Cape Cod Flats Stripers

Discussion in 'Shore Bound' started by macawbird, Jun 12, 2017.

  1. macawbird

    macawbird Well-Known Member YakPack

    Just wanted to write a little bit about an amazing fishery that many have yet to experience.

    Me and Jack decided to forgo paddling around out of sheer laziness.

    Our game day decisions on where to go and what to fish for just kind of materialized at 10pm before turning out the lights Friday night.

    Reports of large fish and lots of them were flooding in on social media, magazines, texts, emails and phone calls, so regardless of me trying to get to the business end of things as a result of me becoming a full time artist, (and as a result I don't think I ever truly stop working...although I love it) we said DAY OFF TIME!!!!

    Now, freshwater is always an option, but we are looking at a week of major mayfly hatches going on here at home which results in fish that have fed until puking on white, green, and brown flying fish snacks.
    SO this was an immediate no.

    Then we remembered that we haven't aggravated ourselves by watching fish on the flats in a long time...the weather and tides (or schedules) haven't lined up for us in many years...that's like two years too many.

    For those of you curious about this amazing style and kind of fishing here's some teasers for you.

    We packed up the mini and headed down to our favorite flat early in the morning.

    Not too early but early..high tide was at two and the sun had just started to hit the water and light it up. This is important to watch for fish that are traveling on the flats.
    How deep? like not deep....like ankle deep...
    how far out? like almost on the sand...its more important to figure out if you have enough room to back cast more than how far out you wade.
    We use long leaders, that are tapered to 15lb test...probably 9-12 ft or so. I throw a ten weight rod, jack a nine...
    nothing fancy mind you, we tie the leaders ourselves...much easier to blame your knot tying skills on someone than a manufacturer...or each other.

    I walk to an area that has a nice sand bar underwater, edged in darker blue green, its deeper there, and there should be something hanging on that edge I figure, waiting for a silverside school to be swept over into waiting mouths. The silversides were huge, almost 7inches long and an inch thick, I know this because I sorrowfully snag one on a fly through its stomach....seagulls thank me.

    The surface is dimpled with current and a light breeze, the current starts to rip water, and I false cast extending the line out far as I can before letting the cast shoot forward where the dark water is...the line sinks, and I strip line in hand, over hand, waiting for resistance. Nothing. cast....nothing.
    so I wait, and watch...and cast...man its beautiful here.
    Jack comes and hands me a cracker to munch on, as we didn't stop for breakfast. What a beautiful day.
    Jack decides to try the bar I am on, so I wander down the beach a bit, just figuring its too early...when suddenly my eye catches movement, against the current...there's one, no two, no three!!! Good mid 20"
    striper in a very determined track....right at Jack!

    They slip by him, he saw them, bigger than I estimated he suggests keepers at least...totally ignoring his fly...kept traveling. Ugh...

    I wander to the flats. the real flat... the only about a foot deep in some spots sandy light green looks like Florida beautiful clear flat.

    wade out about 100 feet....then a little further....stop... watch....wait.

    I turn to watch the dark navy channel right next to the flat, approx. a football field away...squint. Watch.

    They start coming. Slowly one, two...then four...then 15....then pods of five...
    they travel across the sand in a constant speed, stopping to suck up a sad crab that was too slow to bury into the sand...you see flashes of white as they argue. Steady....aim... fire the line in front of them.
    Fly sinks down, the fish spook...the fish bolt....full speed away.

    Another pod....this ones bigger..like REALLY big....kinda fish that sets you heart aflutter and makes you shake when you see it. Over 30# big....
    Its tail makes side to side sweeps and its shadow is so big you could see her coming a mile away. I cast as calmly as one can with "buck fever".
    She has two escorts, still solid fish...at least mid 20"...some mid 30"..they all stay on her flanks...
    All ignore my fly...except the one that got tickled when the leader sank onto his back...he twitched...so there was that...
    The big girl comes within two feet of me before she sees me standing there....slips away across the flat a little startled but not totally scared...gone...ow.

    After about six blatant refusals, its time to switch flies...all patterns selected fail. Desperation sets in...confusion. WHAT ARE THEY EATING?!?!?!?!

    About this moment some weekend wonderguy in a center console decides to scream in front of you, churning up the sand as he deviates from deep water just because he sees your fishing from the beach- taunting you on shore ("oh poor you! standing there, on shore, no fish there, why look at me in my fancy boat! you must be so jealous!") mean while you want to rip his face off and feed it to him. Fish scatter. It makes you cry. This is called BLOWING UP THE FLAT. There are other ways this happens. Blind casting ( casting over and over without thinking or looking for fish) does this too. Usually this is someone who doesn't understand they are ruining their chances of catching a fish but hey...educate, don't hate....right?
    The line landing is sometimes enough.

