Over summer I’ve managed a little less fishing than I would have liked. The fishing I have done though, has revolved around me simplifying my life. Somehow, living in the city, being connected to the internet and social media, with our busy schedules and commitments, our lives become somewhat, if not overly complicated.
Last year was manic for me, and when I reached the end, I simply wanted a change of pace. We took holidays on the mid north coast of NSW, without the boat in tow, and the fishing I did included a single spin or fly rod and a handful of surface lures or flies. Wading the flats in a pair of boardies, popping, blooping and walking my lures in search of Bream and Whiting. Simple stuff really, but fun, relaxing and extremely visual.
There are no hard and fast rules for this style of fishing, except to have fun, but here are three tips that might just help you catch a few more fish.
Long casts spook less fish: Not a particularly difficult concept to grasp, and probably self-explanatory, but when you’re wading the flats, you’re wading in the water. As you plod along, splashing and fumbling and stirring up the bottom, fish in your general vicinity can hear you coming.
The ability to make long searching casts over the flats will greatly increase your chances of presenting your lure to your unsuspecting adversary. Obviously rod and lure choice are a personal preference, but longer, faster tapered rods will let you punch a heavier lure out with greater distance than shorter regular action rods.
It also helps if you have a bit of a breeze at your back fishing these big expansive flats. The breeze will help to carry your lure further, and will also mask your presence by creating a bit of ripple or chop on the surface.
Look at the bottom: Importantly, as with any style of fishing, bottom structure and its effect on current and flow is a critical consideration. Having cut my teeth fishing the extremely tidal influenced, Sydney Harbour, I’m always conscious of what effect the tide and current have on the bite pattern. My preference is to fish the run out tide, concentrating on points and structure that are directly influenced by the current. These locations provide ambush points for predatory fish to prey on unsuspecting bait as they drift past in the flow.
Fishing the sand flats is not too different. By observing the channels and gutters and their geographic location in relation to weed beds, rock bars and the like will certainly point you in the right direction when it comes to locating the fish. Even the smallest drop offs and gutters on the flats are worth exploring with your long searching casts.
Can you see me? A good pair of polarising sunglasses is an essential piece of equipment that I haven’t yet mentioned. They allow you to see so much more than you could otherwise without them – even the fish.
Honestly, I’ve never been great at spotting cruising fish, and it’s taken a bit of practice to get better at doing it. I remember someone telling me once that rather than trying to focus on seeing fish, I should scan the water and look for the shadows that don’t look quite right, and that’s what I do now. You’ll be surprised at how much difference this technique makes, and observing the direction that the shadows are moving will allow you to make your casts in front of the fishes path and work the lure to entice a bite.
Not to say that blind casting doesn’t work, particularly if you target the gutters, channels and drop offs discussed above, but there is nothing quite like sight-casting to a fish and provoking them to eat your lure.