When fishing the Sod Banks what do you look for ---Breaking fish and scared bait aside, I know that one! Unfortunately most of my salt fishing is at night by boat, but all of the Sod seems pretty much the same, any insight is appreciated!
Wasteman, at night the fish will go into very shallow water. Sod banks that you would not think of fishing during the day can become very good at night. Especially flats with creeks. Look for sodbanks that have creeks feeding into them, deep or shallow. Look for points where rips are formed as current pushes around them. Sod banks that run right next to deep water are good too. That just about covers all sod banks. Guess they can all be productive. Small flies that match bay anchovies or spearing and popping flies are very effective.
Ray gave you a good breakdown. All sod banks are not created equal! Some are very shallow, sometimes dropping to 1ft off the edge, or not at all. I've seen some just taper off into the water and gradually fall away. Like Ray said, the fish will move into those areas well after dark, when they feel safest. And others may drop to 15 or 20ft+ right at the edge. I know of one that goes to 30ft right at the edge. They might hold fish all day long. These deeper ones usually have undercuts in them, and these undercuts can become very pronounced if they are along the outside edge of a bend where the water races by. Fish will hold under them.
The best way to fish the sod is to walk lightly if you're on it. Heavy footsteps will spook the fish. If you're in a boat, the best way to fish is to use a trolling motor. If you don't have one, just stay farther out and throw the engine into neutral. First cast lengthwise along it if you can, hugging the bank. Do that a few times, changing your depth if it's a deep bank. Then fan cast your way around, hitting each spot. If you feel good about the spot and still haven't caught anything, change to a different fly size or pattern and try again. For example, if you were using a deceiver on an intermediate line the whole time and only getting down a few feet, change to a heavy clouser or jiggy, or to a sinking line, and let it sink to the bottom before every retrieve. When you've completely covered every inch of water, move about 50 or 75 ft, and start again. In a boat you can just troll up and down the banks continuously. This is a good technique to use in other spots too, like the surf or on wadable drop-offs.
Using poppers along the sod is fun from now into the summer months. If you're in a boat, cast it right up to the sod edge, usually over a clump of sunken grass or into a cove, let it sit until the rings have disappeared, then retrieve. If you're on the bank, cast it lengthwise down the sod, and again let it sit. Bass will usually find this stationary fly irresistable. At the first or second pop they will slam it.
I never noticed this before but I recently found some tidal streams only about 1-3 ft wide that right as they near the edge of the bank they cut below ground and carve out a hole in the edge of the bank providing stucture and food! Also many sod banks immediately drop off 1-2 feet and then there is a 6-12 foot or so wide flat then another sheer dropof to abot 7 feet or more. oOn these types of banks the fish are either right at th edge of the grass or suspended at the drop. On a high tide you can never fish a bank too close to the edge.
I've found stripers in creeks so tiny that they had to back up to get out of them. A 2ft wide creek with stripers up to 3ft long = the best fishing show around! They were up there feeding on shrimp in the fall. Their backs were out of the water as they were travelling back out to the channel. Never underestimate any creek!
Rob, The stripers move in with the incomming tide. If you have incomming before the sun sets they will start comming in. Their eyes are light sensitive and in the shallow water I have found they will not come in on the high tide during the day unless it it foggy or overcast. After dark they will be there looking for food. Trouble with the sodbanks is the knats, skeeters, and flys and you got to whatch how you use you light when tying on new flies, or lures as not to flash it on the water and spook the fish. If you are going to use a boat at night, go in the area during the day and check out the water and get familiar with low areas and spots you want to try. When it gets dark it is the last place you want to get stuck on an outgoing tide.
For starters, to walk on the bank, IT MUST BE A SAFE BANK! Stay a safe distance from the edge. Plan on wher you will land your fish when approaching a new spot that you will fish.
Have fun and be careful!