FLATS ETTIQUETTE - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 06-22-2006, 06:12 AM
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Exclamation FLATS ETTIQUETTE

There has been a growing problem on the Monomoy Refuge with large numbers of uninitiated anglers who many feel some insightful discussion would benefit them and those around them. If we all fish flats with consideration then everyone wins and many anglers is not a big deal. However if we stand 12 across in approach lanes, wade deep onto flats at rising tides to blind cast the water to a froth at dropoffs, or walk in front of or through the area a sight fisher is patiently watching, we ruin it for ourselves and others.

There is plenty of fishing for everyone but the only way it can be pleasant is if those who participate understand and respect other anglers.

Half of this is consideration, and the other half is knowledge from experience.

This thread is intended to communicate some views of highly experienced flats anglers with the hope that the reader might gain understanding which leads to consideration. It is also meant to show that we are also considerate anglers just trying to get people on the same page.

To the forum flats rats, please chime in with that intent in mind.
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  #2  
Old 06-22-2006, 06:35 AM
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I will start...

Wade back and walk behind anglers

If someone is standing on a flat without moving, or moving without so much as creating a wake, it means they are fishing even though they aren't casting.

Ever read about the karate guy who got into a match for an hour and only threw on punch while the other guy threw a flurry of kicks, punches, spinning backfists and who-knows-whats? The one-punch guy won.

Sight fishing is 99% thinking, observing and patience and 1% casting. Hours of boring anticipation interrupted by moments of sheer ecstacy. If you aren't into that, then perhaps you shouldn't be fishing the flats at all (?)

So please know what when someone is just standing there, he/she is actually fishing. And fishing in a very intense way that is susceptible to the surroundings - sight fishing.

If a group wades noisily in front or at them the whole effort to set-up could be dashed. The right thing to do is give them a wide berth so that fish approaching them will not be spooked by your wading.

Now it's impossible to know what that angler is thinking but we are finding that as the crowding increases people stomp their way right across the fishing lanes, or right at us, in front of us, or wade deep and start blind casting.

Imagine a sight fisher to be a hitchhiker standing on a roadway when no cars are coming by. Just because the thumb isn't up at the moment doesn't mean they arent' watching the road for cars, and it doesn't mean they aren't really wanting a ride. Try to imagine the road, and stay off of that as you walk past.

And don't set up hitchhiking right next to them either.
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Old 06-22-2006, 08:49 AM
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If you are travelling to a certain flat - walk along the shoreline and not through the flat itself. Drives me beserk when I see someone doing that, stopping to ask every person on the flat "howz thu fishin?". Duh - it was better before you got here...

Yesterday I watched a couple of guys stomp right through one of the creeks on the flats as I was walking up to fish it. I let them pass before I made my way to the edge of the creek - which was still loaded with (nervous) fish.

Why not just walk around?

Orvis and the mags must still be pumping out the hype because the place seems to get more crowded every year. Too bad the flats have not been living up to the hype so far this season.
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Old 06-22-2006, 11:25 AM
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Actually a "tough" season might just help take the pressure off - once word gets around that "Monomoy just isn't the place it used to be" - people might go elsewhere - like New Jersey

Seriously though, this season I'm really glad I own a kayak. Based on what I've seen so far I'll be using it a lot more than last year and giving Chatham a wide berth when sight fishing conditions look promissing.
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Old 06-22-2006, 11:38 AM
JimW JimW is offline
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I suggest a trifold handout distributed on the Rip Ryder and especially on the Outermost ferries. You're probably preaching to the choir here.
Marketing is everything though so title it 'how to fish the flats' or somthing a bit catchy. Section I - Flat's etiquete. Keep it to short phrases to get your point across if you want to to be absorbed at all, nevermind on the short ride to the dropoff. Pictures might even be better
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Old 06-22-2006, 11:44 AM
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I am surprised that more people have not chimed in especially since I have heard a lot of complaints offline.

Here is another:

If a person or small team (2-3 friends, guide and clients etc) are working in a certain direction - watching intently in the water, walking without creating any wake... then don't run ahead of them to cut them off. If you really want to fish the same road (see above metaphor) then follow behind them or walk well past them along the shore and set up in another 'neighborhood' all your own.

If the intent is not to sight fish, then there's no reason to fish the flats. You don't go sight fishing because you're going to catch a lot of fish, you go there because you love sight fishing.

You can catch a lot more blind casting into ther depths and there is nothing more useless than blind fishing on a flat. If you come to the flats, be considerate that people are practicing sight fishing, and be respectful of them as they will respect you. Sight fishing is a fragile situation easily shattered by unknowing anglers, yet it can be shared by many who understand it.

You can tell immediately who gets it and who doesn't, they stand out like a sore thumb.
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Old 06-22-2006, 12:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juro
I am surprised that more people have not chimed in especially since I have heard a lot of complaints offline.
I don't think that I do enough sight fishing to give any practical advice here, but what I've read definitely reinforces what I've learned and what I practice.

Thanks for the input so far.
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Old 06-22-2006, 01:15 PM
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Another classic criticism, and something I see all the time...

