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Sight Casting for the Blind by Mike McBride

Moderator: Crank-B8

Sight Casting for the Blind by Mike McBride

Postby cnull » Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:41 pm

One of the most thrilling things we can do with a lure is stalking and casting to single large fish. Sight casting, in its purist form, means throwing to fish that we can clearly see. For the non-purist in you, we don't always have to actually see a fish to know it's there. Even though blinded below the surface by poor water clarity, surface chop and glare, we can still target individual fish with a little vision. The "vision" we need, however, often calls more upon our ability to "envision". We are given many subtle signs on the water and interpreting them correctly can change our day. Let's look at two recent examples where educated blind casting paid off, then throw out a few other things we can be on the lookout for.

Two recent days in the Laguna Madre re-affirmed the effectiveness of strategically stalking specific signs rather than stumbling around. Day one found us standing knee deep in an eerie, surrealistic fog. It was actually beyond fog. The world as we knew it was reduced to little more than a personal blanket of vaporized White-Out and spooky was not the word. It was the day before a full moon in pre-norther conditions, and although the elements all seemed in place for some aggressive activity, it just wasn't going to happen. Predators were not out preying and were doing their best to go undetected. However, occasionally a mullet or two would accelerate a few feet for no apparent reason. Baitfish are some of the best indicators we have and watching their antics is a whole science of its own. Even in a no feeding situation, bait can often find themselves too near a predator and instinctively skitter out of the way whether they are being chased or not. Mullet changing their attitude when crossing the same general area can indicate something is lurking below they don't like. In tough conditions, putting a lure right on them can be critical. Subtle bait movement this day betrayed the location of a few good fish, including the one pictured here that pulled the Boga right at eight pounds.

Day two happened two days and some fifty miles apart. This time it was small wakes rather than bait that exposed single fish. Wakes are a glaring indicator but all wakes are not created equal. Scattered reds were waiving their little blue tails near the bank and their humps of water were easy to see. A redfish will cut a perfect form as their bulbous heads push a horseshoe like wake. Trout are usually not quite as child-like and can be much harder to see. Their wakes are usually more delicate and "V"-like and rarely leave a streaming trail like their football headed friends do. Chances are always good that a nice trout or two can be cruising behind redfish, and by looking closely, every now and then a push of water appeared that looked suspicious. Feathering a Corky to land it flat several feet in front of harms way worked. Pictured here is another nice specimen that was surgically plucked with a well placed cast.

There are of course many things to look for that can help us identify cast-able targets, but patience is something we will always have to take with us. The larger trout we are looking for are often solitary hunters and that's exactly what we need to become when we hunt them individually. We may only get a few legitimate shots per day, perhaps none, but the rewards can be big and are directly proportionate to focused effort. When we get right down to it, the lack of focus causes many of us to lack results no matter how we are fishing. Here are few other basic signs we can zoom in on.

Bait discussions are huge, but there are a few standard flags we don't need to pass up. Small pods of head to head mullet on the surface can signal that something is on their tail and is always worthy of a few cast. Menhaden, on the other hand, will often do the opposite, parting and leaving a hole where a predator is swimming among them. Baitfish leaving the water can be either for fun or frantic, but watch closely how they react when spooked and it becomes easy to see if the threat came from a shadow above or below.

Mud boils are another common and well deserved target but are also commonly misjudged. They can be caused by anything from bait to groups of fish rooting to single fish darting away from a threat. A red or large trout, as opposed to mullet, has enough tail power to displace deeper and usually darker sediment when feeding or blowing out of a hole. A mud boil is a simply a vapor trail that can often mean the fish is not there anymore, but we can often determine what it was and which direction it went by walking slowly and avoiding detection. If they're feeding they may be too busy to notice you. If spooked they may not have gone very far.

Slicks are another clear indication of game fish but can also be some of the most frustrating signs to work. Without killing a tree to discuss all of the possibilities, let's just try to keep it simple. The ones we want for single fish are small and hot. In a vast amount of liquid, that little plume of oil on the bank or over structure just told us where we should be. There are uncountable ways to see high percentage areas to cast if we just look, but these are just a few small examples to get us thinking about using a rifle approach rather than a shotgun.

Far removed from the 'numbers' game, stalking single fish does not have much to do with fishing for food. The adrenaline of anticipation feeds us well in other ways however. Each precise cast seems to satisfy some of that strong primordial hunger we all have to sneak up on nature and conquer something. Like the difference between listening and hearing, looking and seeing are two different categories of perception. Knowing what we are looking for makes it easier to pull what we came for. We may not always see the fish, but we certainly don't have to be blind to opportunity.

Speaking of opportunity, when we are blessed with success, let's remember that we don't always have to eat our opponent to be the ultimate victor. What are we going to do with a 7 or 8 lb trout anyway? They are too small to mount and far too rare to waste on grease, so let's try not to be blind in other ways. Consider cherishing that Kodak moment every chance you get. We can get them if we'll try. We just gotta go do it. See you there….
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