B.C. Boat and Sportsmen's Show
Just Get In the Water
What it takes to Sneak up on Fish

Timothy Kusherets

It doesn’t matter whether I fish in a boat, along the shoreline, or on the banks; the best location to fish, when waters run clear, is as close to the surface as possible. If you can see fish then they can see you. That can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. Sure it’s good to know there’s fish to be had but at the same time they’ll be on high alert and off the bite. That’s the trade off when you “really” need to see fish, so how do get around it and get fish to bite? Just get in the water and trust in the rest.

You can see from the boil, true fish sign, in the water that fish are just beneath the surface. There is no way for this angler to get in this steeply banked water without risk to himself; however stepping back from the bank, getting low, and making a flipping cast is virtually the same thing as getting in the water. Make refraction and glare work for you and have faith in your gear and skill to keep fish on the bite and on the end of your line.

It comes down to refraction, especially when fishing waters running crystal clear. There’s only one place to hide from the prying eyes of fish&right on top of them, so to speak.

The closer you get to the surface the greater the refraction, glare, from above and beneath the surface. Consider, fish absolutely do not care what you, your waders, or the bottom of your boat looks like. There focus is primarily centered on moving shadows and predators making them above the waterline. That’s all they care about so if you can hide movements of casting, reeling, and fighting then the rest will take care of itself. There are only three things to worry about after that; water depth and clarity, refraction angle and distance, and faith in your gear. The last seems a little fetched but there is some truth in the point, which we’ll get to after the first two.
Here I’m battling a salmon after getting in the water to hide from a patrolling school. This is an example of making refraction and glare work for a fisherman to keep fish on the bite. Note the smooth surface. The flatter the surface is the closer to the surface you need to get. My advice is not to wade deeper than the waist for safety purposes. Bing in the water coupled with my casting distance, my glasses no longer worked, so I simply took them off. Fish On!

Water clarity, whether fishing fresh or saltwater, has the ability to largely put fish off the bite since they can see well beyond the surface. Even the subtle movements of swaying tree branches put them on high alert, so movements of patrolling anglers makes it that much more difficult to garner strikes. Ironically, the clearer the water is the closer anglers need to get to the surface. Think about refraction in terms of glare. When the sun is out in front of you glistening on the surface it’s nearly impossible to see just beneath the surface; refraction works similarly. Visible light penetration of the surface is largely based on the position of the sun and how intense glare on the surface will be. The lower the angle of the sun the harder it is to see below the surface because light bounces off it at a shallower angle. I know the premise seems insultingly simple but bear with the idea for those many anglers that it escapes. I was one of those once. The shallow position of the sun to the surface makes water act more like a mirror than a clear liquid. When the sun is low, either at the beginning or the end of the day, glare remains the same. The great thing about refraction is that it works on both sides of the surface above and below it. If glare and refraction work the same then it stands to reason the closer an angler gets to the surface the harder it will be for fish to see out of the water (this premise does not apply if you attempt to get directly on top of fish). If you can hide from fish using this insultingly simple trick then they’ll stay on the bite. It doesn’t matter what the clarity of the water is, glare will persist so long as the sun is out (though glare does exist even on cloudy days to a lesser degree). The easiest way to combat this problem is to get, and wear, a pair of polarized glasses and a hat, brimmed hats are the best for preventing peripheral glare from open sides of glasses. When the sun is behind you glare is significantly reduced but still persists even if you can see the bed of the bay, river, or lake. I’m going to beat this dead horse with a brief example.
This is a no-win situation. Anglers are hovering above a school of salmon in crystal clear water. The dilemma is that the anglers have brush behind them, overhanging branches in front of them, and no good places to cast without alerting the stressed out fish directly in front of them. There were hundreds of salmon in front of this group but none of them got a single, legal, hookup. Those who did manage to garner hits were from snagged fish. Where’s the fun in that? It certainly was not worth the effort to even consider fishing here.

