What a great week the first week of September was. My wife and I spent the week on vacation in Rehoboth Beach. Since both of our kids are getting older and starting lives of their own we have been vacationing solo for the past few years. Some will say it is too crowded, others will say the traffic is unbearable, both of these statements could be considered true. Over the years we have really come to enjoy this quaint little beach town. Now, this was not a "fishing" vacation (my wife would say it is never not a "fishing" vacation). It was also not a "working" vacation, but I did plenty of that as well. The point is with just the 2 of us it is not hard for me to sneak in a morning or two of chasing some Saltwater Speedsters with the fly.
I haven't fished the salt on a regular basis for some years. The decline in the salt fishing coupled with super high gas prices (remember when gas was over $4.50 / gallon) forced me to stay more local with my fishing some years ago. Things are different now and I plan to, at least in my fishing, live the "Salt Life" a little more in the future. It took a little planing, but I hooked up with my buddy Shawn Rakes of Sussex County Fly Fishermen for some early morning (or was it late night) fishing from his 20' skiff.
Saltwater fly fishing is all about the tides. The fish typically feed at the peak of the tides and kinda go dormant during the slack portions. The tides have no clock so if you want to chase them you better wrap your mind around the fact you will be keeping some strange hours. So the alarm went off at 2:00 am and I was up and out the door in short order.
The wind was absolutely howling so a quick text to Shawn to bring an extra 9 weight. As mentioned this was not a fishing vacation. We took my wife's Mustang for the trip and space was limited. The car is awesome, but the trunk is the size of a postage stamp! I took one 2 hander and one 7 weight rod, as soon as I stepped out of the door I knew the seven weight NRX was gonna stay safely in the tube.
We met at the boat ramp at 3:00. The rods were rigged, the boat was launched and we were on our way. This boat is set up perfectly for fly fishing. The tunnel hull rides dry and it sits just above the water. All of the cleats are recessed so there is no danger of catching your line and there is a huge casting platform on the bow. The 115 Mercury brought her up on plane with ease as we motored to the spot we were fishing.
This type of fishing requires precision and teamwork. One guy maneuvers the boat while the other casts to the structure. When fishing structure while the tide is running at it's peak is not for the faint of heart. Driving a 20' boat within fifty feet of hull ripping structure requires a skill set, and for 3 hours straight Shawn kept me within comfortable casting distance of the fish.
What fly are we fishing?
I asked Shawn what bait is in the water and what fly we would be using. He kinda smiled and said we would be fishing the "Rakes Dock Light Special" Sean developed this adaptation for dock lights Striper after many years of this type of fishing. Many years of experimentation and "tweaking" have gone into this pattern, it is a spot on match for the 3" Silversides and Bay Anchovies that congregate around the lights and shadow lines that form when the sun goes down.
We were a little early for the tide and it took about an half hour for the water to really get going, once it did it was game on! The picture quality is a little suspect...it was 3:00 am, dark and misty but I think you get the idea.
I guess we landed just south of 20 Bluefish up to 5 pounds and 3 Striper in the mid 20 inches. A good morning for sure. The beauty of living where we live is we have legitimate fishing opportunities available to us 12 months of the year. The Fall Salt run is just getting started! Be sure to get out there before Ole Man Winter tightens his grip. Till Next time...
P.S. Irish Flies has obtained the recipe for the "Rakes Dock Lights Special". If you are interested contact me if you would like me to tie you a few. If you fish where there are Silversides or Anchovies you will be glad you did. Just don't ask me how to tie it...I have been sworn to secrecy.