In Part One of this series, we learned a few tips on how to develop and fine-tune your sixth sense for flats fishing. We can’t exactly see through the water from above the surface, but arming yourself with certain tools, as well as getting the lay of the land in your local waters, can be a big step towards honing this skill. Today, you’ll read about a few more ways you can do this when fishing the flats.
In Part One, I discussed a little bit about how taking some time to examine your local flats when the tide is low, in order to gain a better understanding of what the bottom features look like. But what if you’re fishing new waters? No matter how much you plan ahead, sooner or later you are going to find yourself fishing strange waters, where you’ll have no clue what is under the surface. Furthermore, outside factors, such as wind or low water clarity make reading the bottom that much tougher, whether you’re in familiar territory or new waters. When you find yourself in such a position, start by looking for breaks in the bottom geography, such as channel edges, grass lines or sandy holes. Start right under the boat, where the bottom features are most obvious and follow it out with your eyes. Practice seeing how far you can shift your focus away from the boat and take note of any changes in the terrain, including structure. Being able to tune your eyes really is the key to developing your flats sixth sense, so practice picking up these subtle changes.
Let’s move from your eyes down to the opposite end of your body: your feet. Your eyes can do a lot, but if you’re not willing to get out of the boat now and then to get your feet wet, you’ll miss out on a ton of fish. In the shallows, where fish will often spook well out in front of the boat, any height advantage that a boat gives you is negated. Fish are usually oblivious to waders, so take some time during low light levels or muddied water to feel your way around with your feet.
Lastly, and I know it may seem cliché to say this, but practice does indeed make perfect. When you become more conscious of what lays under the surface, you’ll see great results. What you don’t want, though, is to become lazy and rely more on your “honey holes,” rather than your skill. There are several external factors—weather, seasonal shifts, fish behavior, and fishing pressure—that can affect your favorite fishing spots. A lazy fisherman might find himself out of the fish and a little rusty in the skills that it takes to find them again. Rather than take success for granted, try to learn something new on every trip to the flats.
You see, with a little work and time you can develop a sixth sense of sorts that will help you immensely when you’re fishing the salty flats. Take the tips outlined in this series to heart and you’re sure to see your own results boost in no time.