Southeast Cape Wade Inshore Saltwater Fly Fishing Report
Southeast Cape Wade Inshore Saltwater Fly Fishing Report
(Marsh, Beach, Islands, Flats, Tidal Rivers);
Some of the material will come straight from my past experience as chief instructor of the Orvis 2 ½ day saltwater fly fishing schools. Additional material will come
from first hand knowledge, gained from my many years of eating, breathing, living and loving the, New England - Cape Cod Inshore Saltwater environment. So, sit
back, relax and enjoy this Truly World Class Destination Fishery!
Through these Guides Eyes
Outer Cape Beach Migration Tip:
Last week we talked about points of structure and the relationship with current. This week with the incredible beach migration happening I'd like to discuss sight
fishing points off a beach or sand bars running out into the sea. These are some of the simplest types of structure to fish.
These fish travel the same route day after day taking all the guess work out of it once you've put your time in to study it. Many times fish will use the current and
structure to navigate. If the water is high enough you will see them travel over the top of the bar. The dry sand directly over this point is a prime location to stand to
spot fish as they will stand out over the lighter colored sand and crystal clear water.
As the water drops further you will then see them hesitate when they come in contact with this bar or point. Then they slowly swim around this sand structure until
they have made it completely back to the beach on the other side. By moving out onto the bar as the tide drops gives you an opportunity to cast on all 3 sides of the
point. If I miss them on my first shot, I can always get them as they round the corner. If you are in an area where there are more bars, channels and troughs further
out and the tide is still dropping then its time to continue moving out with the fish. They will use these channels to navigate until it gets to shallow.
Sometimes the sand creates a cove along the beach with one way in and out as the tide drops. You will see them enter it, swim around and exit where they came into
it. Again, giving you ample opportunity to present your bait, lure or fly.
There is another common occurrence that happens when you have a jetty or big out reaching bar or point on a flat or beach. Any fish that is traveling between the
beach and point of structure will compress and round the tip of this structure. I often use these bars on the flats to give my guests the best shot at seeing all the fish.
Another very important aid that these types of structure allow you when sight fishing is a height advantage. The higher up you are the greater your visual cone will be.
The more fish you see, the more shots you will have. The further away you can see them coming the more time it allows you to prepare.
Fish relate to structure as we and every other species does. Having an intimate understanding of the relationship between structure, comfortable travel water depth
and fish migration will help open up this incredible world of surf sight fishing in the Spring time to migrating Bass.
Bass River Sand Flats:
Worked the afternoon incoming tide with the bright sun over head and saw about 350 Stripers and 12 Blues in about 3 hours.
I saw approx. 1500 stripers in 2 hours within casting range. Schools of 50 to 200 swam in as little as 1 foot of water. Some keepers were in the mix. They ate the
squid reel good! Bright sun, high noon, crystal clear water and nothing but the sound of the surf to keep me company.
Today I waded the outside of South Beach with the sun and counted no less than 2,000 bass migrating by me within casting distance in 1-4 feet of water.
(See Photo's - www.yankeeangler.com - Fishing Reports);
Notice the dark spot in the center of each photo. That's a school of about 200 Bass. This is a normal occurrence during the month of May. This week they have all
been mostly schoolies with a few Blues. As each day pass's you will notice a slow increase of size of Bass and more Blues. All are within casting range of a fly rod in
1-4 feet of crystal clear water! These fish are on fire and not easily spooked. I love this type of fishing because its all visual. I never blind cast in these situations
because if you don't see them, then they are simply not there. Some of these schools have been spotted over 100 yards away as they travel shallow, slow and can at
times be in schools as big as your house or bigger! Even I can catch these fish! (he-he);
(See Photo - www.yankeeangler.com - Fishing Reports);
My good friend Bill O’Mally caught and released this 39-inch'a on a fly last year during the migration!. He saw it swimming in 2 feet of water on a sunny day at high
noon on an outer Cape beach. He choose to release it, so it could reproduce more offspring for all of us and our children's pleasure We all need to remember that
we are the stewards of our environment. If it were not for conservation minded people 20 years ago, we would not be enjoying the fruits of their labor today. Please
remember that a fish is to valuable a resource to only be caught once.
For the next 2, 3 weeks expect 500- 2000 stripers per day migrating along the outer Cape beaches with-in casting range. Expect there size to increase every few
days until most will be in the 30 inch and above range mixed in with Blues. If sunny, sight fishing for them as they cruise along the beach in schools of 50-200
(Average) within 30 feet of the shoreline will be an optional treat. Expect blues to be mixed in. For the Blues I enjoy working a surface popper.
