Fish Spotting

In a lot of fishing applications we spend our time fishing in water where we can’t see what’s going on. Trolling, nymphing or streamer fishing, and working a spinnerbait along some deadfall are some of the ways to catch fish without seeing what you’re doing. When we have an opportunity to see what we’re doing, heck, that tends to lighten the mood.

What happens when you see a school of fish in skinny water? I’ve heard that some anglers yawn at the prospect of working a pod of fish like this, but I’ve yet to actually meet one. I think we all feel our blood pressure increase just a little bit, particularly as we get ready to make a presentation.

Maybe it’s the rise that does it? Knowing that there is a fish underneath the series of rings begs a series of questions that connect

us with that fish: when is he coming back up and where is he coming back up? We’ll watch for a while and try to figure out the pattern so that we can figure out where and what to cast. It’s like a high-stakes game of poker, winner take all.

Some fish push water when they’re feeding, and when you see that movement you’ll wonder if it’s one fish or if there are more. The V-wake that is left behind is a tell-tale sign of where the fish is headed, and casting ahead and beyond means that your lure will be in front of his face when he gets there.

Splashing fish get under my skin. They show a little fin and thrash around on the surface, sort of saying that they’re here but are going to eat what they want to eat. I like it when I hook up one of those fish. The game they play is one of hide-and seek.

Fish of all species show themselves in a wide variety of ways. Catching them puts a smile on every angler’s face. When we release them we are releasing a smarter opponent. And what that means is that we raised the stakes for when we try to catch ‘em up again.

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Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at