2007 Observations [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: 2007 Observations

07-01-2007, 07:02 PM
Well..., made it back to NC last night, another "Cape spring striper season" in bag. I was wondering if others saw some of the same things this year that me and a few of my buddies saw.
1-Morris Island warmed up faster than normal, for both for fishing and water temperature, in the early season. Both numbers and size of fish seemed higher in the normal places. Those same water temperatures have slowed the fishing down, lately.
2-The ocean side of South Beach, fished better than normal and my old theory of "the ocean side fishes best-90 minutes before and after the high tide", was shot to hell. The ocean fished well, whenever the fish were there, which happened alot this year (regardless of tide).
3-There were lots of fish on the flats lately- but it seems to be 5x harder to catch them on a dropping tide versus a rising tide. It seemed that casts that were on their nose-spooked 'em and if a cast was put 5' in front of them, it stayed in front of them as they tended to be heading the same direction as the current on dropping tides. I think those that are staying for this coming week will have perfect incoming tides for the flats.
4-I found myself having better luck with darker patterns than in the past. I also gained alot of confidence in Rays Fly and the Bonderoo Bucktail, especially when fishing over weed beds.
5- Depth of line is more important than choice of fly (within reason)
6- The SpringClave gets better each year and I really enjoy seeing my old friends.
7-I can't wait to see what the Fall brings and I may catch up with a few of you, sometime this summer.
Tight lines-

07-02-2007, 07:09 AM
Regarding the flats fishing they did seem a lot more skittish than I am used to them being. I also noticed that they were less widespread than before; previously I would run into singles or small groups of fish pretty much anywhere, this year the spots they would appear seemed to be much more localised.

Flies which worked for me, or I at least had confidence in; were a skinny olive and white clouser, with hardly any flash and about 4" long, and a 2" long flats fodder variant.

I found with a clear intermediate tip I got a lot of follows with a high ratio of refusals. With a coloured type 3 tip, the refusal ratio dropped substantially. But I was fishing a 14' leader, stepped down to 12lbs.

Generally a lot more blues around this year and the average size of striper seemed to be up.

Interesting comparing notes.

07-02-2007, 10:12 AM
Dennis, good observations. Jamie makes a good point regarding the flats. Get the fly on the bottom, same level as the fish. In knee deep water an intermediate line is fine. Thigh deep, go to a type 3 line with a long leader. As the season progressed and targeting singles and doubles, here are a couple of additional observations following seven weeks primarily on the flats daily, weather permitting:

1. Better fish this year, but more often than not, they were not happy or in the mood to eat. Coming tide worked best. Outgoing, most fish were in a rush to get off the flats.
2. Lots of bait this year, primarily schools of sand eels, but also baby bunker in some locations.
3. If fish are not on one flat, move. Craig (CSJ60) and Ken (KMcFly) are masters at finding fish because they look for the right structure and cover a lot of ground.
4. As the season progressed (mid-May - end of June), presentation and type of fly became more important. Schools of fresh fish are easy because of their competitive nature. Singles and doubles that take up residence on the flats, become educated, and if it is not the right presentation, forget it. Because they are opportunist, the type of fly is secondary to presentation. Right Juro?
5. With crustacean patterns, dead drift presentations can be deadly. Smaller is also better as the season progresses. If "go to" flies aren"t working, mix it up.

You will earn your stripes if you consistenly hookup on the flats in July and early August. Your best friend during that time is your observational skills.

07-02-2007, 06:27 PM
Agreed that seeing the fish is key to catching them. It sounds simple but it's a fact. The fish are a lot bigger this year than last year.
What has worked for me this year is a new shrimp pattern that I'm working on . The fish jumped all over it. Needs a little more tweaking. July and Aug. will tell how good a pattern it really is. FishHawk.

07-02-2007, 07:55 PM
Hey Bill, Jamie,Jimbo,
I did learn the type 3 sink line trick from Jim this year.
I enjoyed the time on the water with my British buds and Bill, et al.
Really, my highlights for this year were the time on the water with the buddies, Dan and Jeff, seeing (and landing) the 43"er Craig got and seeing my girlfriends' 12 year old twins land some fish-with Art and Jim's assistance. Also, watching the expression on the 12 year old faces when the N. Monomoy buck decided to "hit the water" 10' from them and swim to South Beach. They did not know what to do when Ed and Keith ribbed them about "there ain't no deer there"...,
Good spring.

07-02-2007, 08:50 PM
Thigh deep, go to a type 3 line with a long leader.