Most of these outer beach Bass cruisers do not like surface poppers or gurglers. Instead keep your fly sub-surface with any type of line. What I find to be the most
visually exciting is to fish a big fly on a floating line. Watching them break from the school to chase your fly to the surface with reckless abandonment, inhaling it with
eagerness as if it was there last meal.
Count Down Method:
This method is one I always use when fishing deep or fishing in the spring time. Heres why its so productive. Alot of the time ,bait is on the bottom near structure(
Rocks, sand bars, eel grass, lobster traps) to blend in and find protection. A major portion of predator fish are also there to feed. So by getting your line down to the
bottom , you'll present your fly to the majority of fish. The way to achieve this is to cast and count to 15. Cast and count to 20. Continue to count longer and longer
until you pull back eel grass or you feel your fly being pulled through the sand. Now Ill cast and count 5 sec. LESS there by bringing my fly just above the bottom.
This technique will catch you 100 more fish then simply casting into deep water and retrieving right away.
Having studied bass and watched them set-up around structure. Ive noticed they'll wait to ambush the bait as it searches for cover or is swept along in the current.
The times I've been able to see this, Ive cast my fly just above the fish and stripped it towards the structure. The bass have always taken it with pleasure!
Why do I get knots in my leader and how can I straighten it?
Most wind knots (Normally they are actually bad casting knots) are created by improper casting technique. 85% of the time they are created by pushing the rod
forward on an even plan during the power stroke.
Visualize a paint brush on the end of your rod. You are probably painting a flat ceiling. Now paint the ceiling of an igloo and by george, you've got it!
The best way I normally straighten out my leader is with the help of all the monster fish pulling on the other end!
Monomoy Island - Sight Fishing the Flats - CAPE COD Chatham, MA.
Its high noon, blue-bird sky, light colored sand, incoming tide, cool breeze blow-in’, standing in 2-3 feet of crystal clear water in June, July and August. Girls in grass
skirts surround you (just kidding). Sound like the Caribbean?
Here on the Cape, we have miles and miles of light colored sand flats and crystal clear water that makes sight casting to 5-25 pound stripers the order of the day.
This is probably the most exciting type of fly-fishing you will ever do. They're cruising the flats eating crabs, shrimp, silver sides and sand lances, and just waiting for
your perfectly cast fly. Sometimes you need to burn up the water with a fast retrieve and at other times using a dead drift with the current is all that is needed. All
methods will require distance, speed and accuracy in your casting skills.
You have some of the finest destination flats fishing in the world right here on Cape Cod. Seeing 100s or more fish in a tide is the norm. Test your skills and let’s
work together to help you along the path to hooking up in paradise.
Flats- A large expanse of shallows, consisting of mud, eel grass or sand.
Stripers and blues come to this area in search of food. As the sand flat becomes covered with water the baitfish move up onto the flat through troughs, sluiceways
and channels to escape the predators. Approximately 2 hours before the high the predators come up onto the flat following these same troughs (like roads) in search
of food. This would be a good place to stand and sight cast to them.
Sun and no wind make for optimal sight fishing conditions as they cruise the flat. At high tide many times you will find them in 6 inch’s of water tight to the shore,
again, this is were there next meal is hiding. So this would be an additional area to prospect during that stage of the tide.
As the water starts to recede, the larger fish will leave that area and depart off the flat using similar channels and sluiceways that they came up on. This is another
prime spot to fish.
Normally they will hold, waiting in ambush in the deeper water for the baitfish to get flushed off the flat. My next move would be to stand close to the edge of the flat
and cast my fly into the creek that is flowing off the flat. I’d allow my fly to swing and sink, imitating a baitfish being washed off the flat.
This is one of many basic feeding patterns that never changes and consistently repeats itself, tide after tide.
Fish Tails: 1999 on the Flats
While wading one day, we had large bass coming at us from all directions for an hour steady. At one point, we were totally surrounded with bass in one to three feet
of water. Martin asked me where he should cast and my response was, anywhere. It just didn’t matter. These same fish continued to repeat this pattern all summer
A couple of days later I was treated to a day on Captain Dave Steeves, 18’ Hewes flatsboat. We had ideal conditions and we counted close to 2,000 bass on the
flats in one to four feet of water. There were good #’s in the ten to fifteen pound range. Dave and I both released a fish in the twenty-pound range, plus smaller
Again, ideal conditions followed the next day. We enjoyed watching schoolie bass chase bait onto the beach in three inches of water. We knelt on the dry sand forty
feet away to keep a low profile. The fly was cast ten feet into the water with fly line never touching it. Two strips of the fly and Bill was hooking up.
We also had fifty or so bass in all sizes stacked up in front of us in a narrow channel feeding on the incoming tide. It reminded me of guiding on the Salmon River in
New York for tackle busting twenty to thirty pound King Salmon. Spoiled we were as we could see each fish and pick out the one we wanted to present the fly to
and catch. When a smaller fish tried to grab it, we would pull it away. What a hoot!
