Southern Striper Tour

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    T. WilesT. Wiles

    Southern Striper Tour

    Well, with summer in full season, Crystal and Breelyn have been hopping from Arkansas family reunion, to Carolina family/kid beach trip with friends of ours, etc.—leaving me in a couple weeks of temporary bachelor living. I sure miss my girls, but I have managed to take full advantage of the mid summer fishing opportunities. Fishing with my brother Jay, and my buddies Looper and Knox , I’ve shared the water with good company. After a scarce prior year, I’ve been Jonesin’ for stripers, so I made it a point to test my boundaries and attempt excursions on all the striper waters I’ve been wanting to visit for quite a while.
    So far, the discoveries have been great. Chasing these ever-migrating fish and trying to time water conditions for those rare feeding blitzes has tested my comfort zones of spooky night water and sleep deprivation. There’s just something about hearing those brutes pop the surface after dark—sounds like you slapped a canoe paddle to the water as hard as you could slam it. I’ve burned plenty of gas in the truck and skiff, hunting these guys down, but the chase has been well worth it.

    Disclaimer: Not every fish came on a fly…but those that didn’t left a gaping hole in the water’s surface where a plug used to exist.

    Some bonus catches from a couple different spots: These browns have the same idea as the stripers….chasing the same bait.
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    I caught this big dude fishing solo in the dark on high water…he was all I could handle. He hit right after I had a bigger fish fight me into a tree, where I tried to dig him out for about 10 minutes…still peeling drag in the sticks.. until I had to break him off. I’m quite sure that first would have been my largest striper had I landed him.

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    Since the bite was on, I invited Jay to join me the next night. We were greeted by fog and more uncomfortably high water, so we let it fall out for a couple hours. As the water ebbed past midnight. Jay landed his personal best fish..over 30lbs. He then landed 2 others that looked just like this one:

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    I also managed to land a healthy fish that night:

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    Striper fuel..these bars are quite good:

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    Couple more from other nights:

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    Jazzi dodging the rain…it sure turned on a mid day bite.

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    Battle scars:
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    Nice and dry back in the truck:

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    One last river to try before the ladies get home…

    T. WilesT. Wiles

    The Grand Finale:
    I was able to finish this June/July fishing binge off with a call to Dave (Gaspergou). He was able to meet me to search some water I’ve been wanting to explore for over 10 years. We loaded the Hog, and set off without any major expectations due to the high sun/high pressure cloudless day—it sure was gorgeous weather though.

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    About 40 minutes into the trip, drifting beside a narrow island channel, I clearly saw a big striper open its big white jaws and inhale my fly, spitting it out after a couple headshakes. “Striper!” I yelled, disgusted that I missed such a monster grab. We drifted down about 15 yards in the swift current, and I launched the fly back up to the same spot. Here he comes again…chasing, chasing….closer and closer until he’s 2 ft boatside. I pause the fly, and GULP! He sucks the fly down and I’ve got this beast headshaking like a musky with my leader stripped to the guides. Freaking Incredibe Eat!!!
    Chaos sets in as he races downstream…Dave hops to the bow, and we chase down the fish with the trolling motor, dodging logs, then finally anchoring in a slack eddy to net him.
    I estimate he was about 18 lbs.

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    Now with the confidence of knowing these fish were present, we now got the boost of confidence to keep fishing hard the rest of the afternoon/evening. We wound up catching a few aggressive bonus bass that chased down the larger flies. Dave’s gorgeous spotted bass had a wolf pack of several other spots follow him in..I hooked in to one of it’s buddies, but it came unbuttoned.

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    We fished into dusk, without much more luck…but we found some great boulder-filled holes that looked promising. Many of these runs tested the Hog…I was sure glad to have the oars—they surely rescued us getting back down a rocky chute–when the trolling motor got overpowered by the current.
    One spot in particular caught my eye on the boatride up, so after we drifted over it , we motored back upstream for a couple more casts in a large back current eddy.

    My line got tight in the slack water beside the rushing current…I thought I was hung up, until the bottom started to move. When I saw this beast break the surface and start thrashing and headshaking in the clear water rapid, I couldn’t believe it, “Good God! Look at this fish!” I kept repeating. If he would have broken off, I would have sworn he was well over 40 lbs. He would dig deep, then surface to give some massive head shakes , then disappear to the bottom again…just amazing to watch.

    As I looked at the sweeping rocks and the strainer logs downstream, I didn’t believe that we could land him. One downstream run, and we’d be chasing him into some water where I wouldn’t want to test our safety. Luckily, he held in place in our current break charging back and forth, but never driving us back too far. Dave handled the boat like a champ circling us back around, so we could angle the fish downstream toward the boat but never moving us too far from the slack water.

