Sight Fishing for bass is normally associated with bedding fish during the spawning period. This can be a very productive method during this time period but it can also be used at any time the bass are cruising the shallow water. This is another finesse fishing technique that requires you to be a bit on the stealthy side.
The water in the shallows is almost always cleaner and much more clear then fishing in the depths. The trick is to see the fish before the fish sees you. There are many times when this shallow water technique will produce fish when the deep water bite slows or stops completely.
As in any finesse fishing, you need to use as light of line as you can get away with and present your offering to the bass without spooking them. It does not matter what you are throwing to these fish, if you spook them you are not going to catch them.
In order to fool the fish while sight fishing, you need to always be one step ahead of them. I really like to use the lightest gear possible to effectively execute this technique. I prefer a medium light powered spinning rod with a very fast tip. I will also use a medium powered bait casting set up when using a small jig or Texas rigged creature bait. The rod should be matched for much lighter line then you may normally use.
I always use a high quality smooth action spinning reel. As with any set up, the reel should always be balanced with the rod. When using a bait casting set up, I go with a smooth action reel as well. The reel is the most important component part of your set up.
As with any finesse fishing technique the line is also very important. I will go with 8 pound mono and even sometimes scale down to 6 pound if the conditions and the fish demand it. Always pay attention to what the fish is telling you. If you are not getting any strikes and you are spooled up with heavier line, it may be time to try a smaller test.
There are many different types of lures that can be sight fished effectively. Tube jigs, plastic worms of all shapes and sizes, jig and pig or jig and plastic combos and even crank baits or stick baits along with poppers are all very good choices. Again, let the fish tell you what they want and adapt to their demands.
How to do it
There are some important things to consider when sight fishing. Like I said previous, you need to be able to see the fish before the fish sees you. This is very important!
Stand in the bow of your boat with the sun at your back if at all possible. This will make you harder to see. Keep your trolling motor on a slow speed and keep it running. By switching the motor off and on while you move along the shore line you are sending way too many sound waves that will put the fish on alert and you will spook them. A spooked bass will not be caught!
When you see the bass, throw your bait 10 or even 20 feet in front of it. Let it settle to the bottom and just as the fish approaches your bait shake the rod tip and slowly move it away. Keep a close eye on how the bass reacts. Again, let the bass tell you what it wants. If you land the lure to close to the fish, you most certainly will send it swimming away with out your lure.
Now, you may be asking yourself “how am I ever going to see these fish? “. The key is a good set of quality polarized fishing glasses. Keep a close look out for dark spots on the bottom and always watch for movement.
Getting a bass to bite while you are sight fishing can be a challenge but once you start to figure out what the fish wants it becomes much easier. This is much like hunting, you need to stalk the fish as if it is your prey and target the area it most likely is going to be next. A game of cat and mouse can make for an interesting and fun day on the water.
This technique is very effective during the spawn but never rule it out during other time periods. There are always fish in the shallow water and they can sometimes be big ones! Get yourself some good glasses and start the hunt!
One more cast…
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