What is sight fishing?
Sight fishing is one of the coolest ways to fish. It is compared to hunting, in a situation where you need see your quarry first before you fire a shot. Generally, the fish enter the flats and shallow bays to feed. The shallow water provides cover for the many baitfish, shrimp and crabs upon which they feed. When sight fishing, your guide will use a 20 foot pole to push the boat forward from a platform above the motor. We will be working water from 8 inches up to 11 feet deep. We will see the fish first before we can make a presentation with a lure, fly or live bait. The fish may be either, cruising, laid up, tailing (rooting the bottom with their tails out of the water), finning (floating over the surface with their tails out the water), or “pushing” a wake.
The first and most important thing when sight fishing, is learning to see the fish or to identify the signs that indicate the presence of fish on the flats. You will not always be able to see the actual fish under the water or a part of the fish – such as a tail or a fin. You may see a wake, push of water, “boiling water” (also known as “nervous water”), a shadow, or a reflection. Most of the fish we target on the flats have silvery scales and colors that reflect the bottom on their bodies -making them very hard to spot for the inexperienced eye. Also, weather conditions play an important role when sight fishing. We need clear/sunny skies in order to be able to see fish over grassy, light colored or dark bottom. Wind is another key factor, the calmer the wind, the more the fish tend to float near the surface or tail in the shallows (fish rooting the bottom with their tails out of the water). With calm winds, it is easier to see pushes of water, “nervous water” or wakes. The down side of calm conditions is that the fish can also see us and detect us better, making them very spooky and difficult to approach for a shot. During windy conditions you will have a harder time spotting fish, but the fish will also have a harder time spotting you. Also, the fish will be more tolerant to noise as the sound mixes up with the waves and the wind. Whenever we face a dark/rainy day, your guide will need to find some clear sandy-light colored bottom in order to have better chances of spotting fish.
Sight fishing requires a high degree of patience and skill. All this can sound very hard to do, but your guide will be there to help you. Your guide has an “educated eye” from years of experience targeting these fish, and he or she will give you the necessary instruction and coaching to spot fish and make effective presentations. A key piece of equipment you must have is a good quality pair of polarized glasses. If you can’t see them, you can’t catch them! That simple. For flats fishing, clear skies, Amber or brown lenses work best. For low light conditions, bronze or yellow lenses work best. Get the best sunglasses that you can afford. A good long bill hat also helps providing shade and cutting the glare.
After some instruction, time on the water, and seeing some examples of your target swimming over the flats – you will quickly pick up on what to look for.
What to Expect
My goal as a guide is to show you a fun time on the water. That comes first over any other fishing aspect. I’m completely aware that guiding is a service business. It is entertainment with fish. I’m calm, respectful, laid back and patient. In other words, I’m not a screamer and like to keep things relaxed while we are fishing. After all, we are going to be spending anywhere from 4 to 10 hours together during a fishing day. Therefore, I’m here to make sure that you have a great laid back time during your time away from home and work. I will patiently guide you through the process of learning and adaptation to the different challenges we will face during any given fishing situation. I will offer as much info and guidance on your technique as you want.
Sight casting for Tarpon, Bonefish and Permit is very challenging and demanding to say the least. We also depend on a wide variety of external factors such as weather, visibility, cloud cover and wind. As a guide, I know the fish whereabouts, weather patterns and usually can put you on plenty of fish throughout the day. However, it is up to you to properly cast to them. Mother Nature is beyond human control, Sometimes the fish are just not around or weather conditions will limit our opportunities, and I only will be able to show you a few fish. Under such conditions our opportunities could be limited. Making those limited opportunities count will be, in a high degree, up to your casting ability. That being said, whether you are a fly fisherman or spin fisherman, You need to have your casting skills polished long before your charter. Don’t make the mistake to show up to the dock unprepared or you will be wasting precious time and money. Please practice your casting before your charter, this can not be stressed enough.
When sight fishing we do not judge our day by what we have caught, but rather by how many fish I have been able to put in front of you for a shot.
My job as a guide is to match up your expectations with your angling level. Tarpon, Bonefish, Permit and Redfish require skills and casting ability. If you are completely new to flats fishing, there are other species that we can fish for that are easier to catch and can keep you busy throughout the day. Jacks, Ladyfish, Spotted Trout, Mangrove Snapper and Sharks are usually easier targets always willing to cooperate and keep you busy. At the same time, you will start working on your casting and fish spotting ability in order to later target the more “glamourous” species. If you are looking for action, while fishing with your little kids or with a “non-fishing” partner, this is the right choice rather than going the “hard way”.