    I try to calm myself and then it happens when I turn around...more fish were travelingBEHIND us...

    SNEAKY BASTARDS!!!

    Back up -back up and wait... watch a few...so now I decide to figure out what the meal of the day is.

    I start walking to a different bar, I see a sand colored crab...it doesn't take long to bury itself...hmmmmmm

    I pull out a crab fly with bright fluorescent wiggly legs...

    Cast at a fish pod...a big fish breaks at a 90 degree turn away and looks at the fly before rejoining his group.

    AAAAAAAGH!!! THEY WANT CRABS!!!!

    Slowly cast in front of moving fish...they change direction...two of them, the small one surges forward at my fly , as it hits the sand- strip-STRIKE SET IT! RESISTANCE!!! YEAAAAHHH!!!

    Fish pauses...shakes its head....goes a foot, head shake...I swear I heard it say, " WTF?" IT BOLTS....
    the other fish is right with it asking "whats up bob? what ya eating bob?", Jack gets a cast at him, fish turns off of his friend but my fish runs at me and the follower spots us and runs.

    My fish gives me a good two runs, peels drag off like crazy ...
    and I pull him towards me grip and grin, photo , release...

    solid keeper...time for bigger...

    AND there were,
    but there is so much to learn..

    I yanked the fly out of a fish that was at least 30#...she flashed sideways all lazy at my tiny fly...like, it wasn't worth eating it was so small but hey...it was there, so...hey? where'd it go? And of course this it what makes it so addictive.

    Not the fish you caught...but the fish you "lost".

    Several more fish eat...several more runs, several more fits of infectious laughter and whooping and hollering by us!

    The whole day, boat after expensive boat go screaming past, out of the harbor, nonstop and in-between boat wake there were waves... pods of beautiful heavy stripers exposed themselves to polarized eyes. ALL DAY...
    then we stop..
    we need to eat...we need sunscreen...we need to stop...

    I stand there helpless but still smirking.... I probably have seen more fish in two hours than that boat guy ever has...
    Do I need a boat? No... I need new waders....lol, my feet are full of water!

    And I have a weird sunburn...

    That's that flats!
    banjer, Schooner, Knot-Yet and 21 others like this.
  2. chvonn

    chvonn Well-Known Member YakPack

    Awesome report!

    That's what I love about stripers - they set up in such diverse environments that you can choose to fish for them pretty much anywhere and in any way. Reefs, marshes, rips, open water, shallow flats....some days its a fish every cast and other times they have lockjaw, refusing everything you put in front of them!
  3. beef78

    beef78 Well-Known Member YakPack

    I love flyfishing! One of these days, I'm going to buy a nine weight and convert to salt.
    T-Angler and macawbird like this.
  4. markn

    markn Moderator YakPack

    Great write up Val. Felt like I was there.
    macawbird likes this.
  5. Stinking Wally

    Stinking Wally NEKF BOD YakPack Board of Directors

    Admin Post
    Excellent post Val. Great read. Thanks!
    macawbird likes this.
  6. T-Angler

    T-Angler Active Member YakPack

    Wow, you are a poet as well as an artist! wonderful write up!
    macawbird likes this.
  7. Bluefinn18

    Bluefinn18 Well-Known Member YakPack

    Great post.
    macawbird likes this.
  8. RonnieT

    RonnieT Well-Known Member YakPack

    What a great way to start the day by reading your post. Please post the next chapter when you write it.
    Jeff270 likes this.
  9. Trico22

    Trico22 Well-Known Member YakPack

    great post Val! my sight fishing attempt was much less successful. Very few fish observed on the Barnstable flat Saturday morning.
  10. JigMaster5

    JigMaster5 Well-Known Member YakPack

    great report! any fish pics?
    macawbird likes this.
  11. billybass

    billybass NEKF BOD YakPack

    great report I just wanted to stand next to you and watch
    A true artist even with your words
    T-Angler and macawbird like this.
  12. skikid00

    skikid00 Active Member YakPack

    Awesome post Val! :)
    macawbird likes this.
  13. Rockport24

    Rockport24 NEKF BOD YakPack Board of Directors

    Great write up Val!! send this to On the Water!
  14. macawbird

    macawbird Well-Known Member YakPack

    just this guy IMG_7907.JPG
    Bones, flyak, Konrad and 5 others like this.
  15. macawbird

    macawbird Well-Known Member YakPack

    couldnt resist- heres one from today

    Attached Files:

    Stinking Wally likes this.
  16. flyak

    flyak Well-Known Member

    Some of my best memories were wading both flats. Glad to hear the fish are coming back.
    macawbird likes this.
  17. Bones

    Bones Well-Known Member

    Great report Val thanks!
    macawbird likes this.
  18. Knot-Yet

    Knot-Yet Well-Known Member YakPack

    Awesome Val!!
    macawbird likes this.

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