On those bluebird sight fishing days, please don't wade up to your chest at the edges of the flats and blind cast into the channel, you spook fish off the flats...
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Old 06-22-2006, 01:16 PM
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Maybe the solution here is to search out other areas to flats fish. How many of us travel past viable flats to get to Chatham? It seems to be the only place talked about on this forum and others so its no wonder its crowded. Now please understand I am not advocating putting together a list of other areas. I think that should be left up to the angler to figure out and its not that hard with the tools available to us today. Some are smaller, some large but there are flats all over the place. Trying to tell others how to fish seems like a loosing proposition to me. In the end none of us own the water we fish and have the right to say how it should be done. Now before someone calls me on it I will admit I have done it in the past and in the heat of the moment will probably do it again. But I am starting to learn that I will enjoy my time on the water more if I just take a step back, relax and remember its just fishing.

Sean
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Old 06-22-2006, 02:20 PM
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Sean -

As always you do make some salient points. However futile it might seem to try to affect positive change, one has to try. Especially with so much disgruntal discussion offline I felt bringing it on line was necessary.

Food for thought -

If our discussions create crowding, can't they create order as well? Even if it's a break-even proposition it's better than falling behind.

Doesn't flats fishing deserve as much attention to courtesy as hunting, salmon fishing of pools, or run and gun for blitzing fall fish? If not then there's no point in those discusssions either despite being very active topics. Frankly I think they've had a positive impact.

I think a perception that it's preaching to the choir might be a little unrealistic - although the striped bass chat does seem localized to a group with a higher average experience level on Flytalk there are 26,000 unique visitors here per month and from a much broader regional / international span than most sites draw.

.02
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Old 06-22-2006, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juro
Sean -
Doesn't flats fishing deserve as much attention to courtesy as.... (snip)....run and gun for blitzing fall fish?
I didn't think that courtesy and run and gun could be used in the same sentence.
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Old 06-22-2006, 06:10 PM
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Good discussion. It can only help, even if some people don't get the message. I've been guilty of fishing too deep and standing/walking in lanes because I didn't know any better. Probably still do it since I'm not as familiar with the flats as some of you. If you see me standing someplace where I'm spooking fish off the flats, please tell me and show me a better place to set up.

Here's a question: What is a reasonable distance to keep between yourself and someone else who is fishing the flats? I know it depends on the circumstances, and in most cases it's probably more important to consider where you walk/fish than how far away you are from the other fishermen, but what would you guys suggest as a general guideline? For example, if you cross behind someone who is fishing, how far past him/her should you go before moving back out to fish? How much extra space should you give if he/she is moving the same direction as you (i.e., you are jumping ahead of them)?

Q
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  #13  
Old 06-22-2006, 07:39 PM
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Great discussion Juro....thanks for starting it....great input from all..I particularly like the idea of a handout on flats fishing.
The area has certainly received pressure this year, but I agree with Juro and others...it is not the #'s, it's lack of knowledge by those who may be new to flats fishing.
I would like to think that those who ruin spots for others simply don't know that they are ruining it for others and themselves as well. I would guess that to the uninitiated, seeing someone catch a fish must mean that that's the only place where fish are......joining in puts the end to it for everyone. What I've learned in my 5 yrs fishing the flats at SB is that there are fish on all of them...one has to stand still and just watch...they will come. For example...last week I was planning to go to a certain area.....about 100 yds before I got there I saw at least a dozen people in a conga line already there....so I stayed where I was and in the next 2 hrs, caught 14 fish...all sighted. Simply said, the conga line drove the fish to me....I saw no bent rods where I had planned to go initially.
The week before I was alone on a flat, caught one fish and within 5 minutes had 7 guys around me, 2 no more than 40 ft away, one of whom went waist deep to get them first I guess......result....dead flat, I left in 10 minutes and in about another 10 minutes so did everyone else. Hello??!!!!!
Re distance in my opinion for those who desire to illustrate flats ettique and be more successful themselves, is about 150 to 200 feet......this distance creates lanes, allows for a more than full retrieve if fishing in current and in the fishes' eyes, does not create a barrier on the flats.
Never stand in a crease or hole between flats....that's the fishes reference highway. It's called structure. We all like structure don't we???
Never go waist deep...I used to do that and then I finally noticed that they were behind me :-)
If you don't believe me...next time you see a conga line waist deep on a flat......go 200 ft left or right of them and stay ankle deep at most.....watch the fish come to your feet behind them...they want to eat....the seals are at the drop off, the conga line is in the middle...they have to go somewhere. Create a lane!!!!
Lastly.....on a sad note (hopefully until others read and learn from the above posts), this year I have been very reluctant to invite a stanger over when I'm on fish (as I have always done and that has been done for me as well)...the 2 times I did it this year...it seemed that 2 guys standing together meant hot spot!!!!! and within minutes we were surrounded and fish sent scurrying to God knows where.
I would really like to again to extend the "call over"courtesy that was given to me when I started and as friendships developed over time. It was always the best part of fishing.
Ron
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Old 06-22-2006, 08:52 PM
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Ron- a most enlightening, informative, and well-articulated post. Should be required reading for all those heading for the flats.
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Old 06-22-2006, 09:00 PM
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Thank you Flydoc and especially, thank you for reading it in the spirit in which it was intended....education, sportsmanship and friendship.
Ron
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