It's high noon, blue-bird sky, light colored sand, incoming tide, cool breeze blow-in',
standing in 2-3 feet of crystal clear water in June, July and August. Girls in grass skirts
surround you (just kidding). Sound like the Caribbean?
Here on the Cape, we have miles and miles of light colored sand flats and crystal clear
water that makes sight casting to 5-25 pound stripers the order of the day. This is probably
the most exciting type of fly-fishing you will ever do. They're cruising the flats eating crabs,
shrimp, silversides and sand lances, and just waiting for your perfectly cast fly. Sometimes
you need to burn up the water with a fast retrieve and at other times using a dead drift with
the current is all that is needed. All methods will require distance, speed and accuracy in
your casting skills.
You have some of the finest destination flats fishing in the world right here on Cape Cod.
Seeing hundreds or more fish in a tide is the norm. Test your skills and let's work together
to help you along the path to hooking up in paradise.
Flats: A large expanse of shallows, consisting of mud, eelgrass or sand.
Stripers and blues come to this area in search of food. As the sand flat becomes covered
with water the baitfish move up onto the flat through troughs, sluiceways and channels
to escape the predators. Approximately 2 hours before the high the predators come up
onto the flat following these same troughs (like roads) in search of food. This would be
a good place to stand and sight cast to them.
Sun and no wind make for optimal sight fishing conditions as they cruise the flat. At
high tide many times you will find them in 6 inch's of water tight to the shore, again,
this is were there next meal is hiding. So this would be an additional area to prospect
during that stage of the tide.
As the water starts to recede, the larger fish will leave that area and depart off the flat
using similar channels and sluiceways that they came up on. This is another prime
spot to fish.
Normally they will hold, waiting in ambush in the deeper water for the baitfish to get
flushed off the flat. My next move would be to stand close to the edge of the flat and
cast my fly into the creek that is flowing off the flat. I'd allow my fly to swing and sink,
imitating a baitfish being washed off the flat.
This is one of many basic feeding patterns that never changes and consistently repeats
itself, tide after tide.
Fish Tails: July 1999 on the Flats
While wading one day, we had large bass coming at us from all directions for an hour
steady. At one point, we were totally surrounded with bass in one to three feet of water.
Martin asked me where he should cast and my response was, anywhere. It just didn't
matter. These same fish continued to repeat this pattern all summer long.
A couple of days later I was treated to a day on Captain Dave Steeves, 18' Hewes flatsboat.
We had ideal conditions and we counted close to 2,000 bass on the flats in one to four feet
of water. There were good numbers in the ten to fifteen pound range. Dave and I both
released a fish in the twenty-pound range, plus smaller ones. Captain Dave is one of
the top flats boat guides on the Cape.
Again, ideal conditions followed the next day. We enjoyed watching schoolie bass chase
bait onto the beach in three inches of water. We knelt on the dry sand forty feet away to
keep a low profile. The fly was cast ten feet into the water with fly line never touching it.
Two strips of the fly and Bill was hooking up.
We also had fifty or so bass in all sizes stacked up in front of us in a narrow channel feeding
on the incoming tide. It reminded me of guiding on the Salmon River in New York for tackle
busting twenty to thirty pound King Salmon. Spoiled we were as we could see each fish
and pick out the one we wanted to present the fly to and catch. When a smaller fish tried
to grab it, we would pull it away. What a hoot!
We decided to play, so I put on a shrimp pattern I designed and drifted it through the bunch
on a floating line. We waited until we saw the flash (they often turn sideways when feeding,
creating a silvery flash) then immediately set the hook. We never felt the fish hit. Instead
we just set by sight! We both laughed and couldn't help feeling like two little kids in a
Lately, we've been spotting tailing bass in the AM. incoming tide on the flats. They've
been in a foot of water standing on their heads grubbing for breakfast. There tail's are
completely out of the water flopping back and forth for balance, oblivious to us. A quiet
approach and stealth like stalking are needed when getting into casting position. Or just
let them come to you.
When there is no sun to help you sight fish; read all of mother natures signature
clues, signs she gives you and just cast.
Clouds, Rain, Fog, Major lightning, seals moaning, birds diving, bait spraying, tides running
hard and the sweet smell of the salt accompanied us today. No sight fishing today? Actually
we sight fished, structure, current, birds, swirls, and fish crashing bait. The terns can be a
great help in locating fish on the flats when overcast and cloudy weather prevails.
At one point John Davidson from England was casting into 6 in. of water and letting
the current swing his fly over a 1 ft. drop in the sand (rip). We were imitating a baitfish
being swept along in the current. The fish were holding tight along the edge of the drop
eating heavily and were more than eager to eat Johns fly on numerous occasions.
Total for the day was 10 fish in all and the 2nd fish of the A.M. on the 5th cast topped
the days tally with a beautiful 36-in. bass. John stated, "I've fished around the world, but
this is a day I will never forget!"
We even had a tea break at 2:00, promptly. ~ Randy Jones
Randy Jones is a full-time professional fly/spin fishing guide with over
18 years of experience. He has represented the Orvis Corporation as a
guide and chief instructor of their 2 1/2 day Saltwater Fly fishing
schools. During the summer, Randy can be found guiding the Monomoy Island area
where sight casting on the flats to trophy Striped Bass is his
specialty. During the Fall, Winter, and Spring Randy runs drift boat and
wade trips on the world class Salmon River for Steelhead, Coho, Browns,
Atlantics, and Kings.
or vist his Web Site http://www.yankeeangler.com/