What to Expect: Fly Fishing the New England Flats

Pre-Trip Buzz

If you're like me, the days leading up to guided fishing are filled with excitement and anticipation.  Pre-trip buzz can be half the fun as you get to break out beloved gear, visualize your day ahead and anticipate what lessons are soon to be learned.  Your trip is an opportunity to log more observations and a chance to ask questions while polishing your skills.  Many fly angling skills have relevance across multiple fisheries so you never know what new trick will give you that extra edge in the future.  

 An average striper gets released by Jon Traega during a productive flats session.  Photo: @nicksfort

An average striper gets released by Jon Traega during a productive flats session.  Photo: @nicksfort

Preparing for Your Trip

The fish and their mood will always be the x-factor and something that we can't control.  As guides and anglers it's our job to hit the water as prepared as we can be.  Accurate casting at 40 to 60 feet and staying cool under pressure is a great foundation for a successful day on the water. 

Casting practice prior to your guide trip is one of the most important things to do before you step onto the bow.   Set up some targets at roughly 30, 40 and 60 feet away.  Make quick casts to each of the targets and try to land your fly and line quietly on the grass.  Work on picking your line up gently and laying it back down 10 feet to the right of your previous cast.  Also work on leading your targets by 5 to 10 feet.  You can set up some different drills for yourself but focus on accuracy, staying calm and a quiet presentation.  

Morning Flats Fly Fishing

Most of my guide trips start at 5a but it all depends on the tide, my client's skill level and what we want to accomplish that day.  Mornings on the flats can be exhilarating.  Stripers are confident at this time of day.  We will be looking for nervous water, v-wakes, tails and other signs of happy fish eating crabs and shrimp in the shallow water.  These fish are typically ready to play ball but the challenge is making a good presentation.  Under the low light conditions it can be tougher seeing exactly where the fish is and what it's doing.  Teamwork comes into play here.  From my perch on the poling platform, we will have the advantage in sighting these fish and making a plan to accurately put a fly in the striper's feeding lane.  This is one of my favorite times of day to fish the flats, it's peaceful, calm, quiet and the fish can do some really cool things.  

 Fish wake at the top of the image, showing their position, distance and direction traveled.  

Fish wake at the top of the image, showing their position, distance and direction traveled.  


Questions??  Shoot me an email and I'll get right back to you: Kyle@SoulFlyOutfitters.com.


Midday Flats Session

The advantage of fly fishing the flats mid-day with the sun overhead is that we will have great visibility into the water.  We'll be able to clearly see stripers cruising, the direction they are going and their distance from the boat.  The catch 22 is that the fish will be able to see us much better.  We need to be stealth and present the right cast before our quarry sees us!  On good days we will see dozens and dozens of fish, getting plenty of shots.  

These sunny, midday flats sessions make you feel like you are bonefishing in the Bahamas with crystal clear water and solid fish cruising all around.  There's nothing like it.  

 Perfect conditions for sighting stripers on the flats.  Sight fishing on the fly, at its finest.  Photo:  @beershower

Perfect conditions for sighting stripers on the flats.  Sight fishing on the fly, at its finest.  Photo: @beershower

Evening/Night Flats Fly Fishing?!

As the twilight hours approach stripers begin to get more active again.  Remembering that striped bass are primarily nocturnal feeders, it's no surprise that the flats are productive in the evening and at night.  The challenge again is sighting.  Night sessions can be great when it's calm and there's a moon big enough to light up the flat.  During both the evening and night time flats session you will be looking for waking fish and nervous water.  These fish will be comfortable but it's still key to stay stealth out there.  

 The sun drops below the horizon on an ocean front flat.  Photo:  @beershower

The sun drops below the horizon on an ocean front flat.  Photo: @beershower

So You Want to Fish the Flats?

You don't have to hop on an airplane to the Southeast or the Bahamas to get great flats fishing.  We have some incredible opportunities right here in New England.  It is challenging but rewarding and this type of fishing is accessible to all angling levels from beginner to expert.  

Pick a day from late May to the end of August and Soul Fly Outfitters will be psyched to get you into the skinny waters of New England.  Give a call at 603.969.3050 or drop me an email Kyle@Soulflyoutfitters.com and we can pick a great tide to fish together.  See you out there.  

 Cloudy afternoon on the flats.  We can get it done in most conditions even if it's not a perfectly clear sky with ideal conditions.  Patience and teamwork is key!  Photo:  @beershower

Cloudy afternoon on the flats.  We can get it done in most conditions even if it's not a perfectly clear sky with ideal conditions.  Patience and teamwork is key!  Photo: @beershower

 

 

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