One day while drifting the salt in my 18-foot dory I came across a huge school of Coho salmon gravitating about 15 feet down. The surface of the estuary was glass smooth and the tide was slack. I saw the fish first and eagerly cast into the school using a No.3 Vibrax spinner and four-pound test monofilament, let it fall, and reeled in slowly towards the approaching salmon. Just before the two were about to collide, and my impending strike, some salmon saw me and the entire school bolted a few dozen yards away. Since I was drifting and making very little noise catching up to them was not a problem. In my zeal I repeated the same mistake and the school treated me to a repeat bolt. “Man I hated that!” I was too anxious and I knew it. It’s a hard thing to fight when there are so many fish in one spot. It occurred to me that they could see me but couldn’t come up with a way to remedy the problem. What would I do if I was on shore and in plain sight? I’d get down of course and the only way to get out of sight from these fish was to lie down in the boat. Its sounds goofy but I didn’t want to risk spooking the school a third time, so I did. I put out the oars, lowered my anchor a few feet, to slow the drift, and aimed the bow to pass near the school but not over it. Laying down I began flipping my line just a few yards out from the port side, let the spinner fall a few seconds, and began reeling in at about the same speed I had done on the first attempt. The strike came so quick momentarily I thought is was hung up on the side of the boat. The four-pound test was spider web thin but strong enough to bring the fight to the surface. Still wary of the rest of the school I sat up just a little and fought the Coho away from the rest of the salmon before continuing the fight in a full upright position. It’s surprising that such a thin line can withstand the mighty pull of a flailing salmon, which turned out to be a blue-back Coho. It weighed in at 13-pounds, which I am happy to say tasted every bit as good as the fight was.

In the end, there was another component to getting these fish on the bite that hadn’t occurred to me until after the fight.
Chaos abounds here as there are so many salmon that anglers are having a tough time deciding which direction to cast; however, all of them have figured out that wading to get close to the surface hides them from the nervous school of salmon.

Faith in my gear and the way I had to cast, make the presentation, set the hook, and stay low until I could get away from the remaining school to continue keeping them on the bite. Did I “really” need to see fish to know they were there? It all came to bear on that one simple premise we all take for granted when going to church. Faith in our gear and fishing capabilities is something that has to be experienced and not seen to make it work. Anglers, no matter what their skill level, will cast and reel in hundreds of times each trip making even novice fishermen expert at “feeling” the proper way to cast and reel in. Have faith in the gear and the skill behind casting makes all the difference when it comes to fishing waters where glare, and refraction, put fish off the bite.

All of this might seem like an overly simple set of ideas but there are those who struggle with it each and every year. I understand. You know there are fish in the water, you can see them right in front of you, there’s no fishing competition, and you think that the holding salmon will bite onto any line and hook thrown in front of it. Sometimes thinking like that works but most of the time it doesn’t. When it does it’s almost entirely based on luck rather than skill, patience, and trust in what we know as anglers. It all boils down to self-control and how much of it we’re willing to invest into before, during, and after a fishing trip.

Yeah Baby! It’s not the size it’s the quality and this saltwater trout is outstanding! It’s no accident I’m in a pair of hip-waders, though I had been fishing from one of my favorite dory’s. To keep fish on the bite I had to beach my boat, get in the water, and fish the rest of the day that way. Glare and Refraction, it can work for you too!

You know, in almost all my photos of me hitting the water I’ll have on a pair of polarized glasses and a brimmed hat, even during overcast days when clouds and precipitation abound. No matter what happens I know the glare and refraction will always be a part of fishing and prepare for that by taking along the gear, and knowledge necessary to put fish on the hook. It doesn’t mean I’ll always get a hookup, but it does mean that when all the opposing elements are eliminated there’ll be more flailing fish for me than others, which I don’t like, I’d rather share than horde. Everyone should get so many fish on their lines that they spend more time practicing catch-and-release than any other kind of angling. Wouldn’t you like to catch that many fish? You can. Just get in the water and you will.
© Timothy Kusherets, 2004/09

