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Ask Frank Daignault Frank Daignault is recognized as an authority on surf fishing for striped bass. He is the author of six books and hundreds of magazine articles. Frank is a member of the Outdoor Writers of America and lectures throughout the Northeast.

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  #1  
Old 10-21-2019, 12:21 PM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is online now
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Default Striper talk -- Fishing the Flats

Reflect upon your view of flats fishing. My limited flats experience is that it can be very dangerous at night, especially for areas where tides can rise or fog can come in. What are your experiences, if any, as well as your views.
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Old 10-21-2019, 01:56 PM
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Default Re: Striper talk -- Fishing the Flats

Down here, there has been a new (renewed?) interest in fishing the flats. However, due to the marsh and bottom structure available here, most of it is by boat only. And being boat anglers, most pursue this during low light or even daylight, but not many at night (none that I know of). Night boat anglers "seem" to concentrate on deeper structures, as do most foot anglers, fishing sods, channels, bridges, cuts where deeper water is available.

There are a few places where one can approach by boat, then wade by foot, and these would be good targets for night angling (I'm speaking of my home waters), similar to those who fish the sedge islands behind Island Beach State Park... they typically kayak out, then fish those flats by foot, and most by night.

Our flats consist of many really dangerous (to wade) muddy areas, with various seaweed beds that fish use for ambush, with sand "pockets" that are barren of vegetation, in the midst of the flats. Predators (stripers, weakfish and sometimes redfish) use the vegetation for either rooting out food (dislodging crabs/shrimp) or for ambush of any bait that crosses those barren pockets. Apart from "seeing" signs of the predators (fins, tailing), is to fish those pockets.

Btw, when I say "dangerous to wade"... one can be on a sod bank and step off and be in 4 ft of mud... almost "quicksand" like mud. And there are clammers, crabbers and anglers that get caught out there every year, a few fatally in recent years. So, that's why it takes a lot of knowledge to find suitable wading flats.

This is very different than other areas, where current, structure and bottom makeup allow very deep wading of the flats, such as the Raritan bayshore (both along NJ and Staten Island sides).
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Old 10-22-2019, 08:36 AM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is online now
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Default Re: Striper talk -- Fishing the Flats

When you combine night fishing with possible fog, flats fishers should be carrying a compass. Imagine yourself lost in the fog and not knowing where the dry shore is with the tide rising. Th Brewster flats used to trap stripers in deep pools and anglers would get distracted with the fishing and not notice the tide had changed and was beginning to cover the flats. Then what?
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Old 10-22-2019, 10:17 AM
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Default Re: Striper talk -- Fishing the Flats

Quote:
Originally Posted by Francis Daignault View Post
When you combine night fishing with possible fog, flats fishers should be carrying a compass. Imagine yourself lost in the fog and not knowing where the dry shore is with the tide rising. Th Brewster flats used to trap stripers in deep pools and anglers would get distracted with the fishing and not notice the tide had changed and was beginning to cover the flats. Then what?
I agree. A personal GPS also can provide a track so that you can find your way back on circuitous route of bars and cuts, if needed.

Something like this (waterproof, can download charts and use while wading if needed, but definitely used for navigating potentially treacherous sods):



you can zoom in to a very small footprint, and it will display the track you walked so that you can backtrack
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Old 10-23-2019, 12:42 PM
Mark C Mark C is offline
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Default Re: Striper talk -- Fishing the Flats

Daylight striper flats fishing is one of my favorite games to play. Just about any salt pond (even ones with little openings) has striper to 20 lbs. roaming the flats under the bright noon sun. The little fish don't come onto the sunny flats, I thing they know that an osprey will eat this.

Sometimes the'll eat a sand eal type fly by for the most part they are hunting crabs. I use crab flies meant for permit.

