Marvelous at Monomoy
We were fishing these legendary flats just off shore for a chance at the tens of thousands of stripers that cruise through during the changing tides looking for baitfish. Fishing in its purest sense, since this is the ocean and so you never know. It will probably be small and probably a striper, but then again ...
I hooked a decent sized but unexpected bluefish that danced across the water before slicing through the 10-pound test leader and disappearing into the channel. Others caught weakfish. No, nobody saw sharks.
All part of an experience that I have to say measures up to all the over hyped information I'd heard about relating to these flats, which made me suspicious beforehand. Monomoy has been elevated to practically mythical status in books and fishing magazines in recent years, but it turns out it's just a great place to fish, reasonably easy to get to and affordable.
It truly is a sensory overload out there with the surging Atlantic beyond the island, and the cape a far distance in front, as close to pure joy for fly-fishers as I've experienced, short of a green drake hatch on the Delaware or Atlantics on a frenzy on the Miramichi.
Behind us, along the low, sandy dunes of the actual Monomoy Island federal wildlife refuge, various species of gulls by the thousands were either hatching young by the score or creating a new generation of fans for Shea Stadium. Other bird life was thick in every direction. I found myself turning around from time to time, mesmerized by the teeming life on the island, forgetting what I was there for.
The fishing itself is so unlike trout or bass fishing as to inspire a sort of child-like wonder as it reveals itself.
First off, it is physically demanding, even brutal on some days and potentially dangerous. This has its appeal, although you have to remember you could die if you do this wrong, which is rarely a consideration for landlubbers, even those casting for muskies in the fog.
Randy and I caught the daily shuttle out of Outermost Harbor Marina in Chatham at 8 a.m. ($15 round trip, no reservation in advance), and we knew we would be out of touch with all but a handful, those companions who were on the boat with us. On Monomoy, there are no houses. We are far from the mainland and we wouldn't be picked up before 4:30, regardless of the tidal situation or the weather. We literally slipped off the side of the shuttle into three feet of water and the boat roared away and there we were, fending for ourselves.
If ever there was a situation demanding a good guide, this is it, and Randy's up to it and more. You need a
good guide for two reasons, one important and one critical. This is not a place for wide-eyed innocence.
You want to be there with someone experienced with the tricky tides, the violent weather that can and does
erupt without warning. Plus, you simply will not know where to fish otherwise in this confusion of shallow
gin-clear waters, full of cross currents and hidden bars.
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