Camouflage and Stealth...
Not Just for Hunters

By Brian Athern - July 1, 2001
If I had stopped to really give it some thought, I suppose my attire would have raised an eyebrow or two. By no means was I trying to make a fashion statement, just attempting to sneak up on a fish or two. The stares of bewilderment confirmed that this area received minimal fishing pressure from the locals. Keeping up with the Jones' didn't apply to me. The only statement I was trying to make was walk softly and carry a big stick, at the very least a 6 1/ 2 foot spinning one.

I'm awfully certain that more than one person didn't understand my rationale for being dressed in an O/D (olive drab) pair of waders, tan fly/wading vest, beige T-shirt, and tiger striped bush cap. The bush or "boonie cap", worn by Vietnam War Era LRP/Rangers and Navy Seals was a given, the rest was probably attributed to "another one of those fishermen or something" as I've often overheard.

Although not that radical, many anglers are yet to exploit the strategy of sneaking up on their quarry. There are significant advantages and results by being astute at this art, too. We may not need the amount of "the element of surprise" as the Long Range Patrollers (pronounced Lurp) and Seals did, but we can benefit by adopting some of their apparel that our hunter friends have long known.

Having cut my teeth at small ponds and gin clear strip pit lakes, I've been able to witness the good and bad results over 2 decades. Most everyone can attest to seeing the wake of both bass and panfish darting away from the bank as we came stomping up to the shoreline. The flip side is


"If I had stopped to really give it some thought, I suppose my attire would have raised an eyebrow or two..."

plucking a dozen nice 'gills as they congregate together for some sun along a stretch of weedline. Or sight fishing and being able to catch and release 3 keeper largemouth from the same feeder creek mouth on a heavily pressured reservoir in eastern Kentucky. The latter, good results were accomplished by successfully up on those unsuspecting fish without spooking them off.

To be an effective fish stalker by land or stream, hold to these few precious principles. Think in terms of nature and natural colors in and around the fish's environment. Tan, beige, brown, khaki, O/D green, gray, light/sky blue, and camo all blend with that environment. Although we may use lures in colors like pink, red, orange, or chartruse to provoke a reaction strike, nothing in their natural setting mimics those colors. Besides that, we're looking for the opportunity to provoke a reaction long after we've snuck in. Flashy colors in large profiles scream "danger!" to the fish.

When moving around, avoid quick or fast movements that may spook fish or at the very least alert them to your presence. While wading, every step must be deliberate and slow for success and most of all, safety.

Slow movements and soft steps prevent stirring up an area with silt and debris. Again, slow down and think out your steps before you act.

For the bank angler, avoid casting shadows on the water during bright, sunny days. Unnatural shadows will alert fish that something is there and your shadow moves as you do, again stressing slower movements. Begin casting a few feet before completing your approach to the water. Once that area has been covered, move up and fan cast out further. Before switching spots or moving down, parallel cast in front of that spot and then move into position.

Work areas inside out or closest to furthest away to avoid spooking other fish by fighting fish through and area you haven't cast into yet.

Those are just a few tricks of the trade that will assist you in your quest for catching more fish. My apparel may not be the standard, but I feel its intended purpose of helping me blend in is better accomplished when using those color schemes. These outline the basics and guidelines to help make you more successful. As experience and others train and refine your techniques, you like the Long Range Patrollers, will become a more effective stalker!

Author Brian Athern
Brian Athern
Brian J. Athern is a Field Editor with MidWest Outdoors Magazine, Fishing Facts Magazine and has also worked with the former www.thesuburbanangler.com. If you have any questions or comments regarding this article you can email Brian at bumnbri@aol.com