Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Last Friday I took the day off work and in between dropping off the children to school and then needing to be back to pick them both up that afternoon, I was able to jump in the raft with Guide Jake Howard of Saluda Valley Guides and Captain Paul Rose of Carolina Bonefishing for a short float on the Saluda River.  Water was being generated so Jake opted for us to concentrate on the stripers that have been just beginning to show up in the river.

The morning that was overcast and cool and we found a few stripers moving around the top water but they weren't interested in chasing a fly or searching jig until we neared the end of the float.  Things started to turn around as we were passing through some quick water we watched as a large striper beating up a large baitfish trying to get it down the gullet.  We had a few small stripers chase a fly out of this run and Jake knocked the skunk off the boat with a small schoolie munching on a large white/chartreuse Clouser Minnow.

We continued downstream and Jake anchored us on the edge of a slender braid of the river which he knew had the chance of holding a few striper.  I had spent the morning casting a couple different Articulated Hollow Flatwing flies that Michael Decoteau of Red Spot Fly had tied for me years ago to take on this fishery.  These flies look beautiful under the water with a tremendous amount of motion and a great profile.  I started with one in white, blue, and pink but later in the morning opted for another one in chartreuse, a touch of red, and flash.

On one of the first casts I made across this deep green pool, I was watching the fly swim through the current, pulsing with each strip when a large striper came out of nowhere and took a swipe at it.  He missed but came back for another take but missed again.  I continued to make a slow retrieve and finally on the third swipe the hook took hold.

The striper took off in the heavy current, fly line led to backing leaving the reel, and the Bandit fly rod was bent over double on this heavy fish.  Minutes later Jake was able to net this striper which weighed in at thirteen pounds, a few photos were taken, and back in the river it went.  I was left shaking after the experience and excitement. 

There is just something different about how a big fish eats.  Maybe it's like the moment before a traffic collision where everything slows down and you see it coming frame by frame in your brain but that striper on the first pass moved left to right in the most deliberate and purposeful glide with dorsal fin flared and mouth wide open.  Watching this eat, eat, and finally EAT will forever be burnt into my brain.  What a way to end a half day float on the Saluda River.

Want to find a few striper, smallmouth, or trout?  Plan a float with Jake Howard of Saluda Valley Guides.  He's still got a few prime striper days open.  Consider following along on Facebook too.

P.S.  Thanks Jake and Paul for the fish photos.  I had my hands full with this striper.


David Knapp said...

Nice striper. Those are some of the most fun on a fly rod if you ask me. Great work!

Zeddediah said...

Nice! Nothing like a striper to be persistent their voracious appetite!

Unknown said...

What a great Striper on the Fly story! Reminds me of an epic day in MA; no that many years ago. I'm looking forward to incorporating some of these ideas into my Flatwings. There's already a few inspirations for a squid fly! Thanks.

Tom said...

Well told, very descriptive. Thanks

Tom said...

Well told, very descriptive. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Hell. Yes. Great post. Beautiful fly too. I would've eaten it.

RalphsFlyBox said...

Stripers on a fly...never a dull situation. Great fish!


sooooooooo coooooool!!