A friend once “punked” me by yanking on my fly line. It was a crisp February morning just before dawn, and we were tossing searching casts for striped bass on Georgia’s Lake Lanier. When my buddy grabbed my line, he meant to shock me into thinking I had a bite. But back then I’d never felt a mature striper hammering a fly, so I didn’t get the joke. I was used to trout and carp bites where you simply feel the line come tight. Now I know: Stripers are different; they hammer a fly.
If there were a hunting season for stripers, these fish would fall into the “big game” category. Once you experience combat with a full-grown striped bass—say, a 20-pounder—there’s no going back. You see this in new striper anglers’ faces, usually right after their first big fish breaks them off. The first thing they say is, “Again!”
Luckily striped bass are abundant, and the chance to catch one is never far away—especially in the South, which I call New Striper Nation. In fact, thanks to aggressive stocking efforts in the 1960s and ’70s, stripers—Atlantic and Gulf Coast natives—are now found in lakes throughout the country. In some of these lakes and impoundments stripers can be tough to find, but during summer inland stripers go semi-nomadic, chasing baitfish while seeking thermal refuge in the rivers above these deep impoundments. The Chattahoochee River system in Georgia, the Tallapoosa River in Alabama, the Cumberland River in Tennessee, even the massive Arkansas River system near Little Rock and in eastern Oklahoma—these waterways merely scratch the surface in terms of the widespread availability of striped bass.
Nice article Zach. My buddy has some ‘whipers’ in his small farm pond and when you are throwing a 5wt for the other species and hit one of the whipers, it’s hold on and hope the tippet holds. 25 inch are not uncommon in his 1/2 acre pond. They are a blast to fish for and everything you can handle.
If you ever get up this way between late May through early October (our striper hunting season) I would recommend Cape Cod on the Brewster flats or Barnsatble harbor area. you can chase stripers in knee deep water. The Cheeky Fly tournament is a blast in late May. This year was the biggest by far with about 130 2- person teams. I remember when it was 50 teams. We place 19th this year and the class of fish this year is small Buddy got the smallest striper at 8″ and won waders, boots and a slingpack from Simms !
If you like bonefishing this would be fun for you, nothing like seeing the take from a 24″+ fish 30’away