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More on Bonefishing and Stream Fishing

Posted on September 27 2011

Spotting Fish by Louis Cahill Photography
Reading class. Photo: Louis Cahill

Last week we started a 3-part series of guest posts by Michael Gracie.  The topic is how bonefishing improves your stream fishing, and part one was all about situational awareness.

Today the fun continues – read on!

Reading is Fundamental – We’re Talking Water, not Penguin Classics

You are marching down this creek flat, when all of a sudden the guide whispers “bonefish…12 o’clock”. You look, and see nothing. You lift your sunglasses off your nose, thinking maybe they just need de-fogging. Zippo. Squint a little…nope. You look over at the guide, and he’s waving his arm like a traffic cop signaling go. But you still can’t see the fish!

Ever wonder how a flats guide sees the fish long before you do? Well I’ll tell you, and it’s got next to nothing to do with eyewear.

Saltwater guides always pay very close attention to the tides and currents – which way they are moving, and which way fish might be moving as a result. They look for holding water, traveling water, and where game fish prey might be located. Think points, mangrove outcroppings, rips, and creek inlets and outlets. Yes, they must anticipate where the fish might be, because there is inevitably too much area to cover with casts. But it isn’t just a guessing game combined with luck.

Flats guides are constantly seeking out subtle disturbances on the surface. Once they spot one, they then look to see if that “nervous water” is shuttering consistently, or just a passing fancy. The sign could mean feeding fish just below (or fish moving towards their client), so they train their eyes on that spot until they get further visual confirmation – a tail, a dorsal fin breaking the surface, something scared darting away, or a broadside view of the fish itself (or themselves). Usually it’s a shadow, flash or abrupt change in the water’s color that prompts the cast.

You could, of course, stand across from that hole all day long, swinging your five-fly nymph rig at imaginary trout and hope for an eat. By the way, those fish bolted after the second round, so you’re wearing your arm out in vain. Go find active, feeding fish instead! You know precisely how, as you’ve already had plenty of practice after chasing the elusive grey ghost.

One More To Go

Next week Michael wraps this series up – we’ll see you then!

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