Cape Cod and a thanks from Mike O. [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Cape Cod and a thanks from Mike O.

Mike Oliver
06-21-2007, 10:18 AM
Just back from the Cape and I wanted to take the opportunity to thank all the Fly guys and Plug Fishers for that matter that befriended me and my small party. Because most of my group are not natural Fly Fishers prefferring the plug and lure my opportunities to come to the Chatham area were in the end very resrticted. I only managed one trip to Monomy flats last Sunday and I was very gratful for the guidence given by Jim and the others in the party. The weather at 0700 was grim and it looked highly likely that fog would roll in. My worst nightmare. I even considered not going onto Morris Island as I looked at the sea from Chatham Light. But having travelled from Cotuit I decided to check out with keith of Rip Ryder. Jim aqnd his son Brad turned up plus several others so I shamlessly tagged along. We walked a long way out onto the flats and when the tide flooded about miday it was scary to a newbie to see the falts covered very quickly with knee deep water back to here we had set off. I did take a decent Silva compass and took a bearing back to land as soon as that awful fog rolled in. As the fog hit us the group huddled together and jim declared that we should stay close. He did ask me if I knew the way out and checked my bearing against his waterproof handheld GPS unit. Mine was not a great bearing but would have got me back to land if off course a tad from our entry point onto the flats.
The group of lads were fantastic guys to fish with. One or two had a very good day catching three or four keeper sized fish plus shorts and some managed a fish or two sight casting as the tide flooded. I got two shots and two refusals which has only served to draw me back next year. I did manage three very small fish blind casting into a channel whilst waiting for the tide to flood.
On a gear note I will remember to pack a D3 line next time even for the sight casting to get that clouser down quick in the fast moving water. The intermediate was a little slow. Most of the guys were using some sort of medium sinking line and did well with it.

What I remeber most and will cherish for ever was the comradeship. Thanks guys for a great day. One for the top draw.


06-21-2007, 10:53 AM
At times it may seem like the Forum is primarily about fishing.

Without any hesitation I say that it's mainly about camaraderie and even lifelong friendships!

06-21-2007, 03:31 PM
Mike, thanks for sharing your experience on the forum. The west flats of Monomoy can be intimidating and dangerous to the inexperienced. There are safe ways to get off the flats and then, as you indicated, fog to deal with at times. It has taken my about five years of exploring those flats to be somewhat comfortable in that area. Compass, GPS and knowing the channels are important to having a safe trip in that locale. Further, on moon tides, the current is cranking.

To those who have not fished the area, I would advise you either use a guide or fished with someone who knows the area well.

It was indeed nice to have you along and it was particularly nice to have my two sons, Brad and Chris, there for Father's Day.

06-21-2007, 04:16 PM
When you walk out onto a flat in a fog or an approaching fog you leave your better judgement on the shoreline. Sight fishing is best done in high ambient light :lildevl:

Take a look at this pic I took:

You can tell by the sun angle that it's the middle of the day. That's another angler in the distance.

Ad-lib notions of reading water flow and walking by gut feel will fail you. A compass is a great general directional tool, it will not tell you where you have wandered relative to the high shoals that are the retreat paths. In other words the compass will get you assuredly back to the mainland if you took a known bearing from the place you are starting back from but it will not tell you the best trails to get there and if you are deep into the crib or close to the Stage Harbor shoals off the north tip it can freak you out when you miss the land even though you are close in a pea soup fog unless you are incredibly accurate at counting paces (distance plus direction) you won't know when you've passed the island.

GPS is best. You should always walk the high ground out even at dead low and keep the cookie crumbs on or be dilligent about waypoints on high spots with good traversal.

Save your tracks! I download them onto my PC with trackmaker plus. I scout my way off Brewster Flats for instance late into the flood and save that path every year. I can't tell you how reassuring it is to have those late tide paths on the handheld even when it's not foggy!

I have the new garmin armband GPS but it does not take batteries and it's hard to remember to recharge it all the time. Batteries would give you a last minute alternative. So the old handheld is back in the chestpack. I have a vaccum sealer so sealed fresh batteries as an emergency set.

The problem is that current will flow in all different directions at the most dangerous times and being 50 feet to the left or right can mean the difference between swimming or a comfortable wade. Today's WAAS enabled handhelds will keep you in the comfort zone.

If you decide to fish the deep troughs on the way out at low make sure you know which way to offset that path on the return so you don't walk the deepest part of the flat (which is where you fished at low).

Most of all don't freak out. There are high humps a mile out on Monomoy where you can comfortably wait thru the whole tide. In fact the fishing will get good out there - the only snafu is that keith will probably have to come find you before sunset and we'll all hear about it at :)

Cell phone - a very good idea at such times.

