[img2="left"]http://www.thefullcreel.com/files/data/PolView.jpg[/img2]Flats Vision: Learning to See Below the Water
By Capt. Barry Hoffman
One of the most difficult things to do while fishing upon the flats is seeing the fish below the surface. First and foremost, having a pair of polarized glassed helps immensely. One need not spend a fortune on those sunglasses especially if only on the water two or three days of the year. There are plenty of manufacturers that offer glasses less than twenty dollars. The most important thing is that they are polarized. Whether or not they filter a certain spectrum of the sun's rays is not as important as their ability to remove the glare from the surface of the water. With an increase in price of those glasses one can expect a higher quality lens with less distortion, more lens color choices and a better polarization lamination. The ability to protect ones eyes from harmful UV rays also is expected of a quality lens. Generally most guides here in the Keys choose an amber or a vermilion tint for the flats. Some guides have multiple pairs for different lighting conditions. A bright yellow tint for early morning or low light days and a darker tint for brighter, sunnier days. For those deprived of perfect vision, there are a few manufactures that offer prescription polarized glasses. What do I use? Costa Del Mar frames and vermilion prescriptive lenses from Costa ground by Island Optics in North Carolina. One quick tip to tell if a pair of glasses is polarized. If you take a pair that is polarized or suspected to be and place it in front of another pair, slowly rotate one pair ninety degrees while looking through both pairs. If both are polarized, your vision through both pairs will blacken. If one or both are not polarized, you will be able to see through both pairs without any noticeable difference.
[img2="right"]http://www.thefullcreel.com/files/data/FFIslamardo.jpg[/img2] Ok, you've made it down here and are out on the flats. One of the first things I'll have any new client do is an exercise in concentration. I'll have them start by focusing on the bottom right alongside the skiff. Once I've got them picking out the seagrass or sponges beneath them, I'll have them slowly move their attention to a point further away from the boat, always concentrating on the bottom. As one moves his eye away from the skiff, it's most important to concentrate on the bottom and focus on the objects upon it. Usually there comes a point they're not able to discern objects on the bottom and are looking at the glare on the surface of the water. You've got to know when you're looking through the surface glare and not at it.That's the most crucial point. If you are able to recognize the exact point at which you've lost contact with the bottom (not focusing upon the objects on the bottom) and are looking at the surface, you've mastered it. The difference between the guide and the angler is that the guide is looking through the surface of the water and not at it. With perhaps the only two exceptions being in search of tailing fish and watching for nervous water (water pushed by fish just below the surface), looking though the water and not at it is the most important thing to master to become successful at fishing the flats. I've once read it described as standing in front of a window and either looking at your reflection in the window OR looking through the reflection to the world beyond the window.
There are a few other things you can do to help see those ghosts upon the flats. Positioning your skiff so that you've the sun at your back. If it's overcast, try to position the dark clouds between you and the fish so that you're looking into them. On extremely cloudy days, searching over a lighter bottom will help to provide the contrast you need to find the bonefish. Side shields mounted on your glasses help to prevent sunlight from reflecting off the inside of your lenses. A dark underside on your hat brim will also absorb rays reflected up from the waters surface.
Please E-Mail me or call me between 5 & 8 p.m. EST@ (305-852-6918) if you've any other questions. I'd be glad to discuss any concerns or inquiries you may have about a charter. There is also an answering machine at the above number for your convenience. If you'd like to send a fax, dial the above number and press your fax's start button at any time after the answering machine picks up your call. The Hot Line # 305-664-6460 (a direct link to my cellphone on the boat)
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Article Courtesy of Capt. Barry Hoffman & flatsguide.com index