Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Back home with a new addiction to add to the list

I got back into Heathrow just in time on Saturday morning to pick my car up and head to my folks' house nearby to see England just about beat Scotland in one of those typical World Cup matches that shreds your nerves to pieces. We might well be in the quarter finals, but watching English rugby these days is not remotely easy !! To pass the time on my drive back down to Cornwall I began trying to mentally take apart that striped bass fishing trip and work out how badly I might or might not have got these fish. Resistance is most likely futile I am feeling.........

For a part of my work I get to spend time around some truly awesome fishing, but for the most part I am behind my cameras and without a fishing rod in hand. I love it, and I would not change it for the world, but when I really go fishing myself these days it seems to be mostly chasing bass on lures and sometimes bait. It's what I do. Sure, GTs on the flats for example is about as good as it is ever going to get, but I don't do this fishing day to day (and let's be honest, I never will !!). Sure, I get to work around it, but surely we are going to be naturally drawn to styles of fishing that most closely mimic those which we ourselves do ? I suppose I was always going to be drawn to the whole striped bass fishing thing because of its similarities to "our" bass fishing, and indeed shore fishing in general. Stripers of course get much bigger than our bass, and I have only scratched the surface of this fishing - but from my brief introduction I think I might have gone and gotten a whole new addiction. Help !!

We had one awesome morning on the stripers. The two lads from Cornwall who we hooked up with for a couple of days took Gordon and I to a location that they had been fishing with some success, but what happened for a couple of hours I think might have fried their brains !! From the first cast when Vaughan hooked into a striper off the top it was pretty obvious that they were on big time, and like anglers the world over we literally fell on the fish. Vaughan and Ruan smashed the stripers big time. All our fish came on surface lures, but it was the cheap as chips Cotton Cordell Pencil Popper that was easily doing the most harm.

The simple fact was that we needed to reach a tide rip where the fish were sitting, and if you got out there then for a while you were going to get stripers literally launching themselves at your lure (plus the odd bluefish). Doesn't get any better than this if you ask me. I had a few fish on the Xorus Patchinko, but the simple fact is that the Cotton Cordell Pencil Popper was getting out there a little easier, and the extra noise that the lure makes was definitely bringing the fish up better. It seems that in all that turbulence that a very noisy lure was really helping, and later on that day we met a US striped bass junkie who told me of some interesting and very simple ways to "doctor" a cheap lure like the Cotton Cordell to make it cast even further and then make even more noise on the retrieve. Now I can't imagine that loads of noise and disturbance is always a good thing, but in that situation on that particular morning it definitely paid off. Stripers to around 15lbs were landed, but believe me when I say that fish of that size don't even raise the merest corner of an eyebrow on the Vineyard. We had a blast, and it gave us all a brief taste of what this striper fishing can be like when it's on............

I am already making firm plans to head back over to Martha's Vineyard next June - all the local anglers I met and spoke to told me that this is the time to come over, and especially because there is an influx of big striped bass into the numerous saltwater lagoons as they chase a worm hatch. I like having options, and it seems that June is awash with them. One thing I really noticed is how much of the best striped bass fishing is at night. We had that one awesome morning, and I noticed that we had heavy cloud cover and rubbish light for photography. We went back there the next morning to coincide with the last of the flood tide again, but the weather was very different. Ruan had a fish straight away, I lost one, but the moment that big, bright sun hit the water and the fishing just died straight away. I guess that next June I am going to have to be almost completely nocturnal over there.

In time I hope that I get to check out more areas for striped bass fishing in the US, but it seems that with Martha's Vineyard that it's a place where a UK lure angler can take their own gear and potentially do really well. I would look to take a rod like my Tenryu Red Dragon Express to deal with chucking some of the larger lures when required, but I would also take a more "regular" 8' or 9' bass rod like many of us now use. A lot of the US anglers carry various "big" rod and reel set ups to deal with the really big, say 2-5oz lures, but with the variety of different ways in which you can fish for stripers on the Vineyard it seems that you can fish very effectively with the lighter outfits if you want to. Roll on next June.........