Mark C
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Old 10-23-2019, 01:40 PM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is online now
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Default Re: Striper talk -- Fishing the Flats

Interesting post, Mark. I have used crab flies, but never in the daytime. Have you ever used shrimp patterns? Grass shrimp are a staple in local striper flats.
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Old 10-23-2019, 06:52 PM
Mark C Mark C is offline
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Default Re: Striper talk -- Fishing the Flats

My friend fishes shrimp flies, especially on super educated fish that have seen a crab fly or two. Stripers on a sunny flat are afraid of their own shadow, each one hooked is a hard earned trophy.

Mark C
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Old 10-24-2019, 09:50 AM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is online now
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Default Re: Striper talk -- Fishing the Flats

Grass shrimp are a staple in our pet outflow and the bass yum on them. Because they are a small fly, they cast well in fly fishing. Its not flats fishing, persay, but it is still worth mentioning as a viable option. Shrimp flies are hard to tie which is why I buy mine. My shrimps are kind of yucky/scruffy.
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Old 03-23-2020, 12:18 PM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is online now
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Default Re: Striper talk -- Fishing the Flats

Rob mentioned GPS for flats fishing. Our new buggy has GPS but we don't know how to use it. It accidently got turned on and we couldn't get the flippin' thing to shut up: "YOUR ON CHESTNUT HILL ROAD. TURN RIGHT A QUARTER MILE NORTH." Jeepers creepers, shut the phuck up!
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Old 03-23-2020, 09:39 PM
SALMONMEISTER SALMONMEISTER is offline
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Default Re: Striper talk -- Fishing the Flats

Frank, you mentioned those Brewster Flats. A couple years ago I was catching some small bass at the end of the outgoing in daylight there. Because there is a sizable tide there and the flat is...well... flat, when the tide turned, you could hear it rushing back up the flat from a quarter mile away. I definitely wanted to scope the area out in daylight. I heeded your words in "Hots Spots" in reference to the Brewster Flats: "Tell the Nickerson Funeral Home I sent you..."
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Old 03-24-2020, 03:19 PM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is online now
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Default Re: Striper talk -- Fishing the Flats

I would never go back there again. If you are too far out or fog comes in and you don't have a compass, you would, or could, be phucked with a capitol F. With the Cape's propensity for producing fog you might prefer sky diving. Also, I like being near our buggy so I can stow fish as I catch them. When you find the bass on those flats, you are going to catch a lot of them. (Of course that kill business is over now.) It is a changed world from the one you read about today as compared to back when I had all my marbles.
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Old 03-25-2020, 07:34 AM
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Default Re: Striper talk -- Fishing the Flats

Frank, auto GPS are good for street directions but I prefer using my phone maps over any auto maps.

GPS for angling are those water proof handhelds which can have topos or charts loaded onto them. Phone apps may do the job (in fact I know there are some good apps for this) but when you are around water, a good waterproof handheld excels
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Old 03-25-2020, 11:23 AM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is online now
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Default Re: Striper talk -- Fishing the Flats

That is all stuff that I don't know anything about. At my age I have evolved into way more conservative approaches to fishing and hunting. Aging one learns to do things differently that accomodates physical decline. The Frank you read about in the books was a much younger vaccero than the person keyboarding this today. For instance we don't fish all night nor do we hunt all day. The couple we are mentoring has to be reminded of that all the time. The only skill which has remained the same is shooting. Sure, I don't get the shots in the woods I once did but when I do the target is going down; same with my wife. You don't need muscles to pull the trigger.

Incidentally, Joyce just turned 80.
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Old 04-16-2020, 12:29 PM
Francis Daignault Francis Daignault is online now
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Default Re: Striper talk -- Fishing the Flats

There used to be a couple of guides in RI who took people flats fishing. But once people paid them and were showed where to go for it, they didn't need guides any more. Guides should have known that ahead of time. Kind of a no brainer.

I would never take people fishing as a guide. All they are going to do is learn your pet spots. And, the liability of taking someone out fishing. Sure, most people would not hold you libel but it would only take one.
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