increase in your favor 10 fold, the fish are in closer and as Juro pointed out sometimes right at your feet. Your pretty much for the most part guaranteed to have the locations to yourself, most people don't like fishing in the dark; it can get kinda spooky .Fishing at night requires you to slow down and really work your fly, I don't believe a feeding striper in the dark is going to chase its quarry, she depends on sound and smell, this is when the lateral line comes into play,she must have time to lock on your fly. One advantage of night time fishing is a stripers sight is also limited, she won't have time to visually inspect your fly for true realism, a fly that "pushes water" or makes noise such as those tied with rattles will give her something to lock on to. A fish doesn't have hands to hold and inspect something, it's all done with there mouth, if they take something that's not food or doesn't taste right they quickly spit it out, if it happens to have a hook in it well hopefully if we play it correctly we win and they lose Juro you mention flatwings ,well I'm here to tell ya flatwing type deceivers have been responsible for a majority of all large that I have taken at night, the other flies have been some type of flatwing eel, yak hair eel or magnum rabbit strip eel, I have also had success with long bullet head sliders fished slow in current flows similar to long sandeels or needle fish . The flatwing type flies I tie are a cross between Ken Abrames style mixed with Leftys deceiver style mixed with Boppops hollow flies. Ken Abrames long flowing flat tail gives it the serpented side to side undulation, I will tie in some shorter hackle in the praying hands or tented method like the original leftys deceiver,this is all finished of with bucktail hollow or reversed tied to create a head that is fairly blunt .If I decide to add rattles I'll tie them on the hook shank in front of the flatwing hackle towards the hook eye. The fish that came close to wacking you in an area where you are not used to seeing big fish is not an abnormally, I have experienced it many times, under the cover of darkness or limited light these fish get ballsy ,they loose all fear of the shallows. Anytime you hear of bait in an area ,return there at night ,it will happen. .Juro I think it maybe time for us to hook up.
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Old 07-08-2009, 12:47 PM
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Sounds good - PM me with optimal tides and I will drive over thanks
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Old 07-08-2009, 02:38 PM
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If I'm trophy hunting after dark, I leave the small and even medium sized flies at home. I fish nothing under 8" long, and even then that might be a bit short....most of the time my flies are 12-14" long, and I tie them on 6/0 to 8/0 Gamakatsu bluewater billfish hooks. I'm not messing around with hooks that might cost me a trophy.

I fish edges (structure, current, or both), and as Paul eluded to, a slow (or no) cadence seems to be right for the retrieve. Most of my large flies imitate hickory shad or adult bunker, but sometimes in the right current I will also use large squid flies.

You don't catch the usual numbers of fish doing this, but what you lack in quantity you will more than make up for in quality.
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Old 07-08-2009, 05:36 PM
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My 'real' cow 42" bass the other night seemed to think a flat wing was just fine. Not a mega fish but pretty good for the fly rod. Fly was only about 6-7 inches long. You will have to get over your flat wing adversion. For castability at size they cannot be beat. And if you get into night fishing you will realize fishing monomoy in the day, while scenic, is schoolie fishing anyway. It does not matter what fly you are using

Big bass will eat a variety of things. Big flies are not always the answer and never have been. Full chicken flies really do not work that well no matter what the fly tying gods may tell you. Fishing your deep eel well and in the right spot at night will give you just as good a shot as one of those lifeless grocery flies. A fish I kept this year at 36" was full of lady crabs even though herring and bunker were all around. They are not always eating large. If you are fishing a 14" bunker fly and they are eating 7" sandeels you are out of luck.

It is more about knowing the patterns and where/when the fish feed thus enabling you to be in the right place at the right time. That takes research and getting to know an area well, or fishing with Paul.

Like Paul I use the current and rarely actively retrieve my fly except at the end of a drift. It is about keeping it in the feeding zone as long as possible. Pretty much a greased line presentation. Big fish are not going to chase down your fly. They are too smart and lazy for that and are in a feeding station waiting for the food to come to them.

Oh and leave the 17lb fluoro at home. You can safely fish 25-30lb mono no problem.

-sean
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Old 07-08-2009, 05:57 PM
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Inconceivable...

Fishing at night?
You might as well be fishing in the dark?!
Nothing good ever happens after midnight!
Unless you want to catch BIG fish!
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Old 07-08-2009, 08:39 PM
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Pete. That Black Beauty should be fished by everyone who plies the water after the sun sets. Gotta love those flatwings! Thanks again for sharing it with us last year. Perhaps you could post the pattern again? Juro. Better tie up several of these. They even work well without the JC eyes.

Phil
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Old 07-08-2009, 10:25 PM
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I sense a little flatwing defensiveness here - anyone going to step up for the lowly clouser? They were mentioned in the same breath. My reference was a generalization of smaller flies. I could say "you need to get over the flatwing obsession" but I know you're just being ornery, so I won't

Anyway, I've caught many a big bass on 6 inch sand eels daytime, sight fishing which is the ultimate test of skill, and the reason I don't fish nights very often - but I am curious and revisiting since it gives me hours even on long work days.


night-caught stripah

So far I've had the best luck on monster bass by fishing huge bunker patterns alongside the swimmer spin guys on fall nights when the biggest bass of the year are eating 14" bunker at night. At those times I've fished all manner of fly and found success only by presenting a bunker like pattern when the tide current animates it. The spin guys use only large swimmers fished a certain way then.

