The sheer quantity of menhaden that congregates in Jamaica Bay, as well as its size, poses a problem for the fly angler. It’s not easy to imitate a 14-inch baitfish. They’re not easy to tie, they’re not easy to find and they’re certainly not easy to cast. If you do succeed in creating an acceptable imitation, it’s tough to get a bass to go for it when so much of the real thing is around. I’ve found a few things increase my odds dramatically. First of all, look for small pods of tightly schooled bunker. Odds are that school is packed so tightly because there are several big bass corralling them. Also, look for nervous or over active bunker. Most of the time they’re acting that way for a reason.
Once you’ve located a school that looks promising, it’s important to get the fly down and under the pod where bass are feeding. For this you’ll need a 10- or 11-weight rod, and a 550- to 850-grain fast-sinking line. Not only does the weight of the line help get the fly down, it allows for an acceptable cast with that giant bunker fly. Follow these few simple rules, and your odds of success will be much higher. And don’t be surprised if a big bluefish takes your fly. A small wire tippet is advisable.