By Jeff Herman
The ultimate way to stalk a fish on the flats is via sight casting. There is a bonus bit of magic in seeing the fish, casting smartly to that fish, and then watching the take. The split second – breath held – as you see the lure charged and feel the line go tense may be the best moment in fishing. Reality however, is that sight casting isn't always an option. When water clarity, wind or sun position conspire to reduce your field of vision, don't worry. Just use the penultimate method of "sound casting." Listen for them and use your experience to make that magical cast.
I was fishing with Micah Simoneux from Yak Gear, the summer sun shining directly into our drift. The visibility was horrible even with polarized sunglasses and a salute style hand shade on my forehead. However, as I sat drifting the bank, I could easily differentiate the mullet splish-splash from the SppppplloooooSHH of a red feeding. The mullet sounded like pebbles errantly being tossed into the water. The red I was after sounded like someone lobbing a small boulder into the drink.
I paddled along, listening for the red and then looking for his wake and ripples. As I rounded a corner of the marsh bank I heard him go after bait and then saw the water ripple as I turned toward the sound. The target was about five yards past my casting distance.
Using my Werner as a pushpole, I grabbed some marsh mud with the blade and pulled my kayak forward as silently as possible. I was throwing a shrimp pattern on a weedless, weightless hook and shorted my first cast. As I set up for a second attempt the red crashed the bank a second time, closer now.
I threw again and twitched the rod once. Fish on. I landed him after a quick fight and released the lower slot fish to grow some more. Even though I never visually saw the fish, I stalked it the same way you stalk a tailing red.
Listen, approach silently, cast where he will be looking or moving. Remember to keep a quiet boat. Don't bonk your paddle around or make unnecessary commotion. You really can hear them feeding, so keep your ears on and do some sound casting.