When striped bass begin chasing massive schools of sand eels along the backwaters of the Atlantic Coast, some of the hottest shallow-water angling is at hand. The bountiful eels prefer soft bottoms where they can eventually slink into the sand as a defense mechanism, though they spend a good portion of time fairly high in the water column. During this period, they can be seen meandering in dense schools, sometimes in water no deeper than a beer bottle. Frequently called sand lances too, these baitfish are officially named American sand lances, and when they frequent skinny water at dawn and dusk, striped bass begin the chase. This rockfish activity normally occurs when the light begins to change. While worm hatches get most of the press for vivid displays, it’s common to see impressive numbers of bass making holes on the surface when the lances show up. There are many sand-eel streamer patterns, most notably those tied with bucktail. These are effective and fun to cast due to their slim profile, but the visual aspect of this fishery is absent when you employ subsurface flies. Presenting a well-thought-out surface offering to stripers as they swirl provides an exciting visual dimension.