Welcome to Salt Water Fly Fishing

Welcome to Fly Fishing The Salt! If you are just discovering the joys of fly fishing the salt (or salt chuck as some call it) here you will find information to steer you in the right direction. Tips on what equipment to use, why, where and how to fish. And we will try to include a little inspiration to get you going. For the experienced salt water angler, there will be personal stories about real fishermen and their experiences, tips on what flies for which fish and techniques that work. Your stories and articles are also most welcome. Share the knowledge and adventure. Pass it on! This is for you.


Wading the Lower Cape

By Jeff Smith


There's something special about fishing on foot on Cape Cod. To me it has nostalgic value, not to mention a very effective, scenic, peaceful way to spend your time fishing for Cape Cod stripers. I admit a boat can be a big help and almost a necessity come mid to late summer but the reward may not be as sweet. There are dozens of places to flyfish from shore on the Cape but I will stick to the extreme Lower Cape area with which I am familiar.

One of the great things about fishing on foot is there is very little stress involved. You don't have to worry about filling up your boats gas tank and finding a place to launch and park for that matter. A cold front or high pressure system won't make you run for the marina, instead you pull your rain jacket off your chest pack and zip up and look forward to grayer skies and extreme surf. These are the moments a shore bound striped bass fisherman live for.

One of the great things about fishing on foot is you have more range than you might realize. From Wellfleet north the Cape narrows and it is just a few minutes drive from the bay to the Atlantic side. So if you are unproductive on one side or the water seems to warm or too cold and the fishing is slow it's just a short time before your wading somewhere on the opposite side.

April is the kickoff for the striped bass migration to the Cape. My favorite place to intercept these hungry roving fish is at the mouth of Wellfleet harbor on the bay side. They get here by traveling through the canal and working up the bay shoreline. Water temperature is still in the 50's at this time and I believe the bass are looking for warmer water and Wellfleet harbor brings it to them. They funnel into the back bays for a few weeks before moving out and up towards the tip and beyond. This can be flyfishing heaven here from mid April to the middle of May. By the middle of May the bass have filled in the back beach or Atlantic side pretty thoroughly. Daytime fishing can be very productive from shore at this time. By wearing polaroid glasses you can see pod after pod of fish moving in a northern direction along the beach. It's easy to intercept these pods with a little practice and patience.

There are numerous public beaches from Nauset to Provincetown. Getting to these parking lots early is the key. Come June, the area directly below each public beach parking lot fills up quickly with sunbathers, swimmers, and surfer wannabes so take your time and walk for a spell in either direction. You will find plenty of space and most likely won't see another fisherman if you don't mind walking a bit. The outer Cape beach is probably the most spectacular scenic beach on the Atlantic seaboard so good fishing or no fishing it's still a grand experience! I use two different type of lines here. A full length intermediate for fishing on top of the bars when the tide is either going or coming and a fast sink shooting head for fishing the flood tide. Flies of choice vary but I enjoy using 4-6 inch baitfish imitations made with yak hair and a lot of flash. If not successful with those I will tie on a tried and true 2/0 chartreuse clouser with heavy gold flash. Vary your retrieve until you start picking up fish. A stripping basket is a must while wade fishing to keep your flyline from sloshing around in the surf and tangling around your legs. I personally like to work an area for a length of time before giving up. Bass move around a lot with the tide so you can be scoreless and believe there isn't a fish within a hundred miles of where your fishing and then all of a sudden your catching fish on every cast for the next two hours.

Monomoy is world renowned for site casting to striped bass, it also has a reputation for being a zoo with too many anglers. For a change of pace the flats of Provincetown harbor can offer some spectacular site fishing. Provincetown is known as a commercial port and the majority of the recreational anglers who do fish here fish with long surf rods equipped with spinning reels with a 4-5oz bank sinker chunking bait. My flat of choice is the one off the dike inside the harbor. The dike links the west end of town to Long Point or the tip of Cape Cod. This flat is best fished from a boat but wading an hour either side of low can be productive also. Bass move in with the tide here and roam the sandy bottom in search of sandeels or green crabs. As the tide floods and starts to drop they lay up in the small channels and current flows that are created by water flowing through the dike. Monster bluefish also cruise this flat and I have taken fluke numerous times with a fly here also. You very rarely see anybody else fishing this flat so even though there may be a dozen boats working the edge from the tip to the Race, this flat is usually vacant and you may have it all to yourself. If and when you get tired of fishing the flats within the harbor all you have to do is venture over a dune to get to Long Point. From here to Wood End is very productive water for the walking flyfisher. My favorite time to fish this area which is of a mile long is on the dropping tide.

Fish move in close to the feeder creeks which are formed by the flood to pick off stray sand eels floating out into the bay. The current of the bay usually hits these trickle flows perpendicular and it is best to fish 10-20 yards down of where the flow meets the current. When the tide bottoms out the edge which the wire liners jig at is only about 75 feet from the shore. An extra fast sink head and a smooth and efficient double- haul can put your fly where the majority of large bass come from up here using jigit eels.

Herring Cove is a popular sun bathing spot but it's also a great place to lay out some flyline. There is a large parking lot at Herring Cove and it's free for parking until July 1st I believe. I usually park at the northermost end and work my way towards Hatches Harbor about 1/3 of a mile to the right. Tide doesn't seem to matter so much here for I have picked up fish at all stages in the tide. This is one of my favorite spots to flyfish when the sun is setting I have witnessed spectacular sunsets here on glass smooth water while watching humpback whales do their dance in the horizon beyond.

The National Seashore years ago bought the outside beach land from Provincetown to Orleans. Several areas can be accessed with a 4x4 and a seasonal or weekly permit purchased from the Seashore office. Where the National Seashore guys will let you drive can be a problem at times due to the Pipling Plover nests. Regardless it is still worth to purchase a seasonal ticket or a weekly ticket if you plan on venturing over only for a few days. This can open up miles and miles of unbroken shoreline to fish.

There are few light tackle guides in this area and that's probably a reason for the remote feeling you get fishing in the spring or fall here.

As with the rest of the Cape, there are numerous lodging facilities just about anywhere you look. If your a camper there are several camping areas in the area surrounding Truro. Most are equipped with shower facilities and a small store. Skiffs can be rented at Flyers boat yard in Provincetown for a modest fee.
Have faith in your ability and use common fishing sense and in time you will know where and when to fish this beautiful area. Part of the fun is figuring it out on your own.~ Jeff Smith

About Jeff:
Jeff lives in Wellfleet, MA and is a wade guide and has a popular saltwater flyfishing website FlyFishSaltwaters.com You will find other interesting saltwater information there as well.


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