NOT AS HARD AS YOU THINK!�
By Rich Johnson
drifting along any one of the areas estuary islands, sun peeking over the horizon
and the mirrored bay stares back at you with self image. Small schools of bass, weaks or
blues break the surface as baitfish scatter the early morning tranquillity seeking escape
for their lives. Now picture yourself making your first cast with...a fly rod? Thats
right, a fly rod! Its not as difficult as it looks and once tried can become a
passion for some. As saltwater fly fishing continues to soar in the realms of saltwater
angling, fishermen now realize the plethora of opportunities at their fingertips all
across the tri-state region.
ISLAND HOPPING. The waterways of our area make up
a truly unique estuary system. Here grass & marsh islands intertwine with cuts and
channels through the bays, delicate in nature, playing a vital role in the flushing and
cleansing of the entire system. Serving as nurseries for young fish & crustaceans,
many of these islands may support your weight, while others have the consistency of quick
sand and the same perils. An angler walking across these islands may be subject to a
summons for environmental reasons as some of these areas may be protected and you should
research an area before fishing it.
BY LAND. Many islands do have large sand or
sand/mud flats bordering deeper cuts and channels. These are places where you get out and
fly cast as you walk. These tend to produce best at the top of the flood and on the ebb
tide. Bass and blues will foray into the shallows on these tides and then ride the edge on
the dropping tide looking for an easy meal. Use caution when working the mud flats and
watch where you step. You should wear footwear! There are razor clams in and around these
mud flats and they get their name for a reason!
BY BOAT. Look for cuts in and around the islands,
its here spearing, baby bunker, shrimp and small crustaceans wash out of these cuts
on an ebbing tide. Youll want to drift these cuts, channels and openings of the
marsh islands, casting ahead and stripping your fly back, causing a darting effect as the
fly turns to follow the boat.
console is the best choice for this kind of fishing and using a rental skiff from a
fishing station is also a profitable way to pursue your quarry. These draw only inches of
water and have plenty of room for a couple of flycasters to wave the wand. If youre
fly fishing from a larger boat with T-Tops, cuddy cabins or lots of canvas, then boat
positioning becomes a critical factor and youll want someone steady on the wheel as
you cast to these prime locations.
TACKLE. Most of your salty flyrodding can be
comfortably done with a 9 or 10-weight outfit. As for rod length, 9 to 10-1/2 -foot should
suffice just fine. I opt for the shorter version fishing from a boat and the extended long wand, when walking the flats and
island edges. I prefer the Fenwick World Class series of fly rods for this action.
a wide array of fly reels to fit each anglers personality and pocketbook. Pfluger is
probably the most affordable and a good place to start. Its been around longer than
any of the others and is a real workhorse. There are reels with better drag systems on the
market, along with anti-reverse reels, but you get what you pay for and the more bells
& whistles, the more youll spend. Reels should hold a minimum of 200 yards of 20
to 30-pound Dacron backing.
comes to fly lines, I use floating or intermediate sinking lines, again the Fenwick World
Class fly lines. These carry the brunt of my fly fishing when casting these islands. No
matter what you use, keep spare spools with different, weight forward lines with you. On
calm water, Ill choose a floating line when fishing shallow. In a breeze, switch
over to an intermediate sinking line to get the fly below a chop. Ill then use a 300
grain sinking line to fish the deep channels that border these islands' flats. These three
lines should cover most of your fly fishing.
FLIES. You want to keep your fly choice and
specific patterns as close to whats happening as you can. I prefer smaller flies
early in the spring like epoxy head silver sides, spearing imitations and small deceivers,
these are all prime candidates. Clousers are another well-received choice.
season progresses and water warms, you can move on to blue claw or calico crab patterns,
baby bunker, surface poppers and silicone killies. Once the season rounds itself out and
fall arrives (before you know it), you can move to larger patterns like bunker, mackerel,
large deceivers and larger poppers.
So if you
find yourself watching the sun rise on the bay and the peacefulness of the moment is
disrupted by the sudden splurge of bass on small table
fare, pick up a fly rod and give it a toss. Once you try it, you may never go
back to spinning tackle! If youre interested in getting into this exciting fishing,
following is a list of some tackle shops that specialize in salty flyrodding and can help
you out! See you on the water!