We spent 15 minutes on the phone with Capt. Tim O'Rourke to discuss casting to topwater striped bass both inshore and offshore with the Hogy Charter Grade Popper off of Montauk, New York. Here's what we learned...
Capt. Tim O'Rourke
Facebook: Montauk Point Fly Fishing
Targeted Species: Striped Bass + Bluefish
Location: Montauk, New York
When targeting striped bass or bluefish, Capt. Tim is in the perfect location to dabble in scenery and technique. Between the inshore estuaries, offshore rips and shoreline rock piles, the fishery is very diversified and easily accessible.
Tides: When fishing offshore, Capt. Tim often looks for rips to fish depending on the tidal cycle. Certain rips produce during flood tide while others are effective during the ebb. Around estuaries and close to shore, the fishing is good on both sides of the incoming and outgoing tide with minimal action during slack tide. While fishing the estuaries, Capt. Tim will pick certain areas that he has found fish better on either tide but for the most part, fishing is effective throughout the entirety of the tidal cycle.
Approach: When heading offshore to fish the rips, Capt. Tim finds these fish by visibly eyeing them slurping or feeding on the surface. If they are not visible to the naked eye, he can often count on birds working the surface which commonly indicates bait in the area and where there's bait, there is most likely fish.
Rigging/Lure Selection: Charter Grade Popper (5.5")
Why This Bait?: Capt. Tim specifically chooses the Charter Grade Popper because he wants a lot of surface action and he's found that the popper calls fish to the surface with its loud noises. He's also able to use it for multiple different scenarios such as slow and fast retrieves.
After the season is over and the plugs are work down, he often removes theirs hooks and uses them the following season in a bait and switch technique by casting and retrieving the same way he would if he hooks were still intact. In turn, this teases the fish just enough so his fly charters can drop a fly and hook up almost instantly.
Colors: Capt. Tim has found that almost all of the colors work similarly in effectiveness. The olive and blue silver work the best during the peak hours of the day when the sun is the brightest whereas the amber coloration works the best in the evenings or early mornings when the light is not as bright. But the olive seems to be consistent in any scenario and would be Capt. Tim's coloration of choice.
Retrieve: The first method that Capt. Tim will encourage his clients to use is a slow retrieve with small jerks that cause the lure to swim on the surface and give a little shutter pop which entices the fish. When casting inside inlets, estuaries and bays or casting towards shore, he will use a painfully slow retrieve with a little twitch. If he's not getting any action on the slow retrieve, he advises his clients to work it really hard and really fast to push a lot of water and make a ton of noise.
These lures are also great in the hands of kids and inexperienced anglers.
Rod: Capt. Tim uses a custom made spinning rod from MTK custom rods. Light/medium 7' rod.
Reel: Shimano Stratic 4000
Line: 15lb. Power Pro Braid
Leader: Rio 30lb - 50lb mono leader