Sight fishing is one of my absolute favorite ways to catch bass in the spring. There’s something about being able to watch how a fish is reacting to my lure and being able to see them bite.
Of course that’s the textbook way to catch them. Not every largemouth in the lake wants me to get that close unfortunately. Many fish are spooky either because they are afraid of the boat or they just aren’t locked on that well. In tournament fishing we don’t always have the luxury of just moving on to the next one, but using stealth, patience and a keen memory can often put these bass in the boat.
These fish need space. The further away I can be from them the better. Under ideal conditions I’ll often at least be able to see the bed and maybe some movement from how the fish is reacting, but for the most part I count on just fishing them blind.
To help myself out with this, I’ll drop a buoy near the bed if it’s off the bank a ways; otherwise, I’ll take a mental note of the shoreline and mark it that way. Whether it’s a fish I found in practice or one I just stumbled upon, I’m going to need to determine its mood. If it’s a spooky one like I’m talking about here, I want to disturb it as little as possible. So once he’s marked, I’ll give him 5 to 10 minutes to settle down before I make a cast to the bed.
This is where that memory really comes into play – because if I’m not near the bed, he’s not going to bite. Nothing is more frustrating than second-guessing if I’m in the bed or not. On these fish, I always start with a wacky rigged 4-inch Nemesis Baits Sicko. It’s rigged weightless and has a slow fall and subtle wiggle. This little bit of “hang time” right in their face is something they can’t resist. The 4-inch size helps them take the whole package instead of just one of the ends of the worm and leads to more hookups instead of misses.
Often with a properly placed first cast, it’s game over for that fish. If that’s not the case, I’ll keep throwing the sicko and mix in a few other baits before I attempt to move in and re-evaluate the situation. Sometimes when I sneak in to see what’s happening, I’ll notice the fish just not locking on, no matter what. I know at this time I’m probably not going to get it to bite, however that doesn’t stop me from returning later to see if there was a mood change.
Other times, I’ll ease in to the furthest point away I can see the fish and drop my Minn Kota Talons. At this point since I’m anchored, I’m hoping after some time the fish will accept the boat as part of its environment and let me actually sight fish it. From there I’ll make a call on whether it’s catchable or not and have to weigh my options on how long it may take.
Being able to accurately read a fish is one of the greatest strengths a sight fisherman can have.
While being extremely stealthy and blind casting may not be the most fun way to bed fish, it can really cut down on the time it takes to get a fish to bite and also puts fish in the boat that others may be passing over. It takes a little patience to get confidence in it and get your own system dialed in, but it has saved the day for me many times and is a good weapon to add to your arsenal.