Just ordered mine today from the Bear's Den- Rio Outbound in 9 wt- can't wait to try it out on the flatz:lildevl:

07-03-2007, 01:54 AM
Juro's rules of the flats (in order of importance):

1) presence of fish
2) mood of fish
3) presentation
4) fly

in that order, but they all matter!

In other words no one home and there is zero chance. when they are in the mood you cant do wrong, if they aint in the mood you cant do much right.

There are NOT many presentations you can make to hook up but there are 6-12 flies from your box that work if said presentation is right.

And yes, train the brain to process the fewest photons your eyes can collect out there or you will never know how many there are right in front of you.

It's a challenging yet rewarding game and we are lucky to have the northern flats scene within our easy reach.

07-03-2007, 02:52 AM
Yep, aped the Simmster for the type 3, from noting what he was using a few seasons back. Also it was starting to make sense for some of the UK fishing.

07-03-2007, 02:29 PM
I wish I'd had a type 3 for my trip. I was deffo missing something out on those flats. What we need now is a clear version of it!

I also noted that most of my flies were too big or bulky when the fish became real choosy, which was most of the time unfortunately.

Always looking. Always learning.

07-03-2007, 02:46 PM
I've contacted several linemakers about this years ago, they claim it cant be done. So I suggested sand colored camo and they said tungsten is essentially black. Not sure I totally agree but I am not the expert and some of the top names said no.

Oh well, standing in the right spot and making head on shots works just as well, and for other conditions (unlike the crib) a clear intermediate is just fine. Some spots at the right tide a floater is great as well.

Sean Juan
07-03-2007, 03:37 PM
My general 2007 observation is that the average fish is bigger and stronger than in recent years.

Sure there are some exceptions but I'm willing to say that I've caught more keeper sized bass in 2007 than I did in 2005 or 2006 - combined - when I seriously started fishing for them...

Its possible that I've gotten more experience but I think the bait situation is much better than it has been.

07-04-2007, 12:02 PM
There does seem to be a lot more fish putting themselves on the reel, in the 26 to 32" range, than the past several years. The line thing, in bright mid day sun, has been bugging me for several years. Even a clear intermediate casts quite a shadow and without a perfect cast in front of an oncoming fish it's tough not to spook 'em. Last week, using a floater in 20+ mph wind I got really frustrated. Next day I threw on a 300 grain QD and had an easy time of it, in 1 to 3 feet of water. The QD gets down and sticks to the bottom.

07-04-2007, 12:07 PM
When the sand eels are buried I always play the scratch game. It works.

07-04-2007, 02:25 PM
A foot or two of LC13 works wonders on a floating line for bottom scratching - long leaders recommended - Fluoro preferred 'cos it sinks like a brick' :D

I also noticed that the flash of a light colored line is detected way earlier by cruising fish than I would imagine, even when the water is heavilly rippled by a stiff breeze.

Mike Oliver
07-05-2007, 05:37 AM
Now I don't have previous years experinece to go by. But you can start learning from day one. The advice I was given was to get a clear intermediate full sink or a 15 foot Ghost tip. I did and struggled in both the channels and on the flats in water even just knee deep compared to the Guys who I noticed had sinking lines. Very obvious by the colour. I guessed that they would be D3 's and from this thread my guess was right. I only got in two shots and both times, even though my flies were small and not over flashy the fish refused them after initially charging them down. I found it surprising just how long it takes for a small Clouser with say 5/32 heads to sink through just knee deep water in the current. Way to long I think. Three days before On Brewsters Flats my two friends both caught Keepers in a very shallow narrow channel that was draining into the main one by making sure that their Clouser was fishing on the sand. They used very short and gentle strips which caused their flies to gently flutter over the sand bottom. They were using the same flies as me. In tied em so I know..
Now personally as a brand new, newbie I did not find this frustrating just facinating and a whole new world of puzzles to figure that previously have been totally outside my experience.
My mind is spinning with regard to the flies I am tying with particular emphasis on length, amount of dressing and flash plus the size of those eyes on the Clousers. I reckon that Juro's list is bang on. But if the fish are there and are in a mood to eat we still have got to get first of all the presentation right and then the fly.
Right now now I am very interested with the D3 line. I reckon it's better to have your line on the bottom in very shallow water. It must be far less visible to a fish and it throws no shadows once on the bottom. It's going to get your fly into the hit zone quicker to. Another plus point it is much easier to cast accuractaly than these clear lines which are not easy to see in the air. By the way my brand new 9wt Cortland Precision Clear Intermediate was the worst line I have ever purchased. It grated over my rod guides something awful dry or wet.. The bin will be it's destiny shortly. The Flats are an incredible challange and I envy you Guys who can target them for all the season and so get to have to try and work them out constantly as the season evolves. Roll on retirement or getting lucky on the lottery.