I suspect summertime night fishing is a lot like summertime day fishing - quite possible to catch big fish using small flies. But I have to think that in the darkness, something more visible and with a larger presence is going to be seen by more fish than something small and subtle. Just common sense.
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Old 07-08-2009, 11:31 PM
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Well I think part of the problem is the definition of monster bass. Anything under 40" is still a school bass. Hell a 36 inch bass could still easily be a male and not a cow. They do not get to be called monsters at least around these parts until they get over 35 pounds and I have not broken that yet on a fly rod and only know a few people that ever have. Sorry but a 36 inch fish just aint that impressive. Nice fish but not that big. Maybe big for the flats I guess.

If night fishing is so easy you would see more fly guys posting big fish at night but that is not the case. If anything night fishing is much more technical but that is an argument for another thread. Big fish just are not out in the daytime feeding in close very often and definitely not on the flats. Just not in a big bass nature to be that exposed except rare times like what happened up the elbow the past couple weeks with the sandeels or times in the fall.

I did not say anything about clousers cause if I wanted to fish jigs I will grab my spin rod and fish a bucktail. Works better

Flatwings for the most part are larger flies so not seeing the clouser comparison. That is what they were designed for, large patterns that are easy to cast. Almost all big fish at night from shore come on flatwings or a variation thereof. Just reference Paul. He is one of 2 guys I know personally to go over 40 pounds on the fly and he has a lot of flatwing in his flies. They just work if you learn to fish them, which from your steelhead background you have the skills to do. I like using things that work.

The plugs that catch large fish also are not all that big. Most all of them are under 9 inches in length. It all comes down to presentation at night whether you are fishing a plug or fly. A plug I have caught many fish over 20 pounds all season long is the mag minnow or its brother the mag darter. They are only 5 1/4 inches long. Fish have more than just their eyes to find food at night.

All I am saying is forget about flies and really focus on where/when/how. That is what is important when fishing at night. Flies are secondary. Putting your focus on the flies first is not the way to go about it.

But what do I know...I only fish at night and put in 4 nights a week. Night is the best chance fly guys (gear guys as well) have for big bass, you guys can have the daylight.

-sean
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Old 07-09-2009, 12:22 AM
PEC54 PEC54 is offline
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Sparsely tied flatwings or any pattern-

tied to show the hint of a profile, and provide the appearance of life is the key to fly fishing in the dark, fished slowly or allowed to just drift within the tidal flows and current seams is the ticket to success .Sometimes drifting a presentation after a cast and working the fly adding and retrieving line can take upwards of 15 minutes or more. I think the biggest key is to fish where big fish are going to be found,there must be sizable structure to attract large fish,rock piles,sandbars,under bridges, a hump covered with eel grass. Large quantities of bait , it doesn't have to be physically large bait ,only there in large quantities to satisfy larger fish, I've taken some mid 40" stripers that were gorging themselves on 4" silversides, at times they would target one lonely silverside , other times they would crash through the bait taking mouth fulls at a time, spawning silversides only have one thing on their minds and they make easy targets.I suggest slow down,make your fly act like a fish just drifting in the currents,make very slow retrieves, keep the fly in the water. Also and this maybe one of the most important things I can offer:keep your hooks sticky sticky sharp, and set the hook on any feeling of hesitation or anything that feels different to the fly,at night big fish don't always crush the fly,sometimes they suck it in and before you know what happened they will have spit it out. It's almost 1:30 am and I'm on my way out to find something large- night time rules.
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Old 07-09-2009, 01:05 AM
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I have to say I am very impressed by this discussion of the technical aspects and the opportunities of night fishing which I have limited experience compared to some. Besides I won't need no stinking sunblock!

OK I'm sold. Big flatwings and night sorties are in the plan for 2009. My habit of hitting live music venues which usually goes 10p-2a takes it's portion of nights, plus my love of sight fishing won't fade any time soon, but listening to you guys I feel like I am missing half the fun and vow to explore this.

BTW that fish that came to my legs the other night was easily four feet long. I could have jumped on it's back.
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Old 07-09-2009, 05:34 AM
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Go get um' Juro! You are one step ahead of most in that you have a sense of where the bigger fish will be waiting for your fly regardless of pattern size or choice. On the right night with stars overhead you will find a different kind of sight fishing that awakens the senses of feel and sound. It's very exciting under the right conditions. It's very quiet and usually ice pond calm. I agree with many that the pattern choice that is easier to cast and drift in a life like manner will have you catching bass the way you fish for steel but with a much heavier leader and a floating, mendable line. When I was working the day time shift, I spent a lot more time fishing at night and miss it in the worst way. The family went to bed and I headed out the door.

Phil
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Old 07-09-2009, 05:49 AM
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Here's an example of the kind of unconventional technique I used in the past for night success with some great results -

Using a very large homemade popper (the biggest closed cell foam diameter at Hunter's at the time) I used the airflo beach SINKING line and a stout short leader. The action was the reverse - when I retrieved the popper would dive / when I stopped it would rise. I would lay the 550 grain tungsten belly on the snagless Cape Cod sand and dive/rise/dive/rise to solicit some crazy big bass (for the fly) that would create massive sink holes in the surface on the fly often as it sat after it rose. And this was with the Atlantis so not all that long ago maybe 2-3 yrs.

One huge difference between where I fish and Rhody is sand vs. rocks. I can take advantage of using the bottom, where you really can't most places along the Boston Harbor, North Shore, Napatree, etc.
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Old 07-09-2009, 07:57 AM
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The Dark Side...

Definitely stay away from BLACK...
They'll never see it in the dark (especially after they swallow it)...
Let the muggings begin...



Like I said before...NOTHING good ever happens after midnight...
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Old 07-09-2009, 08:04 AM
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Pete!

Those look amazing... are those hybrids between Bob Pop's hollow fly and a flatwing? They don't look like any flatwing I've ever seen, huge profile and very opaque too.
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