8 Great Tips For Spotting Fish

Contrary to what many people think, fishing isn’t just about luck. This is particularly true for those who like to fly fish and know how many different factors go into landing the right fish during a day on the water.

One of the smartest things that an angler can learn, whether they’re new or experienced, is how to spot fish. Looking for fish and knowing where and how to do it will give you the greatest chance of catching them, so it’s time you learned the tips and tricks that will make it easier for you.

Wear The Right Sunglasses

When you’re looking at the water and the sun is glaring down, it’s pretty tough to see anything that’s happening under the surface.

The best way to combat this is with a pair of polarized sunglasses that remove this surface glare, however, there are many different colors that can be used in different settings.

  • Amber/rose: Use these for dark bottom streams and those with harder to spot fishing floors.
  • Copper/orange: These are ideal for saltwater fish flats and trout streams with light colored fish.
  • Gray/brown: Best for the deepest water you fish in, including lakes and deeper into the ocean or offshore.

Use A Boat

Although it’s not always easy to get yourself a  boat, you’ll find it a lot easier to catch fish if you’re able to head out on one. The reason for the ease is because you can see a lot further into the water when you’re right on top of it, making the boat the best place to be.

However, if you don’t have a boat or are preferential to wading, you can even take out a step or ladder that will help you get the best view of the water from up high.

Don’t Look For The Whole Fish

A common mistake that amateur anglers make is looking for an entire fish when they’re out on the hunt, which ultimately leaves them feeling very disappointed. It’s rare to be able to spot a fish in its entirety so instead, you have to learn to look for just parts of them.

Depending on what you’re fishing for, there are usually telltale parts that will be easier to see, and for most fish, this will be their tail.  Once you stop looking for the whole fish and just start looking for a tail, you’ll find it a lot easier to spot them.

Use The Sunlight

There are times more optimal than others for fishing, but if you’re able to then try to do most of your searching in high sunlight.

The sun will make it easier to look into the water but will also cast a shadow from the fish and make it highly illuminated. Because you will see the shadow first you’ll get a glimpse of your fish a lot earlier than you would otherwise and be in prime position to catch it.

Watch Your Release

There’s only so much you can learn about fish from reading books or looking at pictures, and one of the best ways to study them is in their natural habitat. When you do catch a fish and release it, take careful note of everything about it as it moves away from you.

See what markings you can see, what parts of the fish are most visible, and more importantly how they move when they’re in the water.

Learn The Favorable Features

Before you can even start spotting fish in water, it might pay to find the areas that are going to make it more favorable for fish to flock to. These can include boulders which offer protection and feeding, fallen trees which create a slack current, and stream banks where they might head to in order to feed on insects in the shallow water.

Tread Lightly

One of the biggest mistakes you can make, especially when first starting out fly fishing, is not realizing how much of a disturbance you are creating in the water.

The way that you approach a stream or other body of water will be crucial to your success, and one wrong move will chase all of the fish away. Keep as low as you can and if you feel the fish are being spooked you can even squat or crawl to minimize the noise and motion.

Slow Down

People often get into the water and become excited about the prospect of catching a fish, causing them to be impatient when searching. Take some time to remind yourself to slow down and stop completely, and you’ll likely find it a lot easier to spot something.

Fish are used to moving fast in their environments and you won’t find them if you’re moving just as fast, so stop entirely and you’ll see the flicker of movement you’ve been waiting for.

Fishing is one of those great hobbies where tips and tricks are picked up along the way and passed down through friends, families, and generations of anglers. These tips will certainly help you spot a fish a lot easier but you might even find your own tricks along the way that you can share with others.

A lot of the skill of fishing has to do with patience as you’ll spend a lot of time waiting, but when you’re better equipped with knowledge of where and how to look you’ll make it a lot easier. Learning all you can about the fish you’re chasing is the best way to get started, as once you understand more about them you’ll be more in tune with how to catch them.

We at College Bass provide tips and guides for both beginners and advanced freshwater anglers and casters out there. 

Collegebass.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.