Sight fishing is how I get my fix. A giant caught blind casting or jigging doesn’t give me the same buzz as a fish that I saw eat, even if it’s half the size.The sun is beating down on your neck, your feet are starting to ache from the hard plastic of the kayak underneath. Your eyes are straining to see through the water and searching for any sign of movement. A shadow starts to slide across the flat and you make a cast, trying to plan for it’s trajectory.
The shadow sets it’s sights on your lure and you start to reel faster, trying to get the shadow fired up. It picks up speed, you reel faster, a small plume of sand kicks up from its tail as it makes the final burst of speed to slam your lure and you come tight. You try to stop your hands from shaking as you start to reel. Another trophy falls victim to your sight fishing skills.
Use these tips to increase your chances to sight cast to a fish that makes your knees shake. If I can get you addicted to big fish in skinny water, I’ll have done my job.
Keep a Weather Eye
The trickiest part about sight casting, especially when first starting out, is, well, seeing the fish. The tip I always give people who are starting to learn the jedi ways of seeing fish on the flats is don’t look for fish. No really, you’ll never see them. Instead of looking for fish, I tell people to look for shadows, movement, lines, or anything that isn’t the same as the sand bottom.
Also, trust your peripherals. There’ve been countless times when I’ve thought I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and when I look, nothing’s there, but waiting to see what caught my eye usually tips me off on something, whether that be current that I didn’t see, a hole or trough where fish might be moving through, or an actual fish that suddenly appears right where I though it should.
A good pair of sunglasses is crucial to seeing fish. Without the right pair of shades, you really don’t stand a chance. Because not all glasses are the same, don’t waste time with a lesser pair, go right for the best. I wear Costa Sunglasses’ Rooster frames with green mirror 580G lenses because they let me see right through the glare and spot more fish than I would with any other lenses. They’re the best I’ve ever worn, hands down. The green mirror tint works best for inshore waters and is leaps and bounds better than any other lens color. Get fishery-specific lenses and you’ll never go back to grey.
Sweet Paddle Dude
Standup paddling with a kayak paddle will do, but if you’re going to put in some serious time standup fishing, then upgrade to a SUP paddle. A SUP paddle will give you more leverage and more control when battling big tides or wind and you’ll be faster if a school pops up farther away.
I like Aqua Bound’s Challenge SUP paddle, because it can adjust whether I’m kneeling, standing or standing up on my cooler. The carbon shaft and fiberglass blade is tough enough to handle a beating and it is light enough that I don’t feel it even after hours on the water. The bent paddle blade is more efficient than a straight shaft and will help you cross channels more easily to move from flat to flat.
Stake it Out
Anchors have their place, but if you’re in skinny water then you need to switch to a stakeout pole. A stakeout pole will be faster at securing your boat than an anchor and when you see a fish you don’t want to get blown out of casting range.
You can stakeout through a scupper hole, but that’ll likely get in your way. Rig up your stakeout pole on a short leash of paracord, 3-5 feet and keep it ready in a paddle holder or underneath your seat. When you see a fish you’ll be able to stab the pole into the sand and drift a few feet, which will give you time to pick up your rod and be ready to cast securely.