Well the dust has settled now on the recent trip by some BASS members to the USA to target Striped Bass (Stripers). There were around 3 separate UK groups from BASS that made the trip, all with a slightly different emphasis, be it large plugs for big cows, fly-fishing on flats, or sight-casting from beaches. All of the UK groups got into the bass & the vicious Bluefish. By comparing notes with our various American contacts it seems that we certainly held our own, with decent numbers & a decent stamp of bass landed.
That’s not the full story though, as we certainly worked our socks off to put ourselves in amongst the action. The bitterly cold winter experienced on the East Coast of the USA had delayed the migration, & therefore the fishing certainly was not easy. Tactics were tailored to cope with this though, & the ‘lure’ group went mostly nocturnal. Whilst bass can be successfully targeted during the day, the nighttime often gives the better opportunity to make contact with the real big ‘draggers’ (the name we give to the big girls that rip line off even the tightest drag).
The feeling of casting a big plug into a ripping tide in the dark, then having to hold on to the rod tightly with two hands as the rod buckles & the drag sings is a seriously addictive experience !
We threw the lures preferred by the locals, & we took a few European specials with us also. In general we were throwing big stickbaits in darkness, and big poppers at dawn & dusk. Soft plastics can be very effective, but if the Bluefish are on the feed, soft plastics don’t last long against their sharp teeth. By UK bass standards our gear is heavy, but with a realistic chance of hooking something in the ‘high-teens’ and an outside chance of hooking something north of 20lbs, fishing too light will end in tears, or in a prolonged fight.
The post-trip blues can be hard, & this Blogger is just about emerging from the darkness now. Seeing the standard of the fishery over there, & knowing how good the European fishery could be if the right management measures were taken can be soul-destroying. Still the Americans feel the fishery there could be better, and are constantly wary of the mistakes they have made in the past. BASS will keep campaigning for our bass, & to try & achieve a sustainable healthy fishery … not easy, but we know how good it could be !!