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  Sight Fishing, Spotting Them, Before They Spot You by gary Howey

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

August 27, 2021

Team Outdoorsmen Productions Member Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA. With a good bluegill he took while sight fishing along a shoreline (gary Howey Photo)

  If you’re a fisherman, like me, one that goes after all species of fish, you know that shallow water is a great place to take some excellent fish as long as you don’t spook them out of it.

  This is where fish, especially largemouth bass and bluegill found in ponds-small lakes and white bass in the larger reservoirs are easier to locate and if fished properly much easier to catch.

   Even though the spawn this year is finished, it’s not a bad idea to be reminded and ready for next year’s spawn.

  It happens every year, when largemouth bass and bluegill head into the shallows to spawn and when the white bass and other species of fish move shallow to feed on the baitfish stacked up in the shallow water along the shoreline.

  Both the largemouth/smallmouth bass and bluegill are members of the sunfish family and will move shallow in preparation for the spawn, with the males arriving first in order to fan out a nest where the female will deposit her eggs.

  When the female is ready to spawn, she’ll move up to the nest where the eggs will be deposited and fertilized. She’ll then move off to recuperate while the male stays shallow to guard on the nest and the fingerlings once they hatch out.

  As temperatures start to rise, forcing fish to move to deeper water where they’ll find more comfortable temperatures. This isn’t the end of the shallow water fishing, as the fish will return to the shallows in the morning and in the early evening when water temperatures cool.

  Even though the spawn is long over, fishing shallow still works before the sun rises and as it makes its way into the western horizon before the water heats up.

   The reason for this is that much of the aquatic life, the food source for the fish is located in shallow and the predator fish will move shallow to feed.

  This is when anglers probing the shallows water using sight-fishing methods can have excellent luck.

  What is sight fishing, it’s generally a shallow water presentation where the angler spots the fish they’ll be trying to catch Once the fish is located, there are several bait presentations available, allowing the angler to catch the fish.

  Seeing what’s below the water’s surface can be tough as the surface of the water always has a glare, caused by ripples in the water, overcast skies and even the angle of the sun. The most important piece of equipment a sight fishermen needs is good Polarized sunglasses as they help him to locate the fish.  The polarized sunglasses allow us to cut the surface glare, giving them insight on what’s cruising below the surface of the water.

  Not only are they a must for locating the fish, they’re also a big help when it comes to landing fish as you can see the fish, depending on the water clarity long before it reaches the surface, allowing the angler to guide the fish towards the net, allowing the netter to have the net in the right position when the fish reaches the surface.

  When sight fishing shallow water, I’ll cruise off shore out in the deeper water, or walk the shore line, keeping an eye on the shallows out ahead of me searching for fish cruising the area or hiding in the vegetation along the shoreline.

  Over the years, I’ve used all brands of sunglasses, and after many years of fishing found that there’re certain things required in sunglasses. Good polarized glasses help you to see what’s below the surface and keep your eyes from drying out and burning as sun on the water is magnified hundreds of times and can really goof up your vision.

  I like sunglasses that have templates, as they keep the sun, from coming in along the side of my glasses, what’s even better are sunglasses that have polarized glass along the side of the templates, giving me better peripheral vision. A good sunglass retainer or holder is also a good bet as it allows the angler to remove their glasses, holding them around the neck, keeping them safe and out of the way.

  Over the years, I’ve found that the Flying Fishermen sunglasses  

have everything I need for fishing and have used them for years. I’ve been very impressed with the quality, options and the many styles available to anglers and for those that spend time enjoying other outdoor activities.

                                                                                                                              Sight Fishing Methods

  The first thing you need to do is to spot or locating the fish and once I spot them, I’ll back off a little farther in order to keep from spooking them when I present my bait.

  If it’s panfish I’m after, I pitch a Northland Firefly jig or their Bloodworm tipped with Northland’s Impulse

  Make sure that you cast beyond the fish so you don’t spook them and then slowly bring your jig back towards it. Work the bait along the bottom, letting it come to rest from time to time, then twitch it slightly, allowing it to rest on the bottom for a couple of seconds before bringing the bait back along the bottom.

   If a fish moves towards the bait, continue twitching it slightly until the fish either picks it up or becomes uninterest.

  You’ll want to be sneaky as when using this method, approaching the fish cautiously, making sure your bait lands gently and doesn’t come down hard on the surface of the water as shallow water fish are spooky.

  Sight fishing shallow water for bass is much the same as fishing for panfish except that you’d be using larger baits including; jigs, worms or spinner baits.

  A smaller jig and pig combination works well for bass not just shallow, in all water depths, but when using this combination in shallow water, especially when fishing for smallmouth bass, you’re going to have to downsize the bait in order to place your lure in the water quietly and not spook the fish. Smaller jig combinations, like the Fireball jig tipped with Northland’s Impulse are an excellent choice when cast over or to the side of the fish and then slowly retrieved towards it.

  When using a jig, it’s a good idea to let the bait settle to the bottom and then twitch it a couple of times, to draw the fish’s interest in your bait so he’ll move to it, and pick it up.   

  As the bass picks up your bait, you’ll need to rear back on your rod to set the hook hard as fish hooked in shallow water can exert a lot of power when hooked, diving into the heavy vegetation or come flying out of the water as they try to throw the bait, if you want to keep the fish hooked up, you better have to set the hook “HARD” to hook the fish deep or your bait will come flying back at you as the fish unhooks itself.

  Give sight fishing a try and by using these methods listed above they’ll help you to be more successful, as sight fishing is an excellent way to productively fish shallow water.

 The use of polarized sunglasses is a big part of any fishing trip as they allow you to see below the surface of the water, allowing you to spot the fish before they spot you.

  Gary Howey, Hartington, Neb. a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide and an award- winning writer, producer and broadcaster, who in 2017, was inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame”. He developed and was the Producer- Host of the “Outdoorsmen Adventures” television series for 23 years, airing throughout the upper Midwest and available on the MIDCO Sports Network, News Channel Nebraska and other independent markets. Howey is also the Host of the award-winning “Outdoor Adventures” radio show, heard each morning on the drive to work throughout South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.  If you’re looking for more outdoor information, check out www.GaryHowey’  , and , with more information on these pages, Gary Howey’s, Gary E. Howey’s, Outdoor Adventure radio and Team Outdoorsmen Productions Facebook pages.















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