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Saltwater Fly Fishing Bonefish, Tarpon, Redfish, Permit, False Albacore, Striped Bass, etc...

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Old 01-21-2014, 11:12 PM
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Default Re: Spotting bones over grass

When stalking on flats i have trained myself to look for Shadows and flashes.

Your not always going to have visible signs......

S&S makes a good point about lens color. Which can drive you crazy...conditions can and will change.
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Old 01-23-2014, 11:21 AM
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Default Re: Spotting bones over grass

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Originally Posted by waterfordcreek View Post
When stalking on flats i have trained myself to look for Shadows and flashes.

Your not always going to have visible signs......

S&S makes a good point about lens color. Which can drive you crazy...conditions can and will change.
Any general tips for cloud cover or other low light situations? Is it best just to wait it out and try to fish at times when the sun is higher, or can you still spot flashes, etc.?

I am planning on getting a kayak I can stand up in soon enough, which should help; plus it will open up the majority of the flats here that can't be reached on foot (including the largest in Puerto Rico).
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Old 01-23-2014, 12:46 PM
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Default Re: Spotting bones over grass

Get some amber or even yellow polarized glasses. Habervision is a great company with great quality optics. I'd die without mine! They have excellent photochromatic glass that adjust to different lighting situations. Pretty affordable too.
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Old 01-23-2014, 01:24 PM
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Default Re: Spotting bones over grass

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Originally Posted by oregonism View Post
Any general tips for cloud cover or other low light situations? Is it best just to wait it out and try to fish at times when the sun is higher, or can you still spot flashes, etc.?
Get some Costa sunglasses with Sunrise lenses. They are great in low light for seeing in to the water.
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:38 AM
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Default Re: Spotting bones over grass

A lot of good info here. I'll toss in my own ideas. I have only fished for them in HI, but the bottom you fish sounds similar. The wind blows constantly there, so trying to sight fish can turn into a "walk in the water carrying an expensive stick". Since I never had one jump out of the water to take the fly out of my hand, I started blind casting areas where I had seen them and managed to do fairly well. There is a method to my madness, though.

I look for breaks in the grass, clean pockets, or just along the edges. My best fly has been a bright orange charlie with some sparkle tied in. Good contrast against the dark grass. I throw shorter casts to the close edges then work a little farther in. I've got several fish just as the fly comes out of the grass and hops into the clear bottom.

I also tend to fish a little deeper, 2-3' even though some of the flats might be good for sighting them. I've blown out groups of them in skinny water casting to one I see, but having the line fall on his wing man that I didn't.

Even though you don't see them, they're still out there. Good presentation, even with windy conditions in deeper water does make a difference.

Enjoy it!!! It's -4 here in OH and I know where I'd rather be......
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Old 01-24-2014, 02:05 PM
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Default Re: Spotting bones over grass

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Originally Posted by fr8dog View Post
A lot of good info here. I'll toss in my own ideas. I have only fished for them in HI, but the bottom you fish sounds similar. The wind blows constantly there, so trying to sight fish can turn into a "walk in the water carrying an expensive stick". Since I never had one jump out of the water to take the fly out of my hand, I started blind casting areas where I had seen them and managed to do fairly well. There is a method to my madness, though.

I look for breaks in the grass, clean pockets, or just along the edges. My best fly has been a bright orange charlie with some sparkle tied in. Good contrast against the dark grass. I throw shorter casts to the close edges then work a little farther in. I've got several fish just as the fly comes out of the grass and hops into the clear bottom.

I also tend to fish a little deeper, 2-3' even though some of the flats might be good for sighting them. I've blown out groups of them in skinny water casting to one I see, but having the line fall on his wing man that I didn't.

Even though you don't see them, they're still out there. Good presentation, even with windy conditions in deeper water does make a difference.

Enjoy it!!! It's -4 here in OH and I know where I'd rather be......
Yeah, I am starting to blind cast more and more, but I am still trying to figure out where they get laid up when they aren't on the flat. Logic would tell me that they'd be "downstream" of the flat, where the current is carrying goodies into the deeper water. Is this generally accurate?

Tried again today, but a storm was rolling in. Mainly just got high-wind casting practice... finally nailed down the accurate back-cast. Definitely way better than trying to cast across my left shoulder. Way more power.
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Old 01-24-2014, 03:49 PM
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Default Re: Spotting bones over grass

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Originally Posted by oregonism View Post
Yeah, I am starting to blind cast more and more, but I am still trying to figure out where they get laid up when they aren't on the flat. Logic would tell me that they'd be "downstream" of the flat, where the current is carrying goodies into the deeper water. Is this generally accurate?
In my experience, bones seem to spend their time searching for food rather than waiting for it to drift by. Generally though, they feed nose into the current. Where they go when they're off the flats, I know not. I was in the same boots you are. I did the self study course. It took a while to put some of the pieces together. I'm not an expert by any means, but I learned and do OK.
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Old 01-25-2014, 06:48 AM
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Default Re: Spotting bones over grass

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Originally Posted by oregonism View Post
Yeah, I am starting to blind cast more and more, but I am still trying to figure out where they get laid up when they aren't on the flat. Logic would tell me that they'd be "downstream" of the flat, where the current is carrying goodies into the deeper water. Is this generally accurate?

