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Stripers at York Beach, Maine

"The Old Country Store Hot Spot"

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By Mike Christy

  Curt Gowdy once did an American Sportsman segment not far from here. I can see the rocky cliffs at the north end of the beach where they shot the film. The boulders lead down to a pounding surf and eventually meet the gray sand that makes up Long Sands Beach. It's a quiet September morning in York Maine with only a few locals walking dogs on the beach. It is dead low tide.

  I break out the two sections of stout fiberglass and jam them together to form my ten foot surf rod. I run the monofilament through the guides, tie on a 4-ounce blue and white Striper Swiper plug and head towards the water.

  We are in front of the Old Country Store on Rt1A. At low tide there is an outcropping of rocks that extends about 100 yards into the Atlantic. The rocks are covered with barnacles and various seaweed that makes traversing them a far cry from a walk on the beach. On each side of this rock formation the water depth slowly increases from the shore to near 12 feet at the point. There is surf on both sides with many pockets of froth and current formed by large rock formations and underwater ledges. This is striped bass heaven.

  This morning was not to be forgotten. Even though I had no camera, I wouldn't need it. The events are as fresh in my memory today as the day that they happened.

yorksurf.jpg (47691 bytes)  After a 10-minute hike to the end of the point I made my first cast. Boom, striper! A schoolie, but pretty good for the first one. I made sure my barbs were bent down and launched another attack. Damn snagged, no wait, another schoolie but much smaller, maybe a foot long this time. It's hard to tell with this heavy rod.

  Then with out warning, the surface of the water became alive with slapping tails. All around the point the water was boiling with bait and stripers! Cast after cast I hooked up, reeled in, and released a striper. On every cast a striper was caught! No one is going to believe that I caught a bass on every cast I thought.

  But the odd thing about this was every fish was a schoolie, the largest being about 26 inches. Shouldn't there be some larger fish in that pod as well?

  I moved from the end of the point to a shallower section near shore. The water was shallow enough to where I could see the bass chasing bait. I made my perch on a rising ledge near the water and launched my plug again. Through the crystal clear water I could see the bass following my lure. And the schoolies were not alone!

  There were big bass out there all right, but the little guys always beat the big ones to the plug. I could see those big black and white striped monsters trying to keep up with the schoolies, but they were just too slow. It was as though the schoolies had phantom fish three times their size following them wherever they swam, but never able to get a jump on the younger swimmers.

  The morning came to an abrupt end when some lovely bluefish suddenly came on the scene. They tend to chew up lures pretty good you know. My guess is the blues swim even faster than the schoolies and got to the lure even quicker. Two blues then a broken plug, fun over.

  Next time you get into a school of fish just remember that there may be more under the surface than what you bring to the side of the boat. Small tends to be fast, and big tends to be slow, at least in my book of striped bass lore.

Good Fishing!


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