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
Inshore Flats, part 3

By Alan Caolo, Rhode Island

Offshore sight-fishing is often compared to flats fishing in tropical locations, such as the Florida Keys. As their name implies, these flats are located some distance off shore and must be accessed by boat. Once anglers have reached the fishing grounds they may fish them from the skiff, to cover large areas, or disembark to stalk specific areas on foot.

In addition to mobility, fishing from a skiff has other advantages. Anglers achieve enhanced viewing while standing several feet above the water on the skiff's casting deck. They also benefit from an experienced guide, whose trailed eyes are even higher above the water when the boat is equipped with a poling platform. Hence, fishing from a skiff is generally the best option when working waters over two feet deep, or to improve spotting when the viewing. Wading is most effective in waters less than two feet deep when the skiff's presence may alert stripers and put them off the feed.

Off shore areas are best fished with an experienced sight-fishing guide who knows the waters. Guides know the fish and their habits, what flies are hot, and where to be on these huge flats at any given time to provide you the best opportunities on a given day. There are several first-class sight-fishing guides available in most regions that sport a sight-fishery and I highly recommend utilizing these professionals. A good guide is a good teacher and coach from whom you can learn a lot in a day.

These areas should be attempted on your own only after the area has been carefully surveyed. This is accomplished by reviewing nautical charts, NOAA current charts (if available) and speaking with locals to get a feel for the waters. On many flats the outgoing tide can easily leave a skiff high and dry if you're careless. Be aware of all hazards that can damage or strand boats venturing into these areas - before you set out. Unless you're operating a safe vessel that meets all U.S. Coast Guard rules and regulations for inshore craft and draws 18 inches of water or less, you shouldn't consider going on your own.

Offshore flats often lie within migratory routes that striped bass follow as they travel northward in the spring and southward in the fall. As a result, large numbers of fish are consistently seen transiting these flats each year. Encountering large striper schools containing hundreds and even thousands of fish on any given day is typical here during the arly and late fringes of the season (May/June and September/October). Numerous pods of trophy fish, numbering 10 to 50 fish in a school, also pass through at these times. In May or June the fish are fresh off the spring migration and offshore aters are still relatively cool. These early-season stripers feed more actively and respond aggressively to flies. As waters warm later on, the fish settle down and become noticeably selective, less aggressive feeders.

These flats are generously swept with clean, clear ocean water, which supports a healthy, stable good chain. Abundant food sources, consisting of year-round resident prey within the bottom and seasonal baitfish schools, hold large number of migrating stripers for days or weeks at a time for interim feeding. As a result, offshore flats consistently produce outstanding sight-fishing opportunities making the extra effort required to get to them well worth it. ~ 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 premission.

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