Vertical Sight Fishing

By Mark Lassagne and the Bass Angler’s Guide Magazine

Mark Lassagne with a nice Clear Lake bass

Vertical sight fishing is targeting a single fish or two in 10 feet or more of water, using the depth finder to locate the fish then lower a bait directly on top of that fish. Sounds easy, it is. This is an awesome way to catch fish all year long, even spawners in the spring time. In April a few years ago up the Pit Arm I was seeing fish on my meter in about 10 foot of water and they were paired up.

Image from the new Humminbird

I knew this because I would see  two fish on most every point. For those of you who don’t know fish spawn on points and spotted bass and smallies both spawn deeper than largemouth. If the water is murky the only way to see the fish is on the meter. The first thing you need is a good quality depth finder.  Most any of the newer Humminbird meter will have a clear enough pictures that you can determine the difference between the structure and a fish, the transducer mounted on the trolling motor enables you to get directly over the fish.

This technique also calls for quality equipment; a six and a half to seven foot rod with a light tip with a medium backbone. Most rod companies make a seven foot medium action rod that will work fine. One ket to this technique is a smooth reel that releases line freely. U.S Reel has two models that work perfectly for this technique both their Super Caster 1000 and Super Caster Pro 1000, these reels have

US Reel Super Caster 1000

no level wind eyelet allowing the line to come off fast and smooth without back lashing.  Fishing line I’ve found the new McCoy 100% Fluorocarbon 8 test offers both sensitivity and low stretch needed for vertical sight fishing.  A standard Texas rig or a drop shot with a 3/16oz-lead or tungsten weight will work for most occasions, sometime heavier if you’re fishing deeper or it’s windy. Use which ever rig you’re more comfortable with.  A Gamakatsu 1/0 Extra Wide gap hook will give you a great hook up ratio; it holds the bait straight and it weed less.  You can also rig a drop shot with a small mosquito hook and nose hook the bait also. Experiment with both methods to see which one the fish bite better on that particular day.

Standard Drop Shot Rig 1/0 Gamakatsu Hook and Quick Drops Weight

There are many baits on the market that will work for this technique. Short compact baits like the four inch Fat Robo worm or the Cross Tail Shad by Jackall are good choices. As far as colors are concerned experiment, starting with a green colors then switching if I fail to get bit. Have an array of colors handy and if you don’t get bit try different color on the same fish.

Jackall Cross Tail Shad

What to look for, Points are always a good place to start find a point with a smooth surface and scan it with your finder looking for fish on the bottom or hovering just off the bottom. If the fish are more than 3 feet off the bottom they will be hard to catch or they my not be bass. Flats or anywhere you have a smooth surface will allow you to distinguish between structure and a fish. Most fish will look line a thick short line and not usually an arch. The only way a fish will appear as an arch is if you go directly over it and it goes in and out of you cone angle and by then you’re past it.

Let the boat glide over these spot slowly then when a fish is located drop the bait right away when you see the fish, holding you rod at the 8 o’clock position. Let the line fall to the bottom as fast as possible, “this where the US Reel design comes in handy”. While your line as it falls “watch it” if your line is angled that means the boat is moving and is not directly over the target anymore. Back the boat up to where the line is straight so a vertical presentation can be made.  After the bait is on the bottom shake the worm very slightly stopping every 5 seconds to feel the line after 15 seconds or so reel up and go to the next fish or change baits.  It’s that fast if they want it and you put it the rights spot he’s on! Otherwise keep going. When you do get bit it usually feels like a snag, lift your rod if there is tension wait a second then if it loads up set the hook hard. Fishing deep in 20 or more feet it is very had to break off even with light line. With a little experimentation you will be better with your depth finder and as you go you will know which fish will bite and which won’t.

Tip: While lowering you line keep an eye on your depth finder you will see your bait fall to the bottom and at time may even see a fish come up to eat your bait.

Lowering the Line with my new US Reels Supercaster
Single Fish Over Brush (Perfect target)
Line Descending
Vertical Sight Fish, Notice the Fish on the Meter

US Reel

McCoy Line:

Gamakatsu Hooks:

Humminbird Electronics:

Jackall Baits:

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Mark Lassagne free lance writer, pro bass angler, publisher, and bass guide would like to give a special thanks to his sponsors:

Skeeter Boats , Yamaha Outboards, Gone Fishin Marine, U.S. Reel, Pepper Custom Baits, Jackall, Fisherman Eyewear, Sniper Lures and McCoy Fishing Line

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