The water flows off the flat as the tide drops and the sun rises in the sky. It’s a never ending dance, a continuous symphony of light and water and color. I carefully pick my way through the white-water around a rock garden I’ve been fishing and think of the music lessons and band practices from a lifetime ago. Words like allegro, espirando, bellicoso and poco a poco fill my mind with the same definition, just a different meaning.
I follow a trough running across the flat to where it narrows before opening to the outside and deeper water. I move from waist deep water to knee deep in one step where I can see down into a natural choke-point and watch for cruising fish. The breeze creates ripples on the water’s surface that cast shadows on the sand below. If you stare at these shadows long enough, they look like fish; if you wait long enough, fish will move through them. Sometimes.
A striped bass on the flats is a chameleon. Its stripes and body coloration allow it to blend in with its surroundings and virtually disappear to avoid detection from above. There are times I have seen a fish only at the last second as it swims by my feet and spooks from my reaction. When I have other anglers with me in these conditions I tell them to look for a rock or a shadow that seems out of place. If you look for a fish, you’re likely not to see them.
Flats fishing is frustrating, especially if you’re wading. There are very few “first cast” or “third cast” fish. They come after thousands of casts. Hours can turn into days and days into weeks without a catch. I’ve spent a lot of time on different flats inside and outside of Cape Cod Bay. Each flat is different, each tide is different. Some days I catch multiple fish, some days I don’t. Some fish are big, most are not. Each outing, catch or no catch, teaches me a little more about the place and the fish.
It’s a process.
Poco a poco.
On the flats
24 July 2016