General Articles All Categories
  Article Topics Date
1. Fishing the Tyee Pool in Campbell River Salmon Aug 2013
2. Jigging for Coho Salmon, Tackle Aug 2013
3. TKO ing Big Springs Salmon Jun 2013
4. Spring Fishery Updates 2013 Fishing Area Outlook Mar 2013
5. Fly Epoxy Chum Fry Flys Feb 2013
6. Best Fishing Story of 2012 Feb 2013
7. Salmon fishing outlook for 2013 Fishing Area Outlook, Salmon Jan 2013
8. Fly Tadpoles Flys Jan 2013
9. Fishing Outlook for 2013 Fishing Area Outlook, Salmon, Sturgeon Dec 2012
10. Fly Steelhead Muddler Flys, Steelhead Dec 2012
11. Fly Bacon n eggers Flyfishing, Salmon Dec 2012
12. Keeping a journal Technique Dec 2012
13. Fly Egg-sukin leech Flyfishing, Flys Oct 2012
14. Fly Steelhead Madness Flyfishing, Flys Oct 2012
15. White Lake Fishing Area Outlook Aug 2012
16. Fly Orangesicle Flyfishing, Flys Jul 2012
17. Fly Blue Morrison baitfish Flyfishing, Flys Jul 2012
18. Fly fishing the Estuary (Amundson Thompson Chaser Fly Rod Review) Flyfishing, Tackle Jul 2012
19. Sockeye Strategies Salmon Jul 2012
20. Ultimate Squid TUBE Flys Jun 2012
21. Roche Lake Flyfishing Jun 2012
22. Fly Coho Blue-zer Flys, Salmon Jun 2012
23. Flies Webflyzers Flys Jun 2012
24. Vancouver Island's Esperanza Inlet Halibut, Salmon, Vancouver Island May 2012
25. Fly Purple Peril Flys May 2012
26. Trolling for trout Trolling, Trout Apr 2012
27. Fly Blue Note Flyfishing, Flys Mar 2012
28. Fly Kalumlow Flyfishing, Flys Mar 2012
29. Fly Skeena Scar Flyfishing, Flys Mar 2012
30. Fly Polar Express Flyfishing, Flys Mar 2012
31. Sturgeon fishing in Vancouver British Columbia Sturgeon Mar 2012
32. Strategies for Catching Sturgeon Sturgeon Mar 2012
33. Fly Copper Gammarus Flys Mar 2012
34. Fly Alley Alevin Flys Mar 2012
35. Fly Hilton Boss Flys Mar 2012
36. A Guided Steelhead Trip on the River Steelhead Feb 2012
37. Fly Polar UV shrimp Flys Feb 2012
38. Egg-sukin Beaver Leech Flys Feb 2012
39. Fly Chardolas Bait Flys Feb 2012
40. Don't be afraid to try anything Steelhead Feb 2012
41. Best Fishing Story of 2011 Ryan Spannier Feb 2012
42. Best Fishing Story of 2011 by Bob Waldhaus Steelhead Feb 2012
43. Best Fishing Story of 2011 David Sandquist Kids, Salmon Feb 2012
44. Fly Reeds Spey Flyfishing Feb 2012
45. Jet Boat Maintenance Boats Dec 2011
46. Smoked Salmon Recipe BBQ and Honey Recipes, Salmon Dec 2011
47. Poached Italian Cod Recipes Dec 2011
48. Fly Blue Charmer Flys Nov 2011
49. Fly Muddy Waters Flys Nov 2011
50. Fly - The Excursion Leech Flyfishing Nov 2011
51. Herb and Garlic Crusted Halibut with oven roasted ratatouille Halibut, Recipes Oct 2011
52. The Banner Season Fishing Area Outlook Jun 2011
53. voteforsalmon Conservaton, Salmon Apr 2011
54. Votesalmon Conservaton, Salmon Apr 2011
55. Rivers Inlet Hatchery Program Conservaton, Salmon Apr 2011
56. Mayday for Wild Salmon Conservaton, Salmon Mar 2011
57. Contest 2011 Fishing Story David Sandquist Flyfishing, Steelhead Feb 2011
58. Contest 2011 Fishing Story Honourary mention Ron Gibson Feb 2011
59. Contest 2011 Fishing Story Bog Waldhaus Steelhead Feb 2011
60. Contest 2011 Fishing Story Brian Wong Salmon Feb 2011
61. Does Fish Cooking Techniques Matter Recipes Jan 2011
62. Mediterranean Fish Fillets Recipes Jan 2011
63. Virus Killing Fraser Sockeye Conservaton, Fish, Salmon Jan 2011
64. Halibut Fishery Conservaton, Hallibut Dec 2010
65. Salmon Virus watch Conservaton, Salmon Nov 2010
66. Disease Information Conservaton May 2010
67. Sea lice kept secret Conservaton May 2010
68. Catch the Dream Halibut, Salmon, Trolling May 2010
69. Oak Bay Marine Group Newsletter Salmon Mar 2010
70. Quesnel Lake Trout Jan 2010
