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June 2002
Silver Spoons
August 2002
Starting Flats Fishing
September 2002
Beginning Gear - pt. 1
October 2002
Beginning Gear - pt. 2
November 2002
The Courteous Angler
Dec 2002/Jan 2003
Reflections at the
Tide Change
February 2003
Jerkbaits, another look
March 2003
How important is presentation?
April 2003
When to fish...?
May 2003
New ideas
September 2003
Flats Fishing 101 (recap)
December 2003
Another flats fishing year ends
Jan - Feb 2004
New year, new opportunities
March 2004
Flats fishing on any budget
August 2004
Special Request - Hurricane Report
How important is presentation?
Mar 2003

The importance of presentation stuck in my mind as a fishing buddy mentioned it as we sat around a campfire. It seems to go without saying that presentation is what successful flats fishing is all about. Gently placing a select bait or lure in the zone a predatory game fish will be drawn to it. The enticement increased by the action the angler imparts to the offering. Natural, non-threatening, realistic action that will make the target fish take the bait, hook and all.

Certainly this is a big part of what fishing is about. That being the case we should all be practicing our presentation. Making our offering irresistible. Is presentation the most important tool for the angler. For this article please assume that a having all the best skills is the goal. Along the way to acquiring the skills though what should the anger do?

Locating fish
So if presentation is not the most important what is? Maybe the most important skill for the angler to develop is to find fish. If you think about this just a bit you can see how important locating fish can be. It does not matter how much you finesse the equipment and the terminal tackle if no fish is available to notice it. This sounds simplistic and maybe goes without saying. Still, my first hurdle in improving my fishing success was knowing where to fish. This is of course an age old question asked by any prospective angler. As you pass leaving the water, those coming in will usually ask where you were fishing. They will also ask what you caught your fish on assuming you did catch fish.

Asking is one way of locating fish. It is not always productive as fishing spots tent to be a little secretive. You will find many anglers though who are willing to share some knowledge about local fishing spots. This can be your best source. I happened by a man fishing off his dock and we struck up a conversation. He told me that near his dock and around a bend of this tidal creek would be some excellent chances for snook if I were to be there at dead low tide. I fished several spots and made sure to return later in the day as the tide was at the lowest and had one of the best snook catches ever.

Finding snook
Snook can be (not always) easier to pinpoint as some of the habitat that they frequent is clearly visible. Shallows with structure or grasses for crashing bait fish that are forced out in the open as tides fall. If an angler works mangrove edges, grass or reed points, downed trees and shallow creek inflows there is a chance of finding a snook. Don't forget bridges on the shadow line at night.

When an angler sets out to fish the flats whether in a skiff, paddle craft or wading it is easy to identify mangrove islands, exposed oyster beds and cuts. But looking out over an expanse of water there may be few clues on all the water between. Where are the fish located in all that water?

Finding reds and trout
That was a question on my mind as I looked for reds and trout. It is easy to look across a flat and be overwhelmed. There is no guarantee that fish can be found but having some ideas about where to look will improve your chances. There are subtle changes to look for. They are visible at different stages of the tide. At low tide you can identify sandy potholes, shallow grass flats, deep holes and cuts that provide access for predators. At high tide you will find shallow lagoons or marshes that are open to game fish seeking a meal. During tide changes you will see current patterns that can carry bait into the mouths of waiting fish.

Wading more
One of the anglers I have learned the most from has proven to me that one of the best ways to find fish on the flats and learn a body of water is to wade it. His skiff or kayak are used mostly to go to a flat to get out and wade. Wading allows you to determine the bottom consistency, water temperature, the subtle changes in water depth and current flow. You are also working the water more thoroughly as you wade through compared to drifting faster. While you can use a trolling motor, poll or paddle to move your boat (powered or paddle) you are more precise when wading. You know exactly where you are when you feel that bump and can get a cast back in exactly the same area.

It is important to note that wading has certain risks. You should wear proper foot protection for the area. Sandals are not usually the best foot wear. Be careful of the current and tides if you are without a support vessel. Be cautious of stingrays (shuffle your feet).
I have no foolproof formula for locating fish. I have not met anyone who can locate fish on any given body of water. The suggestions I provide here are basic and there are anglers that have been at it longer and more methodically than myself who could offer more insight.

I know that fishing is more fun (a little anyway) when you catch fish. There are skills I can not improve without actually finding fish. I can tell more about my presentation if there are fish to reject my offering than just retrieving in a swimming pool. I have to have a fish on the line to learn how to play them effectively. There will always be a learning curve to finding fish even on frequently fished flats.

It would be hard to say that any one aspect of fishing is more important than another. However, I am willing to say that the without a doubt, the most important thing to improve your success at fishing is... go out and do it.

If you have any suggestions on locating fish pass that you want to share with others send them to me. As well, if you have other fishing tips, submit them for additions to the new
'Tips and Tricks' section of the site.

Let me know how what you think.

Good Fishing,

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