The previous quote is author Peter Kaminski's description of a bass blitz off of Montauk Point, Long Island, NY in his book "The Moon Pulled up an Acre of Bass" (available through the shop, and an excellent read). I paid a visit to this Serengeti off the Atlantic coast this October to participate in this incredible migration. This is saltwater angling at its best where one has to occasionally put down his rod to marvel at the spectacle of the Striped Bass, false albacore and bluefish ripping through the surface and tearing up the baitfish with such aggression that I still can hear the hissing sound in my head.
What's Montauk Point? Most of the fish that live on the northerly banks of the Atlantic seaboard move south come fall. They stay between the Gulf Stream and the coast and are funneled into its narrowest part, where Montauk Point meets the ocean. There, enormous numbers of baitfish are concentrated off this rocky point and preyed upon by all kinds of game fish. When the timing is right, the fish can be thick and aggressive and present the most fun a fly fisherman can possibly have. Stripping small traditional saltwater streamers at full speed was easy pickings for a false albacore capable of moving at speeds of 40mph. Using a quick but more seductive strip was the strategy for getting the stripers to hit. Bluefish just hit randomly, for these predators are like ancient Romans, vomiting their food just for the sole purpose of continuing to eat.
The annual fall striper migration is based around cooling water temps and the various baitfish including the peanut bunker and silverside coming out of the bays and into the ocean. The fish are keyed into this pattern and like a little extra protein before the chill of winter sets in. When the stripers find the baitfish the feed is on and the massive blitz of fish can stretch on for acres.
Typically natural colored flies that range from size 2-4 were the most effective. The bait they're chasing are quite small and the flies did not need to be identical to them. The only flies that proved ineffective were ones with flash. For some reason, they just would not commit to a fly with too much flashy material tied in. Tan clousers were probably the most effective. Crease flies were very fun to throw for false Albacore. It appeared the False albacore also liked smaller flies even down to a size 6. Floating lines were fine but an intermediate was nice to have in the event the schools of fish were down deeper and were not boiling on the surface.
Line pickup is a huge benefit when needing to get a fish on reel quickly. Reels that feature a true large arbor make it easy to pick line up off the bottom of the boat and get the fish on the reel. There is an abundance of reels that have nice large arbors; WWL Vanquish, the Abel Super Series, Ross F1, and Hatch Finatic. These reels allow anglers to put on almost 12 inches of line per turn! Going back to a traditional arbor reel, I felt the problems of stumbling on the slack line on the bottom of the boat and more difficulty putting a fish on the reel. A good reel with a large arbor and solid drag is one of those product benefits not totally appreciated until you are faced with not having it.
Fly rods designed for this type of saltwater fishing require a stiff, fast action that can pull up a fast sinking line with ease and have a heavy backbone for lifting power. I get asked a lot about "overlining" a rod. I usually recommend it because it allows the caster to feel the rod load and helps with the timing of the cast. It is especially effective for intermediate level casters where timing is a challenge.
Many manufacturers offer great technology, especially at the high end. Winston uses Boron; Sage has introduced Konnetic Technology, Hardy has Sintrex Technology, and GLoomis has the NRX. All this new technology allows anglers to apply maximum pressure to a fish and still have a lightweight rod in their hand. The investment into a good rod is something that is well worth its weight in fish and is just plain pleasurable to cast. The new developments in rod technology have also spawned a new field of moderately priced rods that are also high performance.