Fly Life Magazine

Feature: Springtime in the Northeast means stripers on the flats


By Capt. Andrew Derr

I am looking forward to an early season for flats fishing in the Northeast this year. Unseasonably mild temperatures, early March Crocus sightings, and the early appearance of bait in our waters has me thinking that I’ll get an early start on the season this year. Whereas last year was quite late, it seems we may have April fishing this year. So I for one am in high gear to finish re-powering and fully dialing in my flats boat.

There is no doubt and no secret that this is my very favorite kind of fishing that we do out on the East End of Long Island. Seeing a 30 pound fish in two feet of water just doesn’t ever get old. Last year we found some really great large fish as well as many fish from the well documented and productive 2011 spawning class. Those fish should be getting to a nice size now (maybe 28″-30″) and I welcome their return from their southern jaunt soon. On a side note, the 2015 spawning class has been reported to be as or more successful than the 2011 class which is great news for those of us concerned with over-harvest of this susceptible species.

I remember when I moved out to the East End almost 10 years ago, we had some stellar April fishing in Peconic Bay and Gardiner’s Bay. There is something quite magical about silently poling the Peconic Bay flats in pursuit of striped bass. So few people are on the bay at that time of year and those that are usually exhibit confusion as to why one would be fishing in such shallow water, so early in the season. Well, there is good reason. Those early fish tend to be hungry from the trip and in turn, tend to have their guard down a touch. All of that makes tricking a large fish in shallow water a little bit easier. And that is really what it’s all about.

Long Island flats bass.

Long Island flats bass. Photo: A. Derr

So in the coming weeks, I will being tying my sand eel and crab patterns and getting ready to splash the Hewes and start the process of scouting. First the small fish come in and can be found in the backwaters over dark bottoms where water is a little warmer and to their liking. Not long after the adult fish will make their way into the bays and flats to satiate themselves on all the good proteins the bay has to offer. I will be waiting, documenting, and learning as I always seem to do. As with most types of fishing, there is always more to learn and this crazy game of flats fishing is no different. I will ply the waters on every tide, wind direction and sun condition and push my skiff here until the water warms too much and the fish go to deeper water. Like a kid on Christmas eve, I am giddy with excitement…

A good one.

A good one. Photo: B. McCarthy

A large fish site fished in difficult conditions.

A large fish site fished in difficult conditions. Photo: A. Derr

Like this Article? Share it!

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.