Monday, August 31, 2015


Ben Franklin said, "Lost time is never found again."

Driving home from work one night last week I was at a stop sign and noticed the leaves on a tree next to me were starting to change color. I sat there for a moment realizing that another season is about to pass and once again I have not spent the time on the water I planned to when the season started four months ago. There are several reasons, and they’re all justifiable, explained simply in the words my father once said to me, that “…being a man means doing what you have to do instead of what you want to do…” The time is coming, and it’s not that far off, when what I “have to do” and what I “want to do” are going to trade places. In the meantime I’ll keep pulling a little more at the leash as I plan for change and find a way to spend my days on the backwater flats.

Since I started Backwater Flats and have written a bit about were I’ve gone, what I’ve seen and people I’ve met, I’ve been asked a few times where exactly these backwater flats are, how many fish have I caught and what were they caught on. My best answer is they are wherever you want them to be and any fish caught are just a bonus. The idea is not about a specific location or the results of throwing feathers and fur at the water. It’s about getting to that place and the time spent there.

After the stop sign incident I’ve ventured out three times to spend a few hours in the backwater unplugged and unleashed from the world. Each outing was in a different place, a different tide and for different purposes. The first two were purely to escape the job, the phone and the vice for a couple of hours. Last night I headed to those flats on the edge of the marsh where this blogging idea was born two years ago. The purpose wasn’t about fishing, it was about getting there. With the sun dropping and the tide almost out I moved quickly and saved the few minutes of fishing for the other side.

Getting there is best done midway through the drop. The obstacles of finger creeks and mosquito ditches deeper than I am tall create a small window of opportunity. It takes several trips to get the timing and the route down. It’s a slog hop-scotching through the marsh and along the river bank through the mud. It’s not a straight walk in, there is a lot of climbing, sliding, jumping and stumbling involved. This is where my collection of $100 waders is invaluable and the performance clothing gets left behind in favor of work wear. River and marsh mud does not wash out of anything.

Along the way are deep pools in some of the finger creeks that on occasion will hold a trapped fish or two. It’s pretty cool to walk back into some of these places and find a fish trapped in a relatively small piece of water and spend some time trying to get them to hit a fly. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

Eventually the marsh opens up to the flats. It takes planning and timing to get there when there is still good water but every once in a while it works out. I have in the past totally committed in expedition style to spending a full tide out there. There are places to ride the tide out and they are fish-able but it gets real small, real quick.

The memory of the fish may be lost but the effort will not.

It all comes down to time.

Don't lose it.

North River, MA
31 August 2015


  1. Awesome, Mike. I've explored a couple salt marshes and can appreciate the adventure. I'm always wary of taking that one step and sinking up to your thigh in muck.

    1. Dean- Thanks. I should have prefaced this thing with a paragraph about marsh safety - it takes time and a lot of those thigh deep steps to figure out the route.