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With few exceptions, all gamefish are both predator and prey. While one eye is constantly peeled for their next meal, the other is always scanning for lurking danger. Their appetite pushes them greedily forward while their wariness urges retreat. This constant push/pull creates a rather nervous personality whether it be a 24” brown trout sipping mayflies off a swirling eddyline, or a 28” bonefish rooting deep in the marl for a mantis shrimp. Even salmon, hellbent to move upstream struggling to fill a primordial appetite of a different sort, are subject to the same wariness of character. The brown trout fears the eagle and osprey, the bonefish fears the shark and barracuda, the salmon fears the grizzly bear and they all fear you.



The selectivity and wariness of wild fish is an innate characteristic, yet it is increased by fishing pressure. Experienced anglers know that the single most effective technique that they can employ to increase their success is stealth. In any type of fishing, and most especially with sight fishing, you must avoid alerting your prey to your presence. This single rule is more important than fly color, or size, or pattern, or tippet diameter. We all spend huge amounts of time and effort conceiving ways to fool fish with tackle, especially terminal tackle, refinements. But, it is often at the complete other end of the system where the problem occurs. The noisy, quick or jerky motion, the gaudy dress, the poorly presented fly, - whether it be in the salt, or in freshwater lakes and streams - often sabotages an angler’s chance of success.



Think about this, a fish’s vision is extremely acute. If a bonefish can see a small shrimp scooting away in muddy water, he can most certainly see and hear you - unless you can avoid alerting him. Bonefish can focus simultaneously on a whole range of objects on any given plane. This means bonefish can see in almost every direction at once. To catch a bonefish therefore, your wariness must match his wariness.



Here are a few suggestions to increase your “stealth factor”:
1. Wade quietly, move slowly, watch constantly - look before you change your position. Good anglers are like herons, they watch and wait then move - often the fish come to them.
2. Wear clothes that camouflage your presence. Select colors that blend into the background shades of your fishing environment. Try to disappear into the fish’s surroundings. Stand in shadows, on patches of turtlegrass, behind trees, rocks, or mangroves.
3. Practice your casting before your go on your trip. Learn to cast with a minimum of false casts and never false cast over a fish. Never load your rod by “popping” your fly off the surface either in front of you or on your backcast. Not only learn to cast longer, but learn to drop your fly more quietly.
4. Don't wade into the water from the shore without looking into the shallows first. In other words, look closely before you enter the water.
5. Don't talk if you want to catch fish, if you want to socialize that's great, but if you want talk to your buddy, don't expect to catch as many fish. Talking obviously makes noise and diverts your attention from the task at hand. Don't kid yourself that fish can't hear you talking or splashing.
6. Don't wade noisily or too quickly to get to an area that looks promising. This is just "calling ahead" and drastically reduces your odds of success once you get there. Likewise, don't wade quickly thru a shallow bar to "get to the other side". You are merely "reaching out and touching somebody!"
 7. Don't false cast or practice casting while you are wading, Don't roll cast (thus splashing water) to initiate your cast. Use as long a leader as you can cast and get upwind if you can (more on this in the next post).






Remember above all else:
Fish may not immediately leave an area when they become aware of your presence, but they will behave differently. If they know something is up, they are far less likely to eat. In order to get a shot at big bones before they "make you",  you must learn to think like a predator...  that is what you are afterall. Your mindset is all important. Stealth is as much an attitude as a particular technique. When you assume the attitude of a hunter and all that entails, you are on your way to becoming invisible to the fish - and that will increase your fishing productivity more than any other single learned technique or purchased technology.