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seagull
12-10-2008, 10:40 AM
The year of the striper is winding down. With only 3 weeks left, hopefully there will be a couple of trips to the steam plants before the New Year starts (if it gets cold enough). In the last 21 years since I caught my first striped bass on a fly, this year has been head and shoulders above the rest. 230 stripers landed (25 trips, of which only one was fishless), including a new personal best of 26 pounds (as well as Flat Fly'n's personal best 20 pounder). In fact I had landed more stripers this year by March 1st than I caught all of last year. I think I know what happened to make it such a great year.

Historically, fishing for stripers below the steam plants and dams meant catching many, many skipjack (Tennessee tarpon, shad, or whatever you like to call them). Some days there were so many that you could catch one every cast and we have caught them up to 4 pounds. Somehow you had to get the fly past the shad and white bass to hook a striper. But this year the skipjack have disappeared. I only caught 3 or 4 at the steam plant (Kingston) last winter, and only remember catching 1 below Melton Hill all year. There were still huge schools of threadfin and gizzard shad, so the stripers have had to key in on smaller food, which has been a boon to us fly guys. I think the larger fish have had to eat constantly to get enough food which also helps. I canít explain why the shad are gone, and have not seen this condition in the past. It will be interesting to see what next year brings.

Happy holidays to everyone, and keep on casting!

milligan trout degree
12-10-2008, 04:57 PM
Seagull,

Do you ever fish for stripes below cherokee dam? I've heard they're there and I've seen large dead ones downstream before. I figure there must be one of two things going on. 1. the fish are there and no one is talking or 2. the fish are there, just not good enough to fish much. Not asking for any special secrets, just want to know if its worth casting for them below the dam all day, or if I should just go on downstream and catch some trout.

ben

seagull
12-11-2008, 05:52 PM
Ben,
I would give it a try. I fish mainly below Melton Hill, which is only 9 miles away from the house. I have tried numerous parts of the river to find where the fish are under certain conditions, and have gotten to know it well. I also fish below Ft Loudon, but my biggest fish have all been from below MH. I have not tried any of the other tailwaters. I think there is some degree of seasonal striper fishing below all the area dams, so grab a sinking line and any fly that imitates a threadfin shad (or rainbow trout) and start exploring. I don't know if you will be in a boat or wading. I have caught a couple of stripers while wading, and it is a blast, but having a boat enables you to CHASE them, which can be a necessity. Maybe I can talk Byron into bringing his kayak out next spring when the generators are off and see if we can get him into some good stripers. Talk about going for a ride! Let me know how you do if you decide to try it.