We decided to play, so I put on a shrimp pattern I designed and drifted it through the bunch on a floating line. We waited until we saw the flash (they often turn
sideways when feeding, creating a silvery flash) then immediately set the hook. We never felt the fish hit. Instead we just set by sight! We both laughed and couldn’t
help feeling like two little kids in a candy store.
When there is no sun to help you sight fish; read all of mother natures signature clues, signs she gives you and just cast.
The terns can be a great help in locating fish on the flats when overcast and cloudy weather prevails.
Lately, we’ve been spotting tailing bass in the AM. incoming tide on the flats. They’ve been in a foot of water standing on their heads grubbing for breakfast. There
tail’s are completely out of the water flopping back and forth for balance, oblivious to us. A quiet approach and stealth like stalking are needed when getting into
casting position. Or just let them come to you.
Clouds, Rain, Fog, Major lightning, seals moaning, birds diving, bait spraying, tides running hard and the sweet smell of the salt accompanied us today. No sight
fishing today? Actually we sight fished, structure, current, birds, swirls, and fish crashing bait.
At one point John Davidson from England was casting into 6 in. of water and letting the current swing his fly over a 1 ft. drop in the sand (rip). We were imitating a
baitfish being swept along in the current. The fish were holding tight along the edge of the drop eating heavily and were more than eager to eat Johns fly on numerous
Total for the day was 10 fish in all and the 2nd fish of the A.M. on the 5th cast topped the days tally with a beautiful 36-in. bass. John stated, Ive fished around the
world, but this is a day I will never forget! We even had a tea break at 2:00, promptly.
Stay tuned for 3 more Flats pieces,
Starting Monday, look for the fishing to improve on a daily basis until June 8. Tides will start to become exaggerated. This triggers the fish into feeding more
aggressively and also puts the bait at a disadvantage. Expect the fishing to be EXPLOSIVE! From June 9-18th you may notice a few less fish with these slower tides
and also an increase in refusals while sight fishing.
Herring will tend to leave in large #’s during these same exaggerated tides so a large Herring pattern should do the trick. Big bass will be caught on the dropping tide
feeding on them. Time to use big wide-body flies, especially if fishing close to a freshwater outlet
Cinder Worm Hatch:
Look for a worm hatch during these same exaggerated tides. Normally low light, evenings, mud bottomed Marsh’s best.
All marshes and tidal rivers on the south side of the Cape are on fire. Any fly is working. There is also some super action on the surface during slack tides. Small
gurglers are the fly of choice.
Fishing has been productive on the South side, off any jetty, at high tide.
Blue fish have arrived in the S.E. Cape Cod area. Normally when you hear of them in the Cotuit area, they will be here within 3-4 days. They are good first runners,
feeding on squid and <gasp> schoolies. The buggers are hitting top water noisy plugs, and fly poppers. From years past some of my best blue action with a fly has
been on days most of us would rather be in doors. If strong wind, chop is your companion, expect Mr. Blue to show up. A lot of the places that you have been
hammering the schoolies will tend to dry up as these eating machines make there presence known. That’s what happened Sat. But, also expect that the Stripers that
are around will be of larger size.
Top Fly Profiles:
I have my best luck with Blues if I imitate large bait, 3-5 inch’s tall-5-8 inch’s long. That’s what they want, so give it to’em. (Herring, Mackeral, Schoolies);
The other major profile of bait that is present are Thin (pencil or less in thickness), 4 inch’s long. Adult Sand Lances and Silversides. White on bottom, Olive on top.
Throw in a little gold flash as an attractor.
RANDY is it possible to fish Cape Cod flats from a canoe or kayak and where would be a good place to put it in?
Yup, You can fish it from a canoe, kayak. Must be very careful with weather and strong tides in places. Wind and Fog could spell " your dead" if you are not
prepared. Compass, Fog horn, Life jackets, and an understanding of boating lanes and tidal movement should be FULLY understood to prepare you for a worse
case situation. Don’t mean to scare you but people die out here every year! I see boats and wade anglers going into areas out here that I would never go, due to
stage of tide or weather. Some days start out with crystal clear skies, then out of no where – FOG, so thick you can taste it. They either get stuck and sit out the
tide, swim back or worse, don’t make it back. Other days the wind is light, you’ve checked several weather stations and in the middle of the day the wind spins and
gusts hard out of no where. A canoe would not be very good transportation if wind, chop, strong currents etc… were your company. If you get a map you will see
Town Landings (T.L.) these are all public access areas to the water.
Have Fun, BUT you have to have a clear understanding of ALL of the above to be safe!
Remember that Mother Nature makes the rules!