    The entire fight, I could feel the 25 lb fluoro maxed out on pull, and the fly line was vibrating in the moving water like a guitar string. The fish finally circled towards the boat, and after one close call with the anchor line, he surfaced, and Dave scooped him up in the musky net. Praise God. I felt so blessed to experience a moment like this.

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    We estimated him at about 30 lbs, matching my personal best on a fly. He revived quickly in the cold water, and gave me a nice splash with a swift tail-kick. After the nerves settled down a bit, it was time for a victory beer that Dave brought for the trip. Mighty fine IPA:

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    We fished well past dark, digging flies out of logjams, dodging a random Dobson Fly, and watching fireworks from the locals camping near the water. Dave moved a fish boatside at dusk, but unfortunately, no other fish were landed. We only encountered two striper bites that day, and those were our two fish landed.

    We loaded up and I drove home late that night, perfectly content that my striper craving had been thoroughly quenched. Now, my ladies returned safe, and it feels great to have my family back home again. Once life gets settled again, I’ll find my way back out to the rivers. I’ll have to get my fly boxes in order to chase some smallmouth and trout as the dog days of summer settle in.

    Have a great summer everyone,


    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    Travis you are a disgustingly fishy dude. Great report.



    do you drill on teeth by appointment or walk in only 🙂

    Tim AngeliTim Angeli

    Looks like you’re having a hell of a summer Travis. Great stuff!

    Mike TolbertMike Tolbert

    Nice post Travis! May I ask what size rod you used to reel in that beast?



    You seem to almost always be getting it done. Great post.

    T. WilesT. Wiles

    Thanks guys, I’m truly blessed to be where I live…I think there are atleast 10 tailwaters within a four hour drive from my doorstep that have these stripers( I covered most of them on these weekends). Timing them right has been a challenge…but I had ample opportunity to FINALLY dial them in on my nearly 5 weekend pursuit.


    do you drill on teeth by appointment or walk in only :)

    It’s always a struggle to manage a practice, and balance a fishing obsession, but when the opportunities come available…I don’t hesitate to travel and fish when I can. Work hard, and play hard…and put family first.
    If I’m not booked for surgical extractions or working on a challenging esthetic case, I am blessed to have an occaisional Friday off. I actually just finished one of my most rewarding dental cases just as the fishing/family travel time approached. I was truly blessed with the privilege of treating this young lady, and after a lot of preparation and help from a great lab, I was able to complete some of my best work. It was a sigh of relief to have this completed, and allow me to set off fishing with a clear mind.
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    Nice post Travis! May I ask what size rod you used to reel in that beast?


    Hey Mike, I’m fishing a 10 wt Redington Link paired with an older Hard Alox Lamson Velocity V4 with plenty of 60 lb backing.
    The Redington CPX is an amazing rod..I can’t believe they discontinued it. The Link is quite nice, but it was only made for a short time. I believe the new Vapen series rods should be outstanding as well.
    The lines I use are a 10 wt SA Tarpon intermediate when the fish are pushed into shallow water (due to its stronger core), and a 350 grain SA Textured Tungten SinkTip on the heavier generation (3500CFS to 12K CFS). My leaders are 40 lb fluro linked with a blood knot to Seaguar 25lb fluoro–and this line gets tested to the max. I can’t stress enough the hooks–a 4/0 600SP hook gets buried in their corner jaw, and seldom comes unhooked during the fight. I rarely ever deep hook these fish, which is a problem with J hooks.

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    This bite should last through September, I may get a few more chances.

    Zach Matthews
    The Itinerant Angler

    That’s amazing work Travis. Were those veneers?

    T. WilesT. Wiles

    Thanks Zach…Yeah those were Ceramic Veneers made from a stronger glass called “EMax.”
    Recently, a lab technician and his wife moved to our area, and this guy is a true artist. His accuracy and quality has helped me take my work to the next level. It’s truly a team effort for a case to go flawlessly like this one.
    Got another one to start this upcoming Friday…4 hour straight appointment.

    Mike TolbertMike Tolbert


    Thanks for following up. I just ordered a 10wt TFO Mangrove rod for striper and some salt water fishing.

    The 4/0 600SP hooks look serious! Do you tie your own flies? I don’t have the equipment so I’m wondering if anyone has any recommendations where to purchase decent striper flies. None of the local fly shops seem to have them.


    R Black

    Hey Mike, is a good place to look for striper flies.

    Good on you Travis, great set of values.

    Mike TolbertMike Tolbert

    Thanks R Black!


    Great fish AND teeth – thanks for the photos.

    Will second Bears den flies – I have some of their bigger stuff for cod fishing and they’re really well tied.

    A picture is thousand words that takes less than a second while a thousand words is a picture that takes a month.

    Mike TolbertMike Tolbert

    Travis, I caught my first Striper on a fly rod. I caught this little guy on my 6wt.

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