While many anglers simply cast a line hoping that a fish will come around, sight fishing is the practice of looking for fish with your eyes, then casting directly to them.
It’s a unique style of fishing that seems to have more in common with stalking game than traditional angling. Sight fishing takes patience and practice, but when done right, it can be one of the most enjoyable forms of fishing you’ll ever experience.
Wear Polarized Sunglasses
Polarized sunglasses are made to eliminate glare, making it easier to spot fish in the water. These are popular apparel choices for anglers of all types, and they are an absolute must-have for sight fishing.
Limit Noise, Especially Thumps on the Boat
Many anglers will whisper and speak in hushed voices for hours, then they’ll drop their rods, stomp their feet, and make all kinds of racket. The noise on the boat reverberates through the water, scaring off fish for miles around, so keep movement and noise to a minimum.
Practice Accurate Casting
Accurate casting is essential for sight fishing. Once you spot a fish, you need to place your lure in the perfect position, or your trophy will keep cruising along. Take the time to practice casting with the rod, reel, line, and lure that you will be using during sight fishing. Whether this is a fly rod or a spinning reel, accuracy will lead to more fish in the boat.
Watch for “Tailing” Fish
One of the most noticeable indicators for fish is the action of “tailing.” While feeding, species like bonefish, redfish, and permit will have their mouths to the floor, with their tails up higher. In shallow water, you will be able to spot the tails sticking up over the surface, advertising the presence of your fish.
Keep Your Distance
If you can see a fish, a fish can see you (or at least the large silhouette and shadow of your boat), so you need to keep your distance and not get too close. Some anglers want to get close so they can see the fish better, but a long cast is a better choice. Keep your distance and fish will stick around for you to catch them.
Present Multiple Lures and Baits
If you sight a fish, deliver a perfect cast, and put the lure right where you want it, but nothing happens, what should you do? Many anglers will move on; after all, that fish isn’t biting, so let’s go find another one that is. However, taking the time to deliver three or four different lures or baits to a fish may trigger the strike you are looking for. Don’t give up just because your fish passed on the first lure.
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