View Full Version : Hardheads on the Fly
Like most of you, I keep seeing this report, Successfully targeting summer croaker on the Chesapeake Bay, every time I log in to Tidalfish. Well, I think it's starting to get to me as I am becoming anxious to go out and catch some this year. It's one fish I have never taken on the fly. Does anyone know of any good areas to try out within the western mid-bay => upper-bay region? Wade accessible waters preferably. Calm Kayak accessible waters otherwise. Do they come into the rivers at all?
I really no nothing about them so any help/tips would be much appreciated.
05-03-2005, 08:47 AM
Is that you, Paul?
05-03-2005, 08:47 AM
Yep - they come up in the rivers. Look for hard/shell bottom 15 - 25 feet. You'll need your 30 count to get your fly to the bottom.
Size 1 Clousers work great in all the known colors.
We had 40 on flies one morning last year - good fun and good fight on the fly rod.
PLO has had them for two weeks now.
05-03-2005, 08:48 AM
I cant help you on location for the western side of the bay considering I'm on the eastern shore but can give you some tips.
Croaker are of course bottomfeeders so keeping your fly down bouncing the bottom is the key (use a 225 to 300 grain line depending on depth). I've found that working shell bottom, or rocky structure often proves most effective but most any drop off, ledge or smooth bottom works too. It's more in how you fish for them sometimes than where. A "slooow" bouncing retrieve entices them, even dead sticking with subtle moves or just a steady drift while giving the fly a little movement will work.
My best flies that produce well are very bright in color. I like clousers or decievers anywhere from 2-4" (don't be afraid of using larger flies, at least over here we have some big Hardheads). As for colors, pink and chartreuse, or yellow and chart. work well as do orange and yellow or red and yellow. A good mix of flash of your choice works well. I like pearl flash colors or copper.
Just slow down your retrieve sometimes and I'm sure you will hook a nice Hardhead. If you're not sure they're around try a pinch of squid, bloodworm or fishbites on the fly (you don't need much) and if Hardheads are around they will bite it.
They are truly a gamefish on the fly... poor mans redfish :)
Good luck, once you hook a few on 7-8wgt. you will be impressed.
05-03-2005, 09:45 AM
Croaker/hardhead are a blast on fly. I use a an 8Wt with 350 teeny and a stout 20lb flour leader about four feet long. Or I use an intermediate line in water less than 6 feet. I fish mainly oyster bars in 15 to 3 feet of water with a slow retrieve. Maybe a six inch movement every couple of seconds. Slow works best.
The fly of choice is a self invented croaker fly. It is a steel chrome long shank hook with shaft bent up towards the hook about one third down the shaft from the eye. A stainlees steel bar-bel eye is tied at the bend and followed by white or chartuese chenile body wrap. Then two latex curl tails in clear sparkle or chartruese are tied at the hook bend. The curl on the tails follows the hook shape. The reason for the 1/3 bend up is to keep the tied end up out of the sharp oyster shells.
One other point to note about croakers is they move into shallows on a high tide and tend to bunch up on slow long points that meet up with creek channels..This works well in salt water feeder creeks with mud bottoms.
Capt Mike Starrett
Hey, CaptMikeStarrett, any chance you could post a pic of that fly?
And thank you all for your replys so far!
The Old Man
05-03-2005, 09:59 AM
Crab-colored clousers work well at Henlopen and the OBX....
05-03-2005, 10:00 AM
We usably get them along the beach; they will hit just about any clouser bounce along the bottom!
05-03-2005, 10:03 AM
I would post a picture of it if could. I have given out a bunch in the last couple of years. Perhaps someone has one of these ugly creations and could post it. Pax do you have one?
Capt Mike Starrett
05-03-2005, 11:24 AM
Nope - But if you take a pic - I'll post it for you.
Something else to mention - they move to shallow water at dusk.