What is sight-fishing, you ask? It's one of the most EXCITING ways to catch fish, that's what! Okay but seriously, it does have a true meaning. Sight-fishing means that you see the fish first and try to coax it to eat your fly, bait, or lure. Despite it sounding relatively easy, often times it's not—and that's what makes it so fun. Stalking a stubborn fish and getting it to eat is one of the most rewarding prizes in all of fishing. I've been addicted to it for years and will never tire of it. Doing it with a fly rod makes it even more epic!
Those entering fly fishing from conventional bass fishing are more than likely already familiar with the term sight-fishing. When folks sight-fish for bass it's often done in shallow water when the fish are spawning. That's exactly how I remember the first fish I ever sight-fished long ago as a teenager. I was trolling-motoring along a quiet cove at a Northern California reservoir when I spotted a nice 3-pound largemouth sitting in about a foot of water. Using a 4-inch finesse worm on 8-pound test, I tossed it up on the bank, softly dragged it into the water, and the fish immediately sucked it in. I saw the whole thing. It was cool. I was hooked!
With all of that said, sight-fishing for other species can be quite different—especially those in saltwater. I've literally had to run down the beach as fast as I could to get ahead of an angry school of jack crevalle. I've also had to shift into ninja-mode to sneak up on tailing carp or snook slipping through the briny suds in a foot of water. I love all sight-fishing, but actively finding, pursuing, then catching the targeted species on a fly is my favorite way to go about it.
In general, sight-fishing is most common in shallow waters where the fish are easy to see (and are often the most skittish), but this game of stalking and catching can happen in many locations. From freshwater to saltwater, there's many chances to get in on the fun. Sometimes the window of opportunity for a given species may only be a very small part of the year, but hit it right and you'll be hooked. Keep tabs on the blog as we'll go over some tactics for sight-fishing in the near future!