Here is a pic from last season on the bay, during a “Blitz.” Typically, we see the blitz in the spring and the fall. During the dog days of summer, we find most of our fish on structure. But when the bait is schooled up in the bay, you can bet there is going to be a blitz at some point!
In early May as bait starts to trickle inside the bay, most of the bass are in small schools and even solo when the very first scouts arrive. They are looking for whaterever bait they can find. Often, I find bass on small green crabs. As we get into warmer days in late May, there is both a Spring Blitz happening and also a “crabbing.” When the tides are low and the waters are dead-calm, if you put your time in along the flats and work up the cuts, you will see striped bass crabbing in inches of water. Many times over the years, I have seen schools of a dozen or so striped bass actually tailing in the shallows.
Most people do not fish the spring crabbing because it is very challenging and a good morning is only a fish or two. A crazy morning might be six fish. But it is very rewarding and a lot of fun. I do not guide much for crabbing striped bass when there are topwater blitzes going on out in the bay. Tons of bass and bait and a good morning can be 15-30-50 or more striped bass caught and released on light tackle or fly gear. It is insane fun fishing! But if you can close your eyes to all that, and open them to other rhythms happening in the bay, you can witness and fish some very cool crabbing.
CRABBING TECHNIQUES FOR FLY FISHING
- Floating Lines Only
- Crab patterns or bonefish bitters patterns
- Long leaders
- Poke up a long cut, engine off, and very slowly pole your boat
- Watch for dimples right up against the flats along eel grass beds
- Watch for tailing fish, bass tip down to suck up crab, their tail breaks water for a split second
- Make long, delicate casts
- Land your pattern nearby but not on top of crabbing striped bass
- Watch for the bass to tip down and suck in your fly, pause, then strip set
- The flat will explode with panic as all bass run for deep waters
Give crabbing a try this season and expand your fun fishing the bay. It will teach you to quietly observe the subtle patterns and rhythms of nature on the water that most people never see.
Capt. David Bitters, BAYMEN, www.baymenlife.com 29 Years Guiding The Bay
*BOOKING 2023 & 2024 FLY FISHING & LIGHT TACKLE ON THE MA COAST*