Mike Oliver
06-21-2007, 05:44 PM

Thanks again for looking out for me on the flats. If I had not been a part of your group I would have had to turn back as soon as we walked through to the other side of the pole marked path, and waited until 1600 for Keith.
Neither Jim or Juro in my opinion is over stating the hazards that the flats present especially to a newbie and even also a reasonably experienced Angler. Compass bearings are fine if you have a straight line path you can follow and not have to allow for deviations caused by channels. Also in a fog you cannot walk accurataly to a bearing without a line of sight fixed object that is on your bearing path. Ok if there are two of you then one can be sent out to max visual range and lined up onto the bearing. The man with the compass then walks up to him and you repeat the procedure but very quickly inaccuracies will get built in.

GPS is I now believe an absolete must but in my view you cannot totally rely on it as they can fail through water ingress, shock damage and battery failure. Yes even so called water tight units have been known to spring a leak. It is a combination of hard won intimate knowledge of the flats, a GPS unit , compass, cell phone and the knowledge to use them and as Juro says not freaking when all goes wrong that should ensure your surviavl when fog or other problems hit.
Problem is that the risks are so much higher at the front end as you aquire that knowledge of the flats and I understand that the flats are not constant so if you are not local and fishing them frequently you have to consider that you are still taking risks. Even experienced Fishers with the knowledge make fatal mistakes.

I actually broke one of my golden rules of survival which is the ability to self extract in an emergency. I was in reality almost totaly reliant on a perfect stranger in Jim S. What if Jim had become ill or his equipment failed. I wonder how many others in our group had the gear and knowledge to get off the flats. My bearing would have taken us into the channel and a swim would probably have been required. As it was we were faced with a short deep wade at the end. I am very at home in the water and don't spook too easily about the prospect of a short swim but a swim whilst still surrounded by fog is nuts and likely to end in a fatility. I am not overcooking the dangers Guys. Next time out for me will be with a Guide and my interest will not be focused mainly on the fishing but trying desperataly to understand my envoirament and how to navigate in it in all conditions. It's not all about fish. I am not going to learn what is needed in one trip. Instant experts always get burned.

I really appreciate the comments made by Juro and Jim. I have taken note. Thanks

06-21-2007, 11:39 PM
Good topic. Hope no one minds keeping it going :)

Sometimes the safest passage is away from shore due to compressed current digging out channels next to the island shore. Last year I watched a guy try to go toward shore off the southwest corner of NM and freak out as it got deeper and swam across the channel. You could hear the panic in his breath from 50 yards. I tried to motion to him to cross away from shore but to no avail. He had a lot of expensive camera equipment in a backpack which was not waterproof, probably lost well over $1000.00 that day because he did not know that the sand shoaled high and was quite shallow 200 yards further away from the shoreline which is admittedly very far from the island but offered an easy wade back to the cut thru.

I have not ventured out past the SW trench yet this year but the trench is certainly still there the area nearer the island from the trench is high sand vs. last year. This is not the crib itself but the midway trench reaching west off the southern end of NM. That deep trench often holds fish on a minus tide and the fish don't leave until the flood, fishing in a barrell.

Bayside tide pushes 3 times more water height than the sound / Monomoy. Monomoy is not so much a threat to life as it is a source of anguish, I don't ever recall anyone drowning at Monomoy where the drowning stories on the bayside are commonplace. However people do get trapped out there a lot and swim a lot to reach the secure feeling of terra firma.

Getting adventurous on any flat is easy and safe on an outgoing tide. When there is bait around the fishing is usually just as good on the ebb as Steve points out. The fish don't get into that roaming and eating mood quite the same but they do feed in the current, move around actively and hole up in trenches.

06-22-2007, 01:33 AM
Good topic. Hope no one minds keeping it going :)

Not at all Juro, it serves a good reminder that things can go wrong in a hurry if you are not aware of your surroundings, not only flats fishing but in everyday life. Probably a topic that should be brought up once a year.

I have never fished on Bay side. but I was out looking around at low tide in Dennis one day. Man when the tide goes out you can walk for miles. It is easy to see how one can get caught in all the ditches.

Mike O, I was out on SB Sunday when the fog rolled in. I was wondering if you guys were way out on the flats & you guys were making out. Fortunately the fog burned off rather early in the day or at least it was pretty much cleared up on SB when I left at 1300.

