When it comes to fishing the flats, time and experience will combine to create a different ype of vision that will help anglers know what’s happening below the surface. Most fishermen don’t have this ability, though, and as a result, they miss out on great opportunities. A flats fisherman can spend a lot of money on the best boats and gear but if he can't see and understand what is under the surface, it won’t matter how expensive his tackle was. This type of vision does not come naturally, but is learned, and today we’ll take a closer look at how you can hone your flats sixth sense.
If you are going to fish the flats, the first thing you should do is obtain some polarized sunglasses. This may seem obvious to some of you, but you’d be surprised at how many fisherman hit the water without them. Polarized glasses vary in quality, but you do get what you pay for; many of the pricier models—such as Costa Del Mar or Maui Jim—are better and are well worth the investment. However, less expensive ones can still get the job done if you can find a quality pair, and it’s not quite as big a deal to replace them if they break or get lost. When choosing a pair, it’s important to make sure they wrap around and fit closely to your face. Glasses with side panels can prevent light from entering and reflecting off of the inside of your lenses which would in effect increase glare and cut down on visibility.
On a related note, you can increase the effectiveness of your sunglasses by wearing a hat with a bill or brim that’s wide enough to pull right down over your sunglasses. This will further reduce the glare that reaches your eyes.
To gain a better knowledge of the flats in your area, it’s okay to cheat a little by sneaking out at low tide. If you already know what bottom features are in a given area, it’s going to be a lot easier to see it and properly fish it in the future. With little water to hide them, you can commit to memory all the potholes, shell bottom, troughs and other fish magnets that are invisible when the tide is higher. You can also bring a topo map of the area and take notes if you want. The best time for this kind of hands-on studying is around the new and full moons when the tides reach both their highest and lowest levels of the month.
The best flats fisherman will be the one that has refined his sixth sense over many hours on the water, and the tips listed above will help you get started. Be sure to drop by again for more tips on how to better read the flats and further bolster your angling repertoire.