What a difference a few days make. Last trip was my best of the year and Friday night was my worst trip of the year. Was going to fish the ocean this morning, but decided that with a perfect tide in the early evening it would be more fun to fish for stripers in the back bay with popping flies. Left the dock with spin fishing friend that I use to fish the back bay with, during the good old days when there were stripers, bluefish and bait fish galore all over the back areas. Every night we would catch good numbers of fish and around dusk and you would always see feeding fish swirling or nervous bait fish jumping. We left the dock at 5:00 pm. with the tide to still come in for about another hour. Water was nice and clean in the back and temps were from 69 to 73 degrees. At the first spot we worked, in less than 1/2 an hour we caught 3 small stripers up to 23 inches and missed 2 hits. With it early in the evening we thought we were going to be in for a banner night as the sun got lower, as it should only get better. It wasn't to be. It went down hill fast and stayed that way the whole rest of the trip. Fishing was so poor and with the westerly wind we couldn't even get the greenheads to bite. (Not that we wanted them to)
We had perfect conditions. The wind was light, good water clarity and temps and a perfect tide. We tried just about as many prime spots that you could possibly fish in 4 1/2 hours time. (My longest trip of the year) Each spot looked perfect except for little to no amounts of bait fish. Most bait fish that we saw all night was a couple of little jumps of 1/2 long stuff that his popping plug or my popper fly would spook. It was the most frustrating trip this year as we moved from one spot to another and covered miles of area. In the four hours after catching those first fish we had a total of 3 small swirls behind our poppers with no actual hits on them. My buddy could not believe how much the fishing had changed over the years as we worked many of the same spots that use to produce constantly years ago, with out even a sign of any fish or bait fish. We had a beautiful sunset and headed back to the dock around 9:30 pm.
Just the other week there were a decent amount of fish around, in the back, even though there was hardly any bait fish. This all make me believe that we get schools of the northern migrating stripers that come into our back bay, stay for a couple of tides, find no food and go back out and head further north. For past number of year this is about the time that the fishing starts to really drop off. Only the smallest stripers tend to hang around as they are the only ones that can survive on such small bait fish.
We know that the poor fishing last night was not do to our fishing skills, but just due to the fact that the fish were just not there in any numbers. You just can't cover that much shallow water with out finding a few fish, with such perfect conditions.