By Bob Jamison  

          The late General Douglas McArthur once made a statement that said, “You can’t fight’em if you can’t see’em”. Perhaps a likely situation in those days but nowadays with Global Position equipment (GPS) and phenomenal fish finders complete with sonar, ‘seeing’ fish or structures becomes an important factor for most of us.

          Of course, it is always with tongue-in-cheek that the average angler can be often heard saying, as he frequents his favorite sporting goods store and stares at hundreds or thousands of fresh and salt water lures, “I believe they made many of these lures to “catch” people (buyers) rather than fish.” Frankly, I’ve thought that myself.

          Then, should you have the opportunity to pick up a copy of “Bass Boss” book by Robert Boyle about our friend, the father of bass tournaments Ray Scott, you might find valuable information about ‘sighting’ any fish. It could be the bright light green flash of a striking bass, the silver side of a Stripper or the king of all the bay flats, the golden glow of a Red Fish striking.

          Top water lures for either waters will challenge almost all fish at times. However, should you sight the flash and it misses of your top water lure, Ray Scott says to pick up that second rod equipped with a spinner bait and cast again at the same spot where you saw that flash. Concentrating on that spot will surely pay off when the conditions are right.

          My old fishing partner, the eighty year old expert Herman McGowan of Dayton, Texas was a master of “reading the water”. He simply meant that you watch for currents and eddies that follow around structures which deflect the current. Fish will invariably lie in these areas to catch bait fish carried by the current. In cold weather, deep running lures might be just the one to catch fish. But don’t be married to just one lure. Though confidence in the lure, rod and line is important, fish psychology is also important. The simple advice is this: Use what the fish want. This might include examining fish stomachs.

          Many folks swear that fishing with scented lures and even bait will pay off when you are after the most elusive fish. Garlic spays (that really smells like garlic) is one that is very popular along with shrimp flavor and others. Some spay their lures and let them dry a bit and then use them while others simply reapply scent often and continue to cast.

          While fishing the second largest barrier reef in the world in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Belize, our favorite Indian (Mayan descendent) guide would drive the boat along the reef while trolling. If the fish didn’t take the feathered lure as he would like, he would hook a small piece of bait such as shrimp, conch or a bit of fish on the hook point. It seemed to work better. However, the purest of fishermen scorn the idea of bait. I don’t. It might still be what the fish want most.

          Probably the most interesting experience of sight fishing was on the Chalk Streams in southern England. Fishing clubs, apparently were holdovers of the days when only the gentry had most fishing rights and ownership. However, these clubs were organized to allow only proper gentlemen or women to participate. My Dutch friend, veteran RAF fighter pilot, Pieter A. Cramerus and I were once invited to enjoy a fishing tour of these gorgeous ….. bed streams of crystal clear water. Before fishing we entered into the lodge room for sherry and a discussion of the rules of the club.

          Our host for the day was a dapper gentleman of the age commensurate with the tragic days of World War II in England. His name was Geoffry. He had that old English charm with a cheerful smile and a soft welcoming manner of talk. “Remember, should you approach a gentleman who is ‘presenting the fly’ (never say casting or pitching) to a rising fish (trout) you must rest at one of the park benches until he catches the fish or invites you to pass. (Some boaters could use this advice). It was a splendid day for both of us.

          Sight fishing in the inland coastal bays is a great example. Fishing expert, Jerry Swearingen of Liberty County, is a good example. Shallow flats while the winds allow ‘slick water’ are ideal. The water clears between the grass beds and white sand spots show clearly in the three foot to ten inch waters. Tailing is a term used when a Red Fish’s tail breaks the surface of the water as he feeds head down on the bottom. A gentle cast beyond and slightly ahead of the fish should bring a whopping experience with a good Red Fish.

          Of course, like Herman McGowan says, “You also watch for bait fish jumping even sometimes in the air. It is almost a sure sign of a predator fish in the area”. Sea Gulls diving for baitfish are another sight that should lead you to feeding fish. Slicks or fish oil sheen on top of the water is still another indicator that fish are about.

          By chance, I purchased a lure that I surely felt was intended to catch that lure buyer. It was a Moto-Chug top water lure of Woolery Signature class. Where the swivel ties on to the lure there is attached a five inch string. When pulled, the segmented tail with a bushy skirt starts wiggling until the string is retracted. That often sends fish crazy. Whatever, Herman always says the best advice to the fisherman who wants to catch a lot of fish is, “To go fishing a lot of times”.