When most anglers think of bonefishing, the image of fish cruising through gin-clear water, over white sandy bottoms, under the high sun of a blue-bird day is most likely what comes to mind. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
If that was always the case, heck, spotting bonefish would be easy! But its not. Occasional clouds, glare, and/or dark mottled bottoms can make picking out the shape of a fish extremely difficult, if not impossible. However, that’s not to say they still can’t be located – you just need to adjust what you’re looking for.
Ever wonder how great guides are able to still see fish under such difficult conditions? Part of the reason is they’re able to read water, nervous water. That’s why today we’re kicking off a three-part series, starting with the basics..
What is Nervous Water?
As a bonefish (or anything for that matter) moves through water, it displaces the volume of water it is occupying, causing the water around it to move. When compressed into really shallow water (like where bonefish like to feed), this pushing of water can be visible on the surface by wakes, splashes, dimples, or anything in between.
When bonefish are present in large numbers, this otherwise subtle surface activity can create a recognizable disturbance to the trained eye. We refer to this disturbance as ‘nervous water.’
While most often used to describe the surface texture of large groups or schools of fish, the same characteristics can be seen from small pods or even big singles traveling close to the surface of the water. Thus, being able to identify nervous water is key to spotting (and thus, catching) fish under difficult conditions.. But that’s a topic for another post. Stay tuned!