I’d argue that no skill will help you catch more large fishing consistently than being able to see them in the water. A pair of polarized glasses is obviously the first step here but besides that, you need to train your eyes to spot fish. The best way to do this is by spending plenty of time on the water but there are certain tips to help you speed up the process. Fish have evolved perfectly to their environments and are experts at blending in. You aren’t just going to all of a sudden see an entire fish, instead you will start to see different clues that will let you know a fish is there.
- Shadows. More often than not I see a fish’s shadow before the fish itself. Some lighter colored river or ocean bottoms will allow shadows to be more visible than others.
- Colors. The red stripe of a leopard rainbow or the white flash of a mouth opening and closing. Colors are great indicators of fish being present.
- Movement. Probably the easiest to detect but often times if you are seeing movement it is too late as the fish is spooked and swimming away. But the movement of a fish that is actively feeding means game on!
- Find a clear patch of water. As you look into a river, you will occasionally see patches that are clearer than others. When I find those clear spots, I keep my eyes on it and follow it as it drifts downstream. Often times this patch will stay clear for a few seconds and can reveal something underneath the surface.
- Trust your periphery. When you are scanning the water, if you see a shape out of the corner of your eye or something just seems fishy, refocus your attention to that area. If it was a fish moving, it might show itself again.
- Elevate yourself. You’ll have a better vantage point from higher up. Climb a tree or stand on a rock. Fish as a team and have a buddy spot from above.
- Turn your head. Different angles will have worse glare. Often in the afternoon when the sun starts to drop, if you slowly turn your head to the side you will find an angle that offers substantially less glare.
Picking the right lens color for the conditions you are fishing in can definitely help but to even get to the point where you notice a difference, spend plenty of time on the water, actively looking, and you will train your eyes to spot fish!
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