Flats Logic #4 [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Flats Logic #4

03-01-2004, 06:09 AM
Topic: Safety

You pull into the parking lot on the bayside of Cape Cod adjacent to the Brewster Flats at low tide under thick clouds and light rain on a sopping thick summer dog day. Sand eels have been thick on the shoals this summer so you've had banner days all season thus far, and you know this flood tide will bring willing eaters to your deep eel if you make the 7/10th of a mile jog out to the edge of the big flat directly ahead.

You've donned all the necessary paraphenalia but due to experience, are a little concerned about the possibility of lightning, one of the most dangerous threats to the flats angler. Was that a rumble and flash? Hard to tell, the sky is so thick and it was a ways off.

How do you determine whether lightning is in the vicinity before making the commitment to the the outer limits of Brester Flats where you are exposed to the elements and must escape over almost a mile of water covered sand if lightning kicks up?

03-01-2004, 06:52 AM
Listen to news on AM radio while assembling your gear. Any crackling and static, reconsider the venue.

03-01-2004, 07:21 AM

Should've known that a fellow bayside hound would get that one.

The AM radio trick works so well I put a cheapo transistor radio and earset into my backpack for those moments when a surprise electrical storm threatens after already being out there. Having a vaccum sealer, I sealed the radio in a bag with it's little earset like I did with the spare GPS batteries.

Of course there is no substitute for common sense, and any possibility of lightning should be dealt with via prevention rather than a chaotic cure.


Current score:

Sean McDermott: 1
Dble Haul: 1
Paxton: 1
FredA: 1

Maybe a better way to do this is to use these to get contestants and draw two winners from a hat. In any case, we'll figure it out as we go.

Dble Haul
03-01-2004, 08:02 AM
I remember this one....you once alluded to it in another thread (perhaps in the "Works for Me" area) some time ago.

Good info. :)

John Desjardins
03-01-2004, 08:27 AM
Juro, I thought that you always recomended that one fishes Brewster on the falling tide, rather than the incoming tide. Water comes in fast & deep on the bayside. Wouldn't this be as big a potential safety hazzard as the lightning?

03-01-2004, 08:51 AM
The best time to sight fish Brewster Flats with a fly is on the beginning of the flood, where it transitions from the safest time to be out there to the most dangerous time - peak flood. Only the exprienced B/F angler can really exploit this without risk, as you point out.

True I always recommend people to fish the outgoing especially on the internet because you can not get hurt doing that. You can also find fish turned to the ebb current feeding and have some good action in the bowls above the blue hole, as well as the trenches starting the 30 ft deep abyss in the sand on the landward tip of the hole. Even the biggest fish sit in the hole waiting for the turn of tide.

When I did shore trips out there I started them while there was still outgoing current through low tide, venturing forward to the trench; then for the first hour of the flood backing up along the straight tongue of sand as the fish rush in along the open channel or to the snakey trenches to the west that also bring fish at a later phase right up to the moorings by the parking lot in fact. The most exciting part of the outing is always the start of the flood, but when the fish are in the whole thing is interesting.

The problem is the fishing gets red hot as the flood picks up and if you are lulled into staying you could be screwed. The experienced angler know when to pull out as hard as it may be at the moment.

So to summarize, if you are not familiar with Brewster Flats fish the outgoing, but wait until enough of the flats are exposing themselves so you can see what's what out there in terms of structure.

As you learn where the high and continuous shoals are (the first to drain on the ebb) you can safely extend the fishing into the first 30 minutes to 45 minutes of the flood, making sure to back up on the high shoals as the tide and fish encroach.

On the final phase of flood before it tapers off, look for even the slightest sign where any channels end near shore, the terminus of flood channels. I know of several that have a bowl at the end and the fish rush into these channels and lounge around for the high tide near the shore grasses feeding with their tails popping out once in a while. A flounder fly is simply deadly here, I've been doing the clear epoxy flounder fly trick here since the late 90's and they are hot on sand eels, flounder, crabs and other critters when they are sitting in these spots. If a tern flying overhead even does a swivel turn to look at one of these spots, cast the fly in there and don't be in any hurry to retrieve. There's a reason the bonefish anglers use weighted eyes on their deadliest flies, the point must ride up or you will catch more junk than fish in these shallows.

John Desjardins
03-01-2004, 09:28 AM
Thanks Juro. As one who rarely gets out on the flats and, who has scared the crap out of himself in the past I'll stick to the outgoing. Unless I'm with someone who is experienced at that flat.

03-01-2004, 09:51 AM
One of the problems with weather in general is it can change real fast. Late afternoon build-up in mid summer can produce some spectacular T storms. I did a bit of searching and came up with this ...


The transistor-radio sounds like a cost effective alternative - how is the range?

One scary statistic - 75% of people struck by lightning are struck with blue sky overhead:eyecrazy: If you're within 10 miles it can get you.

03-01-2004, 10:01 AM
Adrian -

Nice find, the features are outstanding and for folks who spend a lot of time on the water, in small craft, or on golf courses it could be a real life-saver.

I can't say exactly how wide the range is on the AM radio method, but it's much further than the human ear can hear over ambient noise and certainly further than the eye can see in daylight conditions. My guestimate would be 20-30 miles, maybe even more.

Every time there is a possibility of lightning even when I am not fishing I put the radio on AM just to hear the noises - shopping, running errands, etc. Rarely are the strikes detectable visually or by sound without the radio static blurts, about a second long (varies) in fact if the strikes were visible or hear-able I shut off the radio because the it's no longer interesting at that point.

03-01-2004, 10:11 AM
Better than a cell phone, or AM radio is a marine waterproof radio.
I have one and carry it all the time . Here's what it can do.
Give weather alerts.
You can talk to the Coast Guard
Has the emergency channel 16
You can also talk to other boats in the area.
A must have piece of equipment which I am surprised that more of the Forum don't have. In fact it's your lifeline out there.
Take if from me , things happen so fast out there that Mother
Nature doesn't give you a second chance too often. Just my .02
As an after thought . Wear inflatable vest it may save your life!!

03-01-2004, 10:16 AM
Talking of life vests, I just remembere'd something from my kayaking lessons a couple of years back. If you should find yourself surrounded by thunderstorms out in the open, a PFD makes a good insulator (kneel down on it and crouch low).

Sounds like torture but wet sand is an excellent conductor!!!