Mike Oliver
06-22-2007, 06:13 AM
Hi Warren,

Yes it was our group you saw way out on the flats. I was with an excellent group of Fishers and some of them managed quite a few fish with Keepers thrown in. Most of the fish were taken at low water fishing in a narrow to begin with channel as there was no water on the flats at all when we arrived at our destination.. We did not see many fish sight fishing on that day but I understand from Jamie that Saturday had a much higher density of fish plying the skinny water.
From memory visibility started to deteriate at first caused by wind blown sand and then fog. There was no panic, hell these Guys knew, well I hope they did. LOL what they were about. We stayed close at Jims suggestion and the fog did get burned off within about 30 minutes. What was significant was previous advice I had been given which was to exit the flats as soon as I saw fog start to roll in and whilst visibilty still enabled sight of land. Well that advice was somewhat flawed and I will be having a lively discussion with the person when I see him next that dispensed such advice. The speed of the approaching fog totally outstripped your ability to reach terra firmer first. We were way out and no way could we have gotten to land before visibility was lost. I always look to worse case sinario in such situations not best.
The flats I found very confusing as a first timer. Truth is and I am ashamed to admit it is that I needed to have done more research and gotten hold of the latest maps. I was an idiot and this time becuase I shamlessly tagged onto a good group all was well. But what if that group had been as ignorant as me regarding the flats geograhy and that fog had not luckily lifted so quickly. Then it would have been freaky in the very least.
I am not scare mongering here, I am into extreeme surf fishing as practiced in Montauk but I was outside my scope as regards competance on NM.
Juro personally I am welcoming an extension of this discussion as hopefully it will help grow my knowledge even if only a little and hopefully will make other new guys think a bit harder before stepping out onto theses beautiful flats for the first time.

Mike O.

06-22-2007, 07:07 AM
Tide wasn't big out there Sunday so we had that going for us. Have to admit I had just a twinge of angst when we were standing around and Jim was casually eating his sandwich. The terrain out there is very flat compared to a few ago when the sand formed lumpy moguls with the larger water exchange. The lumps were great for fishing but tough for walking/wading. The combo of fog and moguls can be very disconcerting.

The sound of the surf crashing on south beach provides some orientation.

Here's my experience out there several years ago:

Monomoy, 7/23?, Lost in the Fog


I think it's the 23rd. Chatham was socked in this morning and the early wind was more easterly than I expected. Fishhawk and several others made the trip over. After castin into the wind and fog for awhile decided to find the crib. Steve from Ketcham made the mistake of following me. Promptly got disoriented and a 5 to 7 minute walk became aan hour or so. Steve, a serious fisherman, was undoubtedly swearing at me under his breath. He suggested we talk to a clammer near by, but, you know about guys and asking for directions. Finally ran into a channel and I figured this must be the east end of the crib (only been there once this year so I really disdn't have the lay of the land. We followed the edge and came upon a woman clamming. she staightend us out and explained we were at the west extreme of Broad creek on the west side (just call me Lewis or Clark. Anyhow we finally found the crib. Caught a few fish Steve had an opp. to try to figure out how to make a number of stripers eat his fly.

Very interesting day. After things cleared I was still disoriented but eventually I was trying to figure out how I got so screwed up. By the way, when I looked for my compass in my pack it wasn't there. I'd used another pack 2 weeks ago for Monomoy and it was in there.
Fred A.

Mike Oliver
06-22-2007, 08:01 AM
Dumb question what is and where is the Crib?

Mike Oliver
06-24-2007, 05:08 PM

It is interersting that todate there are no recorded drownings of Anglers on Monomy as far as you are aware. What concerns me about your post is that some Fishers may become a little complacement if they think that all they have to fear is being spooked and a short swim if they get it wrong. To me the fact that Fishers are getting lost and having to swim out will mean that eventually someone is going to die.

I can't help thinking that someone as far out on the flats as the group I was fishing with and who was totally lost in the fog would not be in serious trouble on a flooding tide especially if a wrong turn was made that took them further towards the advancing tide and away from land.

I would bet that not every Angler out on the flats can swim or swim well. Swimmings fine if you know where you are going to and can swim the distance needed.

As I said until I know what I am doing on the flats I cannot go there unless with a competant Fisher or Guide who is a recognised Monomy Man. In light of just one thought provoking experience to do anything else would be in my mind pure folly. I do stuff in Montauk that most won't so I don't see myself as whimpish but I was outside my personal area of competance. Thats when you are most likely to come to grief.
I believe that as more and more new Fishers learn about the flats that the likely hood of a fatility will no doubt increase. Sad but a predicatable event I fear.

Tight Lines


06-27-2007, 12:25 PM
Two years ago I was on South Beach fishing the flats when the fog rolled in, and fast. Most of the flats on South Beach are nowhere near as big or dangerous as the flats across the way on Monomoy but, when I couldn't see land anymore it certainly got my attention. I wouldn't want to get caught way out on the flats on Monomoy and have the fog come in and then have to guess where I was going...
No one is exaggerating the dangers of fishing there unprepared. Just imagine, the fog rolls in, you have no way of knowing where you are and you hear thunder approaching........