Most of us are super tuned in while fishing… hearing the faint pop of fish eating a bug, or the sight of a jumping fish out of the corner of your eye. We all get in the zone when targeting our quarry and it helps build up the anticipation of getting the strike. It’s what we as fishermen live for and what makes fishing so special.
However, there are those times when you just don’t feel the vibe that the fish are feeding. Usually high sun, wind, weeds, slack tide, pleasure craft and a host of other fish deterrents are around that bring down the confidence level. This is the time when I look around and take in the things that I otherwise could miss. Most of the time I see these things, but I’m so focused in on catching fish, that I don’t spend much time taking a closer look. It is during the slow times that these discoveries makes up for a slow day of fishing, or possibly just puts the icing on the cake.
Just using your acute senses that would otherwise be used for fishing during these times also improves your perception around you. My wife tells me it is also a clear sign of Attention Deficit Disorder, but what fishermen really doesn’t have ADD at least to some level? I like to think of it as a short attention span, but I’m sure my wife is closer to the truth than I am.
I’m usually scanning the ground while I’m stalking the shoreline and casting. I have found many fishing lures this way and it is just a bonus to my fishing session, but have found many natural gems too.
One thing I have found is beautiful impressions from fish that have been feeding in the muddy shallows of the back bay. The silt just slowly drops out of the water and makes magnificent outlines as seen in photos here. I have seen perfect imprints of all types of rays and my favorite being the halibut impressions. They are just perfect and will disappear during the next tidal swing, but are there long enough for me to admire before washing away during the flood tide. There are times that I’ve seen 30 impressions over a 20 yard stretch of beach. I don’t care who you are, it is just plain pretty cool to see. Some of the better imprints are also of big bat rays that slide up in the skinny water and suck the razor clams out. There are times we will see massive holes in the mud with big wingtips outlining the shape of the beasts. We especially like seeing these big ray impressions when we are soaking bait for them and definitely know they are in the area.
This mostly occurs with your dorsally-ventrally flattened fish but I wouldn’t be surprised to see bass bellies impressions in the soft mud one day. In any case, keep your eyes peeled and try and see the coolness all around you when you are out there. It doesn’t matter if it is a whale coming up for a breath or a cool sky formation in the distance. Things like this sometimes can salvage a slow trip out on the water and burn a cool image in your memory forever.