Last week we started our three-part series on nervous water created by bonefish with an introductory post on, well, what the heck nervous water actually is.
Today we continue the series with a few tips on how to identify nervous water, which some of you know is easier said than done. So, without further ado..
Identifying Nervous Water
Being able to identify nervous water is key to spotting fish under difficult conditions. However, its not always easy. Wind moving across a flat or tidal currents flowing over submerged objects like coral heads, sand dunes, or sea sponges can give the appearance of the surface disturbance created by a pod of fish.
“Are those fish?” you ask your guide. “No, bottom.” he replies.. again. We’ve all been there before.
So how do you differentiate nervous water from other non-fishy breakups on the surface? Below are a few tips.
- Compare to wind direction. Take into account which direction the wind is blowing. If the nervous-looking-water you’re seeing is moving in the same direction as the wind, you might be being fooled by the breeze. If its moving in a different direction than the prevailing wind, odds are you’re looking at fish.
- Compare to a fixed object. When spotting nervous-looking-water, it can difficult to determine whether or not it is actually moving across the flat – the telltale sign you’re looking at a pod of fish and not a disturbance created by something on the bottom. Wind, wave action, and boat movement can give the appearance that things are moving when they’re actually not. A great tip to gauge whether what you’re staring at is really moving is to compare it to a fixed object using your peripheral vision. Find a fixed point – an island, a mangrove shoot, the horizon line, and then find your nervous-looking-water in your periphery. If the fishy looking water is moving in relation to your fixed object, those are fish amigo!
- Look for flashes. Bonefish are highly reflective. Their ability to reflect the color of their surroundings is what makes them so difficult to see. However, in large pods or schools, bonefish don’t always swim in the same linear fashion that gives them the best camouflage from above. Instead, they twist and turn as they dive in and out of the school, often catching light in the process. This can create subtle flashes on the surface. If you see funky looking water with a bunch of silver flashes within, you’re looking at fish.. Go get ’em!
Now that you know how to identify nervous water, stay tuned for next week when we cover the good stuff – how to fish to it!