Rocky Mountain High…on the flats

Ryan Schmidt, Vail Colorado

My cell phone rang on July 4th and it was Celia from Firstline Fishinig in Chatham, MA. She said “hey Capt. I got a tough one for ya”. Since I book many charters out of her shop I said “bring it on”. She explained that she had a client who was interested in fly fishing the flats of Cape Cod for stripers, but he is a personal chef working in Chatham for a family and is only here for two weeks and doesn’t know what day he may have off to hit the water. I told her no worries send me his information and I’ll make something work. I called the client and right off I knew it would be cool to get him on the water. His name is Ryan Schmidt from Vail, Colorado. Turns out Ryan is not only an awesome chef, but also a fly fishing guide offering guided float trips on the upper Colorado River and surrounding creeks.coastal-zone-rod-bend We exchanged a few phone calls trying to figure out the best window to get him on the Pesky Pole. He gave me a few possible dates and we picked July 9th as his best option. The plan was to pick him up in Chatham and hit the Monomoy Rips and surrounding flats.   We met at the lookout parking lot right in front of the historic Chatham Light House. As luck would have it we had a strong southwest blow of 20knots by 5:00 am. Damn it! Really this is gonna be a tough day, I thought to myself. After storing his fly gear in the boat we headed to the ramp. As we were backing down the boat I just had one of those feelings that this is not the best location for him to truly experience what Cape Cod has to offer a visiting fly fisherman. I asked Ryan if he was game to change locations. His reply was “you’re the captain”. I explained that the tide in Barnstable Harbor would be going out and it would be the same direction as the wind so we may have a better chance there. We jumped in the truck and headed. 30 minutes later we were dropping her into the boat ramp. As I predicted the seas were flat and this was going to work much better. On the trip over I told him about my client the day before who landed 18 stripers on the fly with a few fish in the 25”-30’ range. His answer was, “well let’s see if we can top that”. I like his style. Our first drift was on a flat inside the harbor that has a horse shoe shaped rip with birds working the leading edge. After almost an hour of working sand eel patterns on a sinking 10 weight set up we had no takes. It was time to relocate. I moved further out to a large flat that extends almost 3 square miles to the east. I decided a change of fly would be in order and started looking for something smaller with a hint of pink or purple as that combo was working the day before. As I was looking through my box Ryan pulled out a fly and said, “how about this one”? It had some white and a few strands of pink. It didn’t look like much trust me, but I said sure why not. Well he was right on as the fish started to slam his offering. Right away he was amazed at the power of striped bass as even 18”-20” fish gave him strong runs on his gear.coastal-zone-small-striper It didn’t take more than 2 hrs to catch around 15 fish and I reminded him the single angler record for the season was 18 fish. His focus intensified right then and it was game on! We drifted in 5-7’ of water and the sun was getting high enough for me to jump up onto the top helm and look for cruising fish. As the tide dropped we were losing water, but we quickly found a seam that the fish were using to feed as the flat emptied. It was awesome I would spot fish and Ryan would place his fly in the perfect spot. As the tide kept dropping the fish kept feeding. With each fish that he boated I would shout out a number, “that’s 19….that’s 22…that’s 25”. He not only beat the single angler season record he shattered it. The conditions for sight fishing were perfect. Ryan kept marveling at the gin clear water on the flats and how he never expected it to be like this. I get this comment often and most visiting anglers say that they never expected the beautiful clear water. I call these fish the “bonefish of the north”. At around 12:30 I asked Ryan when he needs to be back in Chatham. To my surprise he said no later than 2:00pm! He was on fish number 27 at that point and I mentioned that we were losing water and time quickly. The last thing I wanted was to get stranded on the flat as the tide dropped. He was determined to hit 30 fish and I mentioned well you have a half hour to get em to the boat. His precision casting made it work. He had 2 more fish to the boat in 15 minutes. Man this dude was on fire! I kept giving him the signal that it was time to roll out and he would give me the “one more cast” look. Quick look of my watch and I was in mid sentence to hit the barn when he yelled “fish on”! He did it! 30 fish caught and other strikes missed or pulled free. We drifted off the flat, lowered the motor and headed to the ramp. It was exactly 2:15pm when we pulled off the road to unload his gear. What an awesome day and the right decision on my part to relocate. It doesn’t always work out that way, but on July 9th 2014 it sure did.

In Colorad look up Ryan at; Ryan Schmidt, Core Creek Flyfisherman, fishnchef@gmail.com and 970-390-7943.

In Chatham look up Celia & Mike at; www.Firstlinefishing.com and 508-208-2265.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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