Friday, May 13, 2011

Sight Fishing, A Way to Catch Larger Fish.

Over the past year or so, I have discovered the magic of a term known in the fly fishing industry as "sight fishing".  I first gave this method a shot the day after Landon Mayer gave a presentation at our local TU Chapter.  he talked about seeing the fish open their mouths to take the fly, and seeing huge trout in water that everyone else passes by.  I thought to myself "this can't be true".  I had to give it a try.  So, I set out on a mission; become good at seeing fish in the water.  After a series of "practice runs", I finally started to see results.

My first fish caught while sight fishing was a small cuttbow trout out of the Poudre River, about 10 inches long to be exact.  I was discouraged, but we all have to start somewhere, right?  So I continued to hone my skills, waiting for the moment of my encounter with the trout of a lifetime.

About a month later, I was fishing on the Poudre River with my dad, and good friend Steve Thrapp.  Steve is a master at fly fishing for large trout, so I wanted to prove to him that I could catch big fish as well.  My dad and I fished long and hard throughout the day, with only a few smaller fish in the 14" range brought to net, while Steve was pulling in 18"+ fish just about every 15 casts.  Frustrated, I began to walk back toward the car.  On my way, I stopped to look at a section of the river where I had just seen a commotion on the surface.  When I arrived at the water's edge, I began putting my sight fishing knowledge to work. I knew that it wasn't my fly choice that would matter so much seeing as large trout eat just about anything, but more the drift that had to be perfect. As I scanned the water, I noticed a white flash along the bank; a feeding trout.  I could tell by the size of the mouth that this was a good fish, so without hesitation, I worked a few yards of line out the tip of my rod.  After a few drifts, I finally put the fly right in front of him, and watched as he took the imitation with confidence.  I lifted to rod, and the battle began.  Approximately 15 minutes later, this bad boy came to net.

He measured at about 19" long, and had to be a solid 2 pounds.  As you can see, he was a brilliantly colored male, all ready for spawn.

Ever since that day on the water, I have come a believer in sight fishing, and hope that all of you will give it a try sometime.  A good exercise to try when on the river in order to train your eyes is this:

  • Start at the end of a run, and find a large rock, piece of vegetation or something else on the bottom, and pretend that it is a fish
  • Stare at the item for a minute or so, allowing your eyes to "acclimate"
  • Now, look at your feet, and scan your eyes across the bottom until you reach the designated object, and focus on that object again.
This exercise is training your eyes to adjust, and can be the savior on challenging days.  Doing something as simple as this can make spotting, and catching fish (trout especially) much easier than if you were to walk up to the river, and just stare into the water, hoping for a fish to show up.

Overall, sight fishing, in my opinion, is the easiest way to consistently catch more bigger fish, and I guarantee that you will have fun while doing it. So next time you are on the water, give it a try.  You never know what you might find.

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