No matter how you shake it, stealth is key for catching more fish. While the methods of being stealthy vary for different types of fishing and different types of skiffs, the end result is the same… if you want to catch more fish, they simply can’t know you are there. Every boat and every angler can be stealthy… Are you? Here’s my take on how beginners can become more stealthy.
How far away can the fish hear you? Good question. I’m not sure anyone knows the answer. When I don’t know, I prefer to err on the side of caution… no noise is the best policy. If you plan to approach an area, turn off your outboard and approach quietly from a good distance away. The amount of noise and the proximity to the fish often depends on the depth of water… if you’re offshore on a 100′ deep wreck, chances are the fish can’t hear you. However, you don’t have that luxury inshore. The shallower the water, the better they hear and sense your presence. They can certainly hear sounds inside the boat, like the sound of a dropped hatch lid or cooler lid, or flip flops on the deck. So, they will definitely hear even the slightest sound outside of the boat. A perfect example is when fishing for Bonefish or Redfish in less than a foot of water, a heavy push with the pushpole in the grass makes a slight crunching sound the fish can hear from 30+ yards away. Use this as your guide… if you can hear it, they can. Make your skiff silent, make your approach silent and you will catch more fish.
How do you become invisible to the fish? Well, it’s a difficult concept, but an easy answer… Don’t let them see you! If you can see them, they can see you. If the sun is lighting you up, they can see you. If the sun casts your shadow on them, they can see you. If you’re right on top of them, they can see you. So, how do you combat all of these odds against you? First and foremost, be silent… don’t give the fish a reason to look for you. Second, keep your distance as much as possible… optimize casting distance. Plan your day such that you can keep the sun at your back, giving you a better chance at seeing them before they see you. There are no holds barred when it comes to being stealthy… know the tide tables so you can be in the right place before the fish get there, know the suns direction of visibility so you can see them first and keep your distance. Use every advantage afforded you and increase your odds instantly.
Stay tuned for part two of this subject… I will expand more on technical poling skiff stealth and the steps I take to give my guests the advantage over other surrounding anglers.