For months now, we’ve planned out and waited for the perfect day. You know the day. Well into the first warming trend of the year with a full moon close by. We load up and head to the water, just as I did this past week, only to arrive and find that the water is somewhat murky and there just isn’t enough visibility to cruise around and look for the bedding fish you’re after. Many conditions can present difficulty to sight fishing, and these conditions are much more common than is a clear, calm day with crystal clear water. So, what do you do when you can’t SEE the fish you want to sight fish for?
Think Super Shallow
Typically, the clearer the water the deeper the bass are going to spawn, and the inverse holds true for dingier water. When the visibility is low, the bass are going to push up shallower and shallower. This past week, I was finding bass on beds in merely a foot or less of water. I know that even after years of fishing, I still find myself underestimating how shallow these fish can get, leading us a lot of times to be fishing in the right areas but breezing right past the fish that are there. Even in water that wouldn’t seem deep enough to cover their backs, it’s likely deeper than you think, and the fish are likely up there in it. So, I’m making sure to make my casts touch the bank before retrieving. To clarify; think shallow. Think super shallow.
Blind “Sight Fishing”
So, maybe you can’t look at the bass in typical sight fishing fashion. But there are still visual indicators that can be used to “sight fish”, even when you can’t see into the water. For locating beds, especially in and around vegetation, you can usually see holes and pockets to cast to. My usual approach is to make a cast past these holes with something like a weightless trick worm or senko and bring it into the bed. Most times when your bait gets there, you may see a shadow move that gives away the fish. More times than not though, I’m watching the grass. Either the fish will roll, moving the water, or you will see the vegetation move giving away to exact path that the bass is taking. If I fire several casts in there, and I notice movement every time, that bass is circling back and is more than likely going to bite at some point. It’s things like this that can help clue you in to the presence of a fish and that fish’s behavior even if you can’t directly see the fish itself.
This is one of my own failures when it comes to blind fishing for bedding bass. I mean, when we can see them in clear water, we may spend an hour or more on trying to coerce one fish into biting. Yet, when we can’t see them, we tend to only make a cast or two, work the bait through too fast, and move on. These fish aren’t feeding. Any aggression is triggered by making the bass feel as though his or her offspring are threatened. In a lot of cases, it takes time and persistence to trigger that fish, so even in dingy water, fish as though you’re watching the bass and try to visualize what’s happening underwater; forcing yourself to slow down your presentation and be a a little more patient when you find a high percentage area.
This is my favorite time of year to fish, and I’m not going to let slightly adverse conditions ruin my day on the water. These are tips that I’ve learned firsthand and preach to myself. I hope they help you kick off this fishing season in a big way!