71. Art of Curing and Smoking Fish Smoking Jan 2010
72. Bradley's Famous Hot Smoked Salmon Smoking Jan 2010
73. Salmon fishery action suit Salmon Nov 2009
74. Save B.C. Salmon Conservaton, Salmon Nov 2009
75. Winner of the Giver on the River Free Charter Fish Sep 2009
76. Oven bbq salmon Recipes, Salmon Aug 2009
77. Poached Italian Cod Recipes Aug 2009
78. Salmon Creole Recipes, Salmon Aug 2009
79. Australia Fishing Salmon Aug 2009
80. Horseradish and Dill Butter Salmon Steaks Recipes, Salmon Jul 2009
81. Navigating a boat purchase Boats Jul 2009
82. Salmon with a Homemade Grain Mustard Crust Recipes, Salmon Jul 2009
83. Halibut with Fennel Broth Halibut, Recipes Jul 2009
84. Cedar Plank Salmon Recipes, Salmon Jun 2009
85. Islander Winner 2009 Tackle Jun 2009
86. Just Get In the Water Technique Jun 2009
87. Saltwater Night Fishing for Salmon Salmon, Technique Jun 2009
88. Steelhead & Salmon Warfare Salmon, Steelhead Jun 2009
89. Deep Running Giant Salmon Salmon May 2009
90. Salmon Scampi Recipes Apr 2009
91. Dandelion Stuffed Chaunigan Trout Recipes, Trout Apr 2009
92. Living Rivers - Georgia Basin and Vancouver Island Conservaton Apr 2009
93. Salmon steak recipe Recipes, Salmon Mar 2009
94. Chaunigan Trout Recipe Recipes, Trout Mar 2009
95. Best catch of 2008 Flyfishing, Kids, Salmon, Steelhead, Trout Feb 2009
96. The Great Chilko Bear Adventure Bears Feb 2009
97. Seasonal Outlook for 2010 Salmon, Seasons, Steelhead, Sturgeon, Trout Jan 2009
98. A Fishing Trip with REEL OBSESSIONS Vancouver Island. Salmon, Trolling Jan 2009
99. Carp fishing from a different angle Carp Sep 2008
100. Fish British Columbia With a Timeshare Accommodation Apr 2008
101. Hurt by aquaculture industry Salmon Nov 2007
102. BC wild salmon endangered by failure to contain sea lice from salmon farms Conservaton Sep 2007
103. Go Fish Aug 2007
104. Studies show harmful impact of BC coast salmon farms on wild Pacific salmon Salmon Aug 2007
105. Lynn's Fishing Adventure Sturgeon, Trout Jul 2007
106. Chilliwack River Action Committee Conservaton Apr 2007
107. Indian Candy Recipe Recipes, Salmon, Smoking Mar 2007
108. Fishing Articles and archived fishing posts Mar 2007
109. Curing Eggs Salmon Mar 2007
110. Fishing for Chum Salmon Salmon Mar 2007
111. Salmon Eating - After They Change Colour Salmon Mar 2007
112. A guides Perspective - The Fraser River Salmon, Seasons, Sturgeon, Trout Aug 2005
113. Smoked Salmon Recipe Recipes, Salmon, Smoking Dec 2004
114. Fishing in Harrison Hot Springs Aug 2004
115. Jet vs. Outboard Boats Aug 2004
116. Helpful Hints, Tips and Tricks Tackle Mar 2004
117. Uncle Wes - Farewell Old Friend Dec 2003
118. Cow Paddy Pond Trout Oct 2003
119. 12 Seasons of Fishing the Kitimat Flyfishing, Salmon, Seasons, Trout Apr 2003
120. Sara, Guardian of the Lake Jul 2002
121. Portrait of a Mountain Man May 2002
122. Carving the Salmon Pie Salmon May 2001
123. Spoon Fishing Lakes From The Bank Tackle, Trout Mar 2001
124. Vedder River Fishing “Fall options” Salmon, Seasons Mar 2001
125. Slippery Spotted Owls Salmon Jul 1998
Aquaventures Tours
Amundson Fishing Products

[ Home | Contact Us | Advertise Here | Search Engine Optimization | Resorts Lodges | Guides Charters | Fishing Clubs | Tackle Suppliers | Gear for Sale | Product Reviews | Fly Fishing | Bass | Halibut | Kids Fishing | Salmon | Steelhead | Sturgeon | Trout | Hunting | Fishing Reports | Fishing Forum | Books | Articles | Events | BC Info | Fishing Links | Gallery ]

Copyright © 2018, GetSet! Communications All rights reserved.
Page Sponsors:

Aquaventures Tours
Amundson Fishing Products