Friday, July 7, 2017

Sight Fishing for Birds on the Flat

Fly fishing is undeniably more fascinating when you can see the fish. That's why I love flats fishing. Spring, summer, or fall, there's always something to be sight fished on a LIS flat. One of my favorite species to target on the flat in summer and early fall is a species a lot of anglers consider a trash fish. As you all know, there is not a fish on this planet that I think of as a trash fish. So when I say I love targeting sea robins it shouldn't be that big of a surprise. Sight fishing on the flat for them is some of the most fun fishing you'll ever have.

Yesterday they were busting bait. Not the sporadic, infrequent jumping or busting that is most frequently observed. This was constant, aggressive, loud blitzing by a species often wrongly accused of being a bottom feeder. They would frequently injure large silversides, which would come to the surface and skip along with the orange, brown and white winged goblin right on its tail. The kill strike was nearly always loud and quite spectacular.

Put a sz. 2 chartreuse and white clouser near a busting fish or in front of a cruising fish, it will at least take a look. Often a fish that s a little suspicious will sometimes follow the fly 40-0 feet, often from the time the fly hit the water till the time it gets to your feet. I've had sea robins do circles around me before chasing poppers.

Robins are not really a schooling fish but they do tend to hunt in little packs, the most I've seen at once was about 6.  Yesterday I saw a few schools of three. If you have a buddy with you these fish are really easy to double up on. If not you can still get it done because they tend to follow each other around during the fight and it is not impossible to unhook and lip one fish and immediately catch his buddy without risking killing the other one. Prime example:

Towards the end of my outing I was hammering school bass at the end of a rip and I had a big robin follow one of the stripers in. I quickly unhooked the fish and got it back in the water. the robin slowly circled around me, too close for me to actually use the rod. Using my and I dropped the clouser right on the toe of my boot. The fish came around my left side and started looking for the fly which it had clearly felt fall. I twitched the fly and saw and felt the robin eat my fly right off the toe of my boot. I set the hook with my left hand and pulled the fish right out of the water. That was a real "wish I was being filmed right now" moment.

Next time you're fishing a nice flat and the stripers or blues aren't cooperating, try for some sea robins. They are just so damn fun.


  1. Very catchy post title.
    I remember as a kid we had a camp at Hammonasset and summers were filled with crabbing and fishing. The sea robin was a staple for us kids always providing action.

    1. Thanks,
      Yeah that's not what I started wth but I figured it would be an eye catcher.

  2. In my book the sea robin is a beautiful fish. The action you are getting with them is fantastic. Wish I could have been there to video the action.
    Tie, fish, write and photo on...

    1. They are very unique in this area, almost like a tropical fish. Definitely beautiful.

  3. We caught 2 sea robins this weekend--albeit on Luhr Jensen Krocodile 1 oz spoons while row-trolling. The one I got was big and there was another sculpin right under it as I boated it. I wondered if it was a "breeding pair" with "chicks" nearby haha. My son and daughter caught the other one the same way on their own little fishing outing while I was sailing
    Interestingly, We've caught a number of them on jigheads that look like flies--artifish-al flashy orange bucktail tied to the hook. They go for their own color apparently.

    So far I've not tried to spot them and cast to them--interesting idea. Our home waters are quite turbid this time of year.

    To me they will always be special: when my son was 9 and my daughter was 6, my son caught his first Connecticut fish (lots of skunkings before that!). All four of us were in the little peapod, out rowing around, and we had two rods with us. Suddenly, he felt a load on his rod, "reel it in!" It was barking and flopping around. I really don't know how we didn't capsize and swamp it was so exciting!

    1. Robins are just plain fun. Such a blast on light tackle. Many good memories have been made while catching them.