Tried again today, but a storm was rolling in. Mainly just got high-wind casting practice... finally nailed down the accurate back-cast. Definitely way better than trying to cast across my left shoulder. Way more power.
I've about stopped fishing over seagrass when the tide is high (and fish are difficult to see). Blind casting seems to drive away more fish than it gives you.

In Belize the bones move to deeper water when they leave the flats, often schooling in groups over holes. I've seen hundreds gathered like that, just swirling slowly. Around the islands it's easy to see their pattern of movement; as tide comes in you can see the schools leaving the flats (ocean side where the flats narrow into channels), and find them afterwards near piers on the lagoon side of the islands (over washouts where boats turn around).

It's a tough business. Patience is all that helps at times. ENJOY.
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Old 02-23-2014, 12:46 AM
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Smile Re: Spotting bones over grass

[QUOTE=oregonism;631354]I went out on one of the local flats for the first time this morning, but saw very little. I was out right at sunrise, and the low light made it really tough to see anything."

Early sight fishing on salt flats is difficult unless you have really calm water, a light colored bottom and active fish. Slow moving, cruising, fish are hard to spot then. First consider the polarization of your glasses. Polarization is most effective when the sun angle is from 30 to 60 degrees. Lower angles at dusk and dawn renders polarization ineffective. The same applies around noon as the sun climbs to 60 degrees and higher. It's then you have to rely on other ways of spotting fish. First of all you can always use contrast and the color lens for max contrast is yellow. Get a pair of light yellow for those early and late hours and they'll work great on overcast days also. Secondly you need less tint, hence the "light yellow," instead of a heavy or bright yellow. I found a pair of Hobies light yellow that are super in low light or early/late.

For that mid day sun you need much darker sunglasses and neutral dark grey or dark green are best all around and it's here that mirrored lens, pioneered by Bushnell in it's Ray Bans excel as the mirror adds a bit more blockage. Unfortunately the grey/green colors aren't best for most saltwater flats and the edge there goes to a darker brown or amber. This is due to the bottom coloration (sand and grasses, or shades of brown, a little green and tan) primarily and the fishes color on a secondary note. (most are fairly silver and therefore reflective) I've noticed that Costas is coming on strong with mirrored lenses these days.

I'm not addressing the part ones experience plays as the folks herein did an admirable job on that but rather prefer sticking to knowing your glasses and uses. You asked, "Is there a trick to spotting bones on grassier flats? Should I wait until the sun is higher in the sky? Pretty much all my fishing will be over grass, so tips would be greatly appreciated!"

Visual acuity, so get a prescription lens if you need it, is primary, and yes the best sight fishing will be late morning due to the polarization angle and again at mid afternoon. Since bones are the original mirror blind fish, you are looking for lines, wakes, waves, disturbances, etc. Their silvery sides reflect the bottom between you and them hence the mirror blind I mentioned and which is now gaining popularity among hunters. It's here that mix of yellow and brown or amber works miracles as the yellow enhances the contrasts that will enable you to pick up the fishes silhouette/and barred lines. The brown part of that yellow helps with seeing things against a brownish/green/tan bottom.

All in all if I had but one pair it would be my brownish yellow or amber, glass lens, Action Optics glasses. I do have the Hobies mentioned above and another pair of Smith AO's in neutral green/grey for the brightest sun. Have to admit though that Ray Ban nailed it many years back with their gradient, mirrored, polarized glasses for water work. The gradient was double, top and bottom a very dark tint and neutral colored fading to a lighter tint in the middle and back to very dark on the bottom thereby stopping not only the direct rays but the reflected rays also. Wish I had a pair today. Those neutral AOs are my stream and river fishing glasses also during the heat of the day as they do help with sorting out fish from all the reflected greens of the forest and fields.

Other than this experience will come and so will your bones. Get good glasses, and make sure the top, bottom and sides are well shielded, ie side shields and good wide brimmed hat as lights coming in here will hinder your spotting greatly.

Good fishing!
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Old 02-23-2014, 08:12 AM
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Default Re: Spotting bones over grass

Been there, done that.... Bones over grass are hard for everyone.

Do some low tide scouting. A big flat won't be 100% grass. Usually you can find a few slivers of sandy bottom snaking their way across a sea of turtle grass. Concentrate on working those until you're a little better at it or you're able to get up on top of the water and use an elevation advantage.

I tend to look more for shadows than fish when the light is good.

Remember, bones aren't trout. Making a good cast to a brown laying behind a rock in the river is one thing. Making a cast to a bone that is cruising for dinner is another. Work on being FAST. From the time you spot them, the time you have to plan and execute your cast is measured in seconds. Usually single digits... Doing a lot of blind casting is probably never going to be all that productive on a big flat unless you are an exceptionally lucky person. It's also going to usually have you in a bad position when opportunity presents itself. Save your arm. Watch the water and be in a ready position to cast. Think of your arm as the hammer pulled back on your Ruger Single Six. I am constantly making "mental" casts as I am hunting them. I keep track of wind, distance, current, etc... It's hard to explain, but it's basically... "If I saw one by that dark patch, its X feet away, wind is crossing from the left, current is moving away from me..." It's a reflex thing that you develop over time. You'll do this a million times a day (some people never do). This way, when I see one, I make a quick mental adjustment for where he is compared to my "preloaded" plan, and fire away. It sounds idiotic, but it works. If you wait to do this till you see one cruising by in front of you, you're behind the 8 ball.

If you think bonefish are addictive, wait till you catch a few permit...
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