Sean Juan
07-05-2007, 07:35 AM
I'd have to say I very rarely use anything that isn't a quick sink these days. If you need to be off the bottom (which is rare in my view) lengthing the leader is sometimes all that is required.

07-05-2007, 07:47 AM
There are lots of variations in the flats environment - not all of them nice clean sand.

Some of my most memorable days have been fishing neglected backwaters over eel grass at low tide with a floating line and small shrimp pattern - GP is deadly. First glance at the water would suggest the area was "dead" - no discernable current and a dusty film spread across the glassy surface. I thought so too until I spooked a bunch of huge stripers whilst paddling through the area (to get somewhere else) a couple of summers back. If I recall, it was August and the water temp was pushing 75F!

07-05-2007, 07:54 AM
Hi Mike,

I don’t dismiss the line being a factor but must say it gets to much credit or blame for the success or lack of success one has on the flats. More than anything, finding a good ambush location on the flats where you don’t have to force the presentation is significantly more important than the line. Especially when casting to a single fish. The number of takes goes up, so the line is not the problem. I use full sinking line on the flats and do okay. I prefer it when fishing a crab.

Sean Juan
07-05-2007, 11:16 AM
Adrian raises an important point that I've noticed lately too.

I don't think water temperature effects stripers nearly as much as I perviously thought.

I think temperature impacts the smaller baitfish, and changes in their activity effect the bass. Probably 6 of one 1/2 doz of the other, but I think that the new hatham layout the tub with become too warm for baitfish which will dramatically increase the shrimp populations which could make it a big bass haven after all.

Kayaks at dark anyone?

Mike Oliver
07-05-2007, 03:02 PM

You may well be right. As a very new Fisher to the flats I come with an open mind and am looking at all the angles I can. Some I won't even know about of course as I am so new. But I fish hard and delve deep. I don't do relaxed and I don't do easy I guess. For me that's part of the fun. Who want's it easy.


07-05-2007, 04:30 PM
I don't do relaxed and I don't do easy I guess. For me that's part of the fun. Who want's it easy.


Mike you bring up a good point, if it was easy the flats would look like a jetty scene full of sluggo fisherman.
The thing about saltwater fly fishing is just that; it is a challenge most days. Wind blowing from the wrong direction, or at 30 Knots. Fussy fish, long tiring "Death Marches", balled up running line, hook stuck in ear:mad: .....You name it.

Now Craig, Juro and Sean McDermott & his Tuna fishing success make it look easy, But I am sure they had many frustrations when they first started, Time on the water, paying attention to what is going on around you and the help you receive from others is what makes things mesh.
I am but a rank beginner as well and lean some more every time I go out. That is where the fun is for me. Keeps the brain active.

Excellent Thread going here gents

07-05-2007, 08:53 PM
One of the ways to look at sightfishing on the flats is to equate it to deer hunting. Consistently successful hunters do a lot of homework before the actual hunt. They find through networking, experience, yes the internet, and other sources where the more abundant or trophy populations are located. Once the area is located, experienced hunters will spend a lot of hours in the locale identifying habitat, trails and pinch points to setup during hunting season. Success is a function of homework, experience, being observant, focus, passion, energy and clocktime in the woods. It is part art and science, but luck does play a role.

07-06-2007, 02:16 AM
I'm finding the Di-3 line thing very interesting as when I last came over to fish the flats in June & September '05', it was clear intermediates all the way - they worked & worked well.
This year things have moved on and I was definitely at a dis-advantage by not having one of these with me. Jamie actually bought one while out there, which I should have done really but there you go. The Di-3 was particularly handy in the surf also... I wonder what next years edge will be?

07-06-2007, 01:31 PM
Steve, I wouldn't sweat on it. Me, Craig & Jim set up on a nice ambush point the other week and i had a 350g line in waist deep water.

we saw a steady procession of fish of all sizes for over an hour and i tried crabs, eels, shrimp, everything and i still couldn't buy a fish.

I believe Juro when he says 'mood of the fish' is higher on the list.


07-07-2007, 07:17 PM
Kayaks at dark is a good strategy this time of year. Night time is hot any time of the season but once you get into late July & August it takes on a whole new dimension.

"Dog days?".... "What dog days?" :smokin: