flats question(s) [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: flats question(s)

Bob Pink
06-26-2001, 07:59 PM
Had the opportunity today to fish one of the bayside flats. Bait was a consistant presentation of 2" sandeels. Fish working pretty consistantly on the morning dropping tide and were willign to take larger flies and sluggos ( yes ssully! )
Once the tide changed we were drifting over VERY large schools of fish but could not get them to hit anything. Small-large, white -dark, deep or surface. Needless to say it got a little frustrating.
Water conditions were almost glassy-smooth. Bright sun. Water depths from 4 - 10'
Any observations from the experienced 'flats' crowd that I might learn from?

06-26-2001, 10:29 PM
I have something to say... I WANNA GO!!! ;-)

I assume you are talking about the turn at 10am-ish, and we also saw great hordes of bass in a similar situation very recently - high sun, similar timing (although two hours more into mid-day) and I was able to hook fish the whole time by sight and I think I know why. I could be totally up my own butt but let me take a shot at it...

The fish were going west to east, with the exception of those seen grubbing like tadpoles in no particular vector. I didn't catch todays wind but I would guess S/SW. You were drifting diagonally from shoals to the 'blue line' or dropoff. No wait you have an electric motor so you were holding over the intermediate flat (step-down flat) that the majority were traveling over.

They were in water that was too deep for Monomoy style presentations - meaning intermediate line, panic retrieve (unless you found the blondies on top of the lightest, highest shoals past mid-flood) You used the panic (fleeing bait) retrieve and got no reaction from fish passing under the fly and line.

You tried sinking line but the lead fish in the pod would flee from the dark line as it sank or a fleeing retrieve still elicited no chase, no pursuit and thus no strike (with an occasional exception - probably a schoolie from a pack of cows).

Does any of this match the situation or am I all wet?

06-27-2001, 04:19 AM
Bob, try a shrimp pattern and see if that works. Popovick Tan or Olive*might dothe trick. They also might be on Isopods which is a scud like pattern. Tie it*very small.
Flats fishing is the midge fishing of saltwater flyfishing any fish you get is well deserved.FishHawk

06-27-2001, 06:18 AM
Bob, I think that FishHawk is on to it. This time of the year, in the early 50"s, fishing with Al Brewster in Warren RI found that the bass were on shrimp, and would touch nothing else. This condition lasted about a month.
Two years ago, while fishing the flats of Quonochotaug Pond in Charlestown RI, from a canoe, I found the same condition. The bass were there, but hard to catch. I was standing, and poling the canoe watching schools of fish working the edge of channel, while trying to sneak up on a school, I dropped the anchor while travelling to fast. The results were that I fell in the canoe, causing the bow to go under, filling the canoe with water. While bailing out the canoe, I couldn't believe the number of schrimp that were in the bottom of the canoe. The fish again were feeding on shrimp. Any good shrimp pattern, WORKS.

06-27-2001, 07:13 AM
FishHawk , I will look foeward to seeing you Pop Shrimp. I have been tying those as well and will be using them during July on the Monomoy flats. Take a look at Erico's as well..very similar

06-27-2001, 07:14 AM
Art...As I recall, that particular method of collecting bait samples was never covered in any of the how-to books I've read...I think you might be on to something!

Bob...When bass focus in on shrimp, they will pass on most other offerings...last year I found small olive and/or tan grass shrimp on a #4 or #6 hook to be quite effective.

See you on the flatzzz!

Another great technique is to fish with Juro, take good notes, and do what ever he does! You WILL catch fish!

06-27-2001, 09:00 AM

I agree that trying a shrimp fly is a good idea.

Also, Terry & I had a similar experience two weeks ago while drifting the Flats off Joppa. Later in morning the fish got much more selective, but for some reason they would still hit a sparse Ray's fly (#1) on a clear intermediate!

06-27-2001, 09:08 AM
Correction on the above, the fish were primarily traveling east to west. The boat I was on was traveling west to east. We drifted for miles seeing pods approaching.

Because we would often get 'jammed' by fish coming right at us, the technique required the ability to spot the pod way in advance and 'set up' the fly in a particular strike zone similar to sight fishing steelhead that are not really interested in chasing anything.

So if we saw a pod at 11 o'clock, I would cast to 8 o'clock and throw a big mend as the boat drifted forward at the approaching school. Even still if the line had not gone beneath their column the first few would scurry off to the sides but I would leave it on it's approach and twitch it as more followed suit and watch the trailing fish pick up the fly with a flash.

Pods were also to the sides, especially the shallow side, where they could be seen 'grubbing' erratically in no particular direction. These fish were gimme's, almost guaranteed to hit the fly if it was in their down-turned attention span.

The majority were in deeper water, avg 5-6ft in our case. There was no chase in them in an upward vector, period. This made it tough. The first few of the pod would veer away if they saw the descent of the fly, in particular the dark sinking head. Intermediate lines would work but only if you had a set-up distance long enough to get it beneath the fish. This was not practical so I settled for turning off the leading fish of the pod to pick up the middle and trailing fish, which would greedily gobble up the deep eel if it was beneath their column of travel.

Lances tied with subtle colors worked best. These had no angel hair, traces of chartreuse, and rootbeer-pearl flashabou blended underneath the ultrahair.

Occasionally you would be able to set the cast so that the lead fish would only see the fly below them and take it. With some wind riffle on the water that was the exception rather than the norm. I was able to target and land some lone singles when our position and the fish's approach allowed it. Multiple legals up to 33" but most were 24"-28", I only recall a couple of smaller fish. In the bright sunshine of mid-day, can't beat it. Only one was not sighted.

We spotted some submarines during the course of the day. I lost a couple that were deep in my backing. We fished about 3-4 hours total. We called it a day when you could no longer spot them easily, although you could blind cast for them in various locations closer to shore late in the flood.

Bob, I am not saying I could even catch a micro in the conditions you had but only mean to convey that we had a banner day by ensuring that the visual contact point between the fish and the fly was always in their downward cone of vision. All other presentations did not produce.

Great topic!

06-27-2001, 09:13 AM
Bob- I ran into those exact same conditions last week while out on the Brewster Flats. Unfortunately I don't have an answer to your riddle but can tell you were not alone in being frustrated by these schools of working fish. I saw a lot of popping, slurping and boils and had a lot of follows but no takers. These fish were mostly in the deeper waters past the drop off and working up and down along the drop off. A shrimp fly is definetely worth a shot I was just convinced they had to be on sand eels for obvious reasons (they are everywhere). I might have tried a shrimp fly had I stuck with them long enough but opted to move to the flooding flats where I know I had a better chance of hooking up (and did).

06-27-2001, 09:40 AM
Go gettum Bob!!


Tod D
06-27-2001, 09:55 AM
Terry - nice shrimp. Can you post the recipe?

06-27-2001, 09:59 AM
I disagree, the problem was not shrimp but presentation - and I insist that Jeff, Bob or both give me the chance to prove it!

I'll see you at the dock at 5am on.... }>

06-27-2001, 10:26 AM
Recipe as requested:

Peel and devein 12 Jumbo Shrimp. Peel and chop (fine)4 cloves of Garlic. Heat saute pan and coat bottom with a fine olive oil...oops wrong world.

Try this:
hook: size 2
thread: white 3/0
Body: Long polar fibre and flashabou wrapped on shank
Legs: Light grey polar fibre, a few strands red crystal
Eyes: 80 lb. mono, melted beed (cool)
top shell: plastic straw piece
tail: same polar fibre, grey bucktail, cyrstal flash


06-27-2001, 10:31 AM
Juro- I don't doubt that with proper presentation that these fish could have been caught, as I said I was getting follows. And anytime you want to show me how its done.......
By the way this coming Tuesday morning tide looks good 5am would work just fine, No kidding.

06-27-2001, 10:40 AM
Jeff -

I was being rhetorical to get onto a boat }>

Besides, I'd hate to have to live up to that! All that being said, Tuesday 5am would be pretty darn good timing in all respects except the sun would not be very high yet. The morning calm may make up for the low angle sun.

I have an appointment in the early afternoon but if you are serious I'd love to do a few hours in the morning - and I've got breakfast at the Marshside and some gas money covered.

West or east lot?

06-27-2001, 11:17 AM
East Lot is usually where I put in as I have no experience with the West lot and I am coming from 124 usually. Let me check with the 'boss' before I get you too excited but can't see any reason why not at this time. Time wise I can't last all day (usually) any way I just get too cooked by the sun so a few hours works well for me. My boat is not huge but works well for two and there is always wet wading in the early tide stages.

06-27-2001, 12:24 PM
Hmmm ... Obvious CC Bay flat rookies! The sharpies all have breakfast at Grumpy's. Best breakfast on CC!

Some guys swear by going small others continue to feed them medium sized while others go large. When you walk around those flats and kick up sandeels, some are of rather large proportions. If you take a peek at the sandeels the bait fishermen rake out there ... they are large.

So even if tiny sandeels are present I like to go large and deep. It takes some doing at times but usually you can get them to take. Sometimes the cool water flushing into the flats on the rise triggers the bite. I've seen guys using raked sandeels as a trailer on a Hopkins lure take fish on every cast while us FFermen looked at each other with dismay. Maybe if you rubbed a real sandeel real hard all over your fly ...
I never kept one for an autopsy ... but crabs are pretty plentiful out there. SOmetimes they are downright aggressive and will strike your fly. A crab pattern might be the ticket under these circumstances.

06-27-2001, 02:50 PM
Yeah, Mike I am not afraid to admit I am a Cape Cod Bay rookie. So where is Grumpy's? Or is that on a need to know basis :-).

06-27-2001, 03:11 PM
Hi Mike -

You got my curiosity too... fishing changes all the time but a good breakfast is a sure thing. Is it closer to the east end of the flats perhaps?

Marshside is right next to Sesuit Creek Outfitters on the way to Sesuit Neck Rd in East Dennis.

Not as good as Clancy's brunch but I've eaten there in my waders and so they're OK by me!

Tod D
06-27-2001, 03:22 PM
Terry - Thanks for the recipe - oh, and the fly pattern too!

06-27-2001, 03:24 PM
Forgot to mention it - Terry, awesome image and recipe. I need some shrimp for my box, the eels are taking over! ;)

06-27-2001, 04:09 PM
I was in Grumpy's Sunday. Had the heartattack omelet with the crunchy, greasy homefries. Great stuff. Though efficient, the guy waiting on us had an attitude befitting the name of the place. Marsh Side is full of "make your skin crawl" yuppies and dot. comr's (just kidding). I take my wife there once in awhile... have the lobster and brie eggs benidict. As a nuts and bolts engineer, Grumpy's and the Red Cottage are more my style.

Fred A.

06-27-2001, 04:44 PM
Now Fred, if you're including the other side of the cape, you know I LOVE THE RED COTTAGE! We've been there "a few times". It's just that I can never find the place on the first try when people are following me there, as Bigcat will attest. ;)

Yuppies taking over the Marshside? Maybe they were just avoiding me because of my gore-tex waders and scuba booties. All I remember is smiling waitresses bending over backwards for us (figuratively that is).

So where is Grumpy's I gotta know...

BTW - Bonatts Bakery is open 7 days for breakfast now.

Bob Pink
06-27-2001, 05:34 PM
Did this thread ever take off, I appreciate all the info. Here's what I can add;

No doubt my #1 weakness is understanding 'presentation'. I have enought trouble figuring out the variations of a retrieve never mind setting up a swing and mend. But, that being said many of these situations had fish that were not oriented into one feeding 'lane'. They were milling around in a general area. perhaps the issue was that no bait could ever have managed to get that far into a pod of fish that size without already being eaten ;) If I could have ever found the edges of the pod would I also have found the activily feeding fish?

Certainly later on when the fish were in much shallower waters they were oriented to one direction as they came up onto the flats. I think my problem there was still one of size ( no wisecracks ) since I was fishing a fly that I think of as small, a #1 clouser and since then others have indicated a #6 might have been a better bet! In that skinny water I was trying to get the fly down well ahead of the lead dog and then give it a twitch or two as they came near.

MikeF, that's in interesting idea. I went large trying to differentiate the fly from all the small baits but I kept it in the upper part of the water. Makes me wonder now what would have happened with the same larger pattern presented below those fish???

Given that this year was going to be one of begining to think about and hopefully learn 'presentation', this type of situation looks like a great place to start.....

Lot's to keep thinking about and hopefully experiment on in the water.....

06-27-2001, 07:34 PM
Best thing about fishing is that you never run out of new things to learn, hopefully for life!

BTW - I was fishing deep eels in the 6" class. No aversion to the large flies that I could detect, just a matter of getting it to look good where they were looking downward.

A few weeks prior on Monomoy the panic retrieve (darting away from the fish) was by far the most effective using flies that push a lot of water as you strip - like the mummichog pattern we discussed (same time frame ironically).

A week or two before that in a rip current you had to strip it with such a jolt that if you hit the stripping basket your hand would ache.

Other days anything on the surface was automatic.

Frankly I love the variety stripers present, if it were a same-strip all the time show it could get a little boring.

BTW - thanks for showing me that rip presentation at Middle Ground that day, I've benefited a lot from that ever since.

06-27-2001, 08:26 PM
I've eaten at Grumpy's too. It is a great breakfast-I have to say it beats the Red Cottage (which I never find the 1st time either). To GRumpys: Rte 134 North toward Dennis. At 6A go right towards brewster and it's up on the left (bayside). I never find that 1st time either.

Bob: Rays Flies? They solved my problem of picky Joppa scoolies (thanx Grego).


06-28-2001, 05:56 AM
Grumpy's is located on Rt 6A a couple of hundred yards west of the Rt 134 intersection. Get there early or expect to wait in line ... ya its worth the wait!
When you go to Marshside you are right down the road from Grumpy's.

06-28-2001, 06:55 AM
Thanks Terry, Mike - well if it's that close I have no excuses. Then there's the best lunch discussion.... ;)

06-28-2001, 07:41 AM
Lunch?...Flyrod $250+ , Waders $150+ , Rip trip $30 , Sandwiches from OldDoogue --Priceless.

06-28-2001, 08:01 AM

06-28-2001, 06:08 PM
Ref. priceless; thanks for the comments. Just the easiest way I know to repay all the time and effort put in by others to make these trips so enjoyable. The only draw back is not being able to spend time with some of the other members due to Rip Ryder only taking 10 members.I would signup for the saturday trip to spend time with Pete, Adrian, and Jeff but can't pull it off. It just makes me appreciate the time we spent together at the Spring Clave even more.