See them, but don’t let them see you

About the author

Aaron Martens

Aaron Martens

Aaron Martens is the 2005 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year and a four-time runner-up in the Bassmaster Classic. He's widely regarded as the best natural angler in the Elite Series.

Being from Southern California, I grew up sight fishing on deep, clear reservoirs. It’s something I enjoy doing. Right now, most of the country is either in a full spawn mode or soon will be. As with most techniques, there are some tricks that will help you be more successful with sight fishing.

First and foremost, you need to find ways to keep the fish from knowing you are there. Fishing for sight fish that don’t know you are there makes them infinitely easier to catch. Here are a few tricks I recommend to keep the fish unaware of your presence.

Clothes

Before you ever get to the lake you can start improving your chances to catch bed fish. Do this by dressing for the job. Fish can see quite well. Although biologists say they don’t see colors like we do, most biologists agree that they do see color. That means if you wear a bright colored shirt against a natural looking background like trees or a light blue or gray sky, something is going to look wrong to the fish. I recommend dull colors like gray, light blue, brown, tan or military green.

Eyes

This is a tip I hesitate to give away, but hey, for my blog followers, I’ll give up just about anything.

Most creatures in the animal kingdom are very eye sensitive. For example, there are many animals that will attack simply because another animal makes eye contact with them. In the eyes of other creatures, animals can see fear, dominance and life. Bass are no different. I often wear light colored Kaenon lenses when sight fishing. These lenses don't completely hide my eyes, so I take extra precaution by pulling my wide-brimmed hat down as low as I can and cupping it around my eyes. That does two things. First, it gives me better vision by preventing extraneous sunlight from creeping in around my glasses. Second, it keeps the bass from seeing my eyes. Overkill? Maybe, but I’ll take every advantage I can get.

Movement

Once you’ve begun to match the background by wearing dull colors and have hidden your eyes, the next thing you need to do is limit your movement. Don’t make any big movements and keep your hands and arms between your body and the fish while you cast. This creates a consistent silhouette for the fish to see. Flailing arms and hands to the side of your body change the silhouette the fish is seeing and alert them that something is wrong.

Distance

Finally, fish at the greatest distance from the fish that still allows you to see it. You may not be able to see it all the time or even most of the time. Look for the windows in the water that allow you to see the fish. The further you can get from the fish, the better chance you have of catching it.

There are definitely plenty of bedding fish out there for which these details don't matter. They’ll eat just about anything you throw on their bed. For the rest of the fish, though, be stealthy, sneak up on them and see them but don’t let them see you. 

As a side note, I’ll give you my favorite baits for sight fishing. I use two baits almost exclusively. The first is a Roboworm Zipper Grub and the second is a Roboworm 4 1/2- or 6-inch straight tail worm. I almost always use Sunline Shooter or FC Sniper fluorocarbon line, and I’ll choose the line weight based on the obstructions in the area. I opt for heavier line for fish that are near dock pilings, brush piles or other cover. I like lighter line in more open water.

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