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Temperate Bass on the Fly
written by Mike Huffman

Chasing stripers, white bass and hybrids is a great way to hone your fly-fishing skills.
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Linesides on the Fly
White bass and stripers are able to hybridize, producing "wipers" or "hybrids," which are indetifiable by broken horizontal lines on its sides.

Originally, striped bass were anadromous (migrating from the sea to fresh water to spawn), and native to the Atlantic seaboard. Because of their hard-fighting temperament and ability to live in fresh water, Fish and Game departments in many states began to stock stripers and white bass to enhance their inland freshwater fisheries. Successful fisheries now exist all over the country.

The primary inland angling techniques involve fishing impoundments from boats. However, fly anglers are able to take best advantage of feeder streams or tailwaters below dams.

Fishing moving water on foot is an approach most fly fishers can easily warm up to. Because the size of fish can vary, tailwater striper hunters might use anything from a 6 weight outfit on up to a 10 weight.

If you haven't added any spare spools with sink-tip or full-sink lines to your war chest, it might be a good time to start. Depending on the amount of water being released and its depth, you'll want a sink-tip or full-sink line to get your fly down.

There is nothing subtle about striper fishing, and shorter, heavier leaders are a welcome change from fussing with 6X trout tippet. Generally there is no reason to use anything lighter than 10-pound-test leaders.

Stripers will hold in the same lies that trout do, including eddies and seams. The presentation is straight forward streamer fishing. Methodically cover the water, swinging your fly through every possible holding spot, making sure the fly is getting down in the water column. You will lose some flies, so bring plenty.

Size of fly is often more critical than color. Every region has its favorites, but you can't go wrong with an assortment of baitfish patterns that mimic local forage fish such as shad. The size of the forage will vary. Knowing what size the forage is at the time of your trip is key.

Best success is tied to the nature and rhythm of water releases from the dam. Heavy releases will bring fish upstream. When releases are then cut back, the fly angler has full access to a lot of fish. After a period of time, the fish begin spooking back downstream. (Spending prolonged time in shallow water without concealment is not part of a striper's genetic code.) The next water release starts the cycle over again.

When wading heavy flows, there's always the danger of losing your footing and "going down." We have great equipment nowadays to answer that. For instance, carry a wading staff and add screw-in cleats to your felt soles. Also, wear a flotation device; new self-inflating Coast Guard Approved PFDs are spendy, but they are less bulky than conventional PFDs and a great investment for the one time you might really need it.

White bass are close enough cousins of stripers that they are able hybridize, producing what are commonly referred to as "Wipers" or "Hybrids." In the spring, white bass begin to congregate in lakes at the mouth of feeder streams. When rains bring up the flow, the fish move up the creeks to spawn. The better the runoff, the better the run.

Every season anglers turn out in droves to fish for whites, stripers and hybrids. In this game, a fly angler accustomed to reading streams has a natural edge. Chasing these landlocked bruisers is a great way to hone your skills; they are schooling fish and allow more opportunity to make mistakes than the average trout.

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