Welcome to Salt Water Fly Fishing

Welcome to Fly Fishing The Salt! If you are just discovering the joys of fly fishing the salt (or salt chuck as some call it) here you will find information to steer you in the right direction. Tips on what equipment to use, why, where and how to fish. And we will try to include a little inspiration to get you going. For the experienced salt water angler, there will be personal stories about real fishermen and their experiences, tips on what flies for which fish and techniques that work. Your stories and articles are also most welcome. Share the knowledge and adventure. Pass it on! This is for you.

Sight-Fishing Waters

By Alan Caolo, Rhode Island

The first step when sight-fishing is to find suitable water in which to stalk stripers. Quality flats have certain geological and marine characteristics that ensure consistent water clarity; support a healthy, nutrient-rich bottom, moderate water temperatures, and consistently draw stripers to feed. The layout of the bottom contour, including shoals, drop-offs, channels, sand bars, holes and the accessibility to and from deep water that stripers use to enter and exit the flats, strongly influences how well a flat will fish.

If you fish with a guide you should hire someone who specializes in sight-fishing.

Sight-fishing guides know where and when to find the fish, they know how to stalk them and they will be properly equipped. When fishing on your own, suitable flats may be located by field observation (during both low and high tides), examining nautical charts and coastal maps, and by aerial inspection, if that's realistic for you. Getting up in a small aircraft over water you plan to fish often is an invaluable experience and it's not expensive if a few friends get together and hire a pilot for an afternoon; don't forget the camera. Talk to people involved around the water whenever you can. Surfers, jet skiers (here's your chance to make something positive of them), swimmers and clam diggers are all reliable spotters and most know a striper when they see one. Unlike other anglers, who may be reluctant to pass this information on, these folks are usually more than happy to help.

All flats are not necessarily good sight-fishing waters. Some shallow areas are great for evening fishing but attract a few fish during the day. Others may hold fish only during specific seasonal events, such as annual worm hatches. Still others may be fertile areas, but have dark or weed-covered bottoms that make spotting fish difficult. And some are just plain inert and do not attract stripers, period. Sight-fishing flats have distinct features that differentiate them from other inshore waters. Knowing these attributes enables you to consistently locate probable flats on which to find cruising bass.

The most important element is a rich food supply. Without it, a flat becomes a very unlikely sight-fishing area. The variety of prey governs how well the flat will continue to fish as the striper's food preference shifts throughout the season. For example, inshore stripers may feed steadily on juvenile sand eels and flounder for four or five weeks and then leave the estuary with the seaward departure of these baitfish in early summer. Strong resident shrimp and crab populations, however, will hold these dietary preference simply shifts to a new food source.

Inshore Flats

Of the three sight-fishing environments, inshore flats are the most prevalent and generally the easiest to access. The combination of marine and geographic ingredients required to produce quality fishing come together far more often than those required for sight-fishing beaches and there is no needs for a skiff. The countless small - and medium sized inshore flats scattered throughout the Northeast certainly surpass all the marquis offshore destinations combined in total aggregate acreage. These flat are found along harbor and bay edges, inside protected barrier beaches, and throughout salt ponds and estuary systems. Flats surrounded by tidal marshland are particularly fertile, sustaining a wide variety of prey and consistent sight-fishing throughout the season. Their diverse structure creates a multitude of interesting opportunities for the sight-fisher and the same skills and thought process that go into reading bonefish flats apply here. It is here that sight-fishing for stripers and bonefishing become nearly the same.

Inshore flats are most effectively fished by walking the water's edge or by wading in knee-deep water. The fishing is more intimate than the big-water, team operation typical of the offshore experience, and it is far more tranquil than the exhilarating, high energy experience of the surf. The fish most often found in these waters run smaller than those normally found on ocean flats and are noticeably less educated.

As a result, inshore fishing is simpler than in other sight-fishing waters. Forgiving fish in a forgiving fly fishing environment moderate the challenge making this the best place to learn and gain experience. It's fun and relaxing fishing - no boat, no guide, no waves, plenty of space and plenty of hungry fish! ~ Alan Caolo

Credits: Excerpt and photo from Sight-Fishing for Striped Bass Fly-Fishing Strategies for Inshore, Offshore and the Surf, by Alan Caolo, Published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.

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