Well, I decided to try something off the wall this year, and, therefore, I am sticking with fishing fly patterns that are at least 10 inches or longer exclusively all season.
All I can say is the only thing it seems to guarantee is fish under 24 inches are not successfully hooked, and you catch a lot less fish. However, the goal has been catching stripers in the 30 inches or larger class, which has finally been taking off in the last five days.
Looking at 2016 and 2018, by May 20, I had over 50 fish caught; only a few were of keeper size, with no fish larger than 20 pounds. In those years, I often would throw standard-size flies that were seven inches or less on more than half of my fishing trips.
So far for 2019, I have only caught 13 fish total but not one fish smaller than 24 inches. Six were of keeper size, and two were in the 20-pound class (36 and 38.5 inches, respectively).
I need a full season’s data for a meaningful comparison. All I can say for sure is that large flies seem to eliminate successfully hooking fish smaller than 24 inches. My strike conversion rate is way down, which I believe is due to small fish failing to successfully take the very long fly patterns. I also have skunked on 50% of my fishing trips, and in 2016/2018, my skunk rate was well under 15%.
So, I don’t have any concrete conclusions at this time, but I thought that sharing these early observations may be interesting to anglers out there.
Last, I want to make a point of letting you know that I threw large flies for two full days when the sun was up. I did not get anything at all to hit, so, if you don’t fish at night, I am not recommending you try this as my daylight results were awful!
Tight lines to everyone during the 2019 striped bass season here in New England!