Learning the Flats
Words by Dave Little, Pics by Warren Cooper & Dave Little
I've been intrigued by this whole 'flats fishing' thing for a while, and have managed a few excursions to the local flats, but the conditions have never been right until this year in early January when I got the opportunity to hit the flats with another recent fly convert, Warren.
The targets were painted sweetlip aka slatey bream or "blue and brown bastards" as they are affectionately known by the northern Swoffers. Getting a shot in at a nice golden trevally, or a black spotted tusk fish was also in the back of our minds as we headed out on what turned out to be a beautiful afternoon.
To say the trip was an all out success would be an exagertion, as while we saw plenty of fish, they were reluctant to eat and stay hooked. But hey, that's why they call it fishing, and if I went out and managed one on my first trip I'd say that the romance of it would be somewhat lost on me.
In saying that, I had tied a couple of Chris Beech's 'flats masters' for trying out on the flats, and they didn't disappoint. My tying abilities are still improving, but they both got eats, so atleast the fish liked 'em!
We put in I don't know how many casts at the blue bastards as we drifted the flats. We (I) spooked a few, got refusals from others, and between the 2 of us, probably did manage half a dozen eats... One of my flats masters even ended up as jewellry for one hungry fish!
Eventually we got out and waded, and we saw more fish on the flat ad in amongst the bombies. I guess I was tempting fate when I saw the irridescent blue of what I thought was a nice tusky in amongst some bombies, but I put the cast in nevertheless. Boy did I get a shock! No sooner had the fly landed and a meter long longtom was scooting across the flats on it's way back to the mainland! But the 8wt held, and after a short but spirited tussle I brought to hand my first site-cast flats fish.
I think the bug has bit, and I am really looking forward to learning more about the flats this year. Thanks for a great day out Warren!