I’m new at fishing the flats for oio. I’ve caught them, though rarely, off sandy beaches and in deep reef channels but am new to stalking them on the south shore flats. The first time I did this, my friend hooked one in a sandy channel as we waded a minus tide but I got blanked. The second time the tide was filling in nicely but I think the sun was too high and the oio had come and gone. Third time’s the charm.
Yesterday, it was overcast and just finished raining in the early afternoon, and the tide had already risen to half a foot. That translated to about 2 feet on the flats. I waded out, casting, while dragging my board. Caught a small omilu on my 3rd cast but figured the slapping sound the board was making would scare the oio so I straddled and cast. 2 casts later I hooked a screamer. I felt kind of foolish sitting on my board in 2 feet of water holding the rod as high as I could so I eventually got off and tried to keep the line off the reef. I was expecting to feel the line rub against the reef followed by me yelling as I got cut off, but I guess the flats don’t have protruding coral heads. The fish made runs of 50 yds or more against the smooth drag of the Calcutta 200 TE bait caster and eventually tired.
Since I had lost the previous 3 oio to coral heads and my friend wanted to make fish cake, I bagged it. I did feel a little bad about killing the fly fisher’s catch and release quarry.
I rested my arms a bit and floated out to a sandy channel and 2 casts later I was on another oio. Before I could decide whether to keep this one it unhooked. Another small omilu and the bite was over even though my fish finder was metering fish on the flats and in the channels. Maybe the tide got too high and the oio made it inside to the shoreline?
I have some theories regarding why the fish bit when and where they did, and even have a secret rig to try out, so I guess I have to go back and gather more data! Click here to see how the experimental rig worked out.