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Seeing It Makes It More Exciting

Blog by: David Coulson 7/29/2015
Part of Series: Warmwater Fly Fishing

Fishing is fishing, right?  Not so much in my book. 

There are a lot of ways to fish, where fishing is loosely defined as an attempt to catch fish.  On the forum there are often discussions whether this applies to bow fishing, spear fishing, noodling, or any of the other methods of ďfishingĒ that donít include a pole, line, and hook.  From that narrow view most of the commercial fishing shouldnít be called fishing either. 

Iíve already deviated, as my thoughts are centered on fishing with a pole, line, and hook.  Even there, I donít find all forms of fishing to be equally enjoyable.  Personally, the long rod is my favorite, nearly to the point of exclusivity these days.  But thatís just me.  Others find great joy in their techniques and that's how it should be. There's room for us all.

Even within a type of fishing, be it fly, lure, or bait there are circumstances where how the fish takes and is caught are more pleasant than others.   Iím not near as selective on this point, but I know many who are.  For example many fly fish for carp purely by sight fish.  They like the thrill of stalking a single fish, selecting a fly, making a great presentation, and watching the fish eat.  Iíll admit it is great sport, but Iím also willing to blind cast in order to catch when conditions arenít right for sight fishing. 

Any form of fishing where more than one sense is involved is without a doubt far more exciting.  When blind casting, I am thinking about a lot of things and to some extent vision, sound, and smell come into play. However, the truth is most of the sensations come from feel, the strike and the fight of the fish.  When the fish treats us with aerial displays vision plays a bigger role in fighting the fish.  Letís face it, who doesnít get a kick out of watching a trout, bass, pike, or other species go airborne in an effort to throw the hook?  I know I do.

Even more exciting than an aerial display is watching a fish take our offering, especially when itís from the waterís surface.  Two of the more common methods are top water fishing for the lure angler, dry fly fishing to the long rodder.

This summer Iíve found myself doing more visually enhanced fishing than I have in years past, trout, black bass, carp, and white bass have been the primary targets, and interestingly enough most of it has been sight fishing, rather than ďblindĒ casting top water or dry flies.

Just last Sunday I was stalking grass carp at a pond and noted a number of cruising trout.  It was rather satisfying to cast my ďcarpĒ fly to them and watch the take.  Regretfully, the carp werenít near as cooperative. 

One of my best memories is of a club level bass tournament where we encountered a topwater bite that wouldnít quit.  Using a floating Rapala I won the event.  That is after I calmed down and quit setting the hook until I felt the fish.  Setting up when I saw the fish resulted in me jerking the bait away from the bass.

Carp have been a regular target this year, primarily at Jackson.  Once they started feeding tight to the shoreline, especially along riprap and the dam, it was hard to stay away.  Letís face it, tossing flies to big fish you can see actively feeding is exciting, especially when they honor you with a take.

However, out of all the ďsightĒ fishing this year, I think chasing white bass boils has been the most enjoyable.  When itís right, the catching is unbelievably easy.  Youíre not casting to individual fish, rather to schools of marauding predators that have pushed a school of bait fish to the surface in their attempt to escape the melee. When the action starts, especially when birds are involved, itís fascinating to watch.  And knowing that if you can get close enough to make a cast without killing the action youíll almost always get an immediate hook up isnít half bad either.

Yep, fishing always includes the sense of feel, but when you can add a visual element to the process, itís all the more exciting, be a trout sipping a midge, a bass slamming a floating rapala, watching a carp casually take your fly, an aerial display, or casting to wiper/white bass busting baitfish. Seeing it happen makes it all the better.

Blog content © David Coulson
Blog Comments
anglerwannabe, CO   7/29/2015 1:42:41 PM
I've done flies and a few other things.. but there is nothing like your lure getting blown up on the surface. Buzzbait, frog or hula popper style. When you're throwing lures that large, it gets exciting fast. Even though a small bass will try to eat something it's own size
David Coulson (Flyrodn), CO   7/29/2015 1:57:09 PM
Watching bass bust topwater baits is exciting, but of all the fish I've got into busting surface flies, Northern Pike, especially fish in the mid-thirties and up is possible some of the most fun I've ever had with topwater. Their flat vicious about it, and if they miss, they come back until they get the job done.
D-Zilla, SC   7/29/2015 10:16:09 PM
Pike are a joy to watch feed on the surface. There is a video circulating on the inter-tubes of a pike ambushing a duckling. Worth looking up, every time I watch it without sound I get the jaws music running through my head!
the fishing dj, CO   7/29/2015 10:45:13 PM
I love sight fishing. With carp, there is something about watching those lips drop around your fly that you just cant beat! And watching a big bass inhale your fly or making the perfect drift to a feeding trout and watching them hit the dry, no matter what it is, that sight element really gets the heart going, and makes the experience that much sweeter!
Lloyd Tackitt, TX   7/30/2015 6:04:38 AM
Saturday was the first day I was able to fish in a long time (in the Brazos below Whitney). The water was clear but stained. Visibility was decent. I caught a lot of fish, but one in particular stands way out from the rest. A nice bass, about 24", cruised slowly just above the gravel in about four feet of water. I could see him well enough to know it was a bass but not well enough to make out details. It stopped and hovered, facing into the current, about twenty feet in front of me, maybe a bit less. I cast upstream of it, far enough that my fly would have time to sink to the bottom before getting to the bass. The current was pretty fast at that point because the river narrows down dramatically due to a rock shelf. I watched the bass with one eye and the fly as it traveled down and towards the bass with the other eye. As the fly came within three feet of the bass, it moved over slightly to be directly in line with the fly. Then it took it. It took it gently, not the way I normally see bass take. It just opened its mouth and let it "flow" in. And then the fight was on. The bass used the stiff current to its full advantage and gave a very good battle, going airborne twice. Because I had pinched the barb I was able to release the bass by grasping the fly shank and twisting a bit. I didn't have to touch the bass or pull it all of the way out of the water. I can close my eyes and see that bass against the gravel just like I was still there. I caught other bass, other fish, and not one of them is as clear of a memory. I love sight casting.

Other Blogs in the Warmwater Fly Fishing Series

Walleye Fly Fishing by M. Snider 09.03.21
A primer on how to go after toothy walleye on the fly. With a sinking line and some clousers, you'll be well on your way to hooking these predators on a noodle rod.
Sonar Exploration to Catch More Shallow Fish by M. Snider 06.19.21
In this blog I explain a bit about my technique of scanning sonar in deeper water around a lake to find and mark congregations of gamefish and baitfish to improve chances of catching fish when casting shallower structure.
Ready For Carp by M. McConnell 03.18.19
Fly fishing for Carp is a blast! Whether you're targeting Common Carp, Grass Carp, or Mirror Carp - these fish are sure to test your fly fishing skills.
Carp on the Fly Resources - Part 4 by T. McInerney 10.14.18
Here's the fourth and last of a few blogs highlighting some great resources to get you into carp on the fly.
Carp on the Fly Resources - Part 3 by T. McInerney 09.24.18
Here's the third of a few blogs highlighting some great resources to get you into carp on the fly.
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