Reading a river isn’t exactly easy, but at least there’s some printing on the proverbial page. Rocks, banks, bends, eddies, riffles, pools – the features of moving water are myriad and often readily evident. 25 miles offshore though, it’s a whole different story, or more to the point, no story at all. 360 degrees of cobalt swells just don’t have a lot to say… particularly to a northern Rockies trout fisherman who doesn’t speak the language. I think I’ve picked up a couple keys to offshore success though. Turns out that if you want to catch anything beyond sea-sickness and a sunburn, you need to get high on some good weed.
Surprisingly enough, getting high typically precedes finding weed. It all looks like one, vast, undifferentiated ocean to you and me, but the birds who earn their livings out there see things differently. High above the waves, they can look down into the water column and spot schools of baitfish. Keep your eyes to the skies until you spot a pod of circling, swooping, diving seabirds. Those are your airborne accomplices, and they may be over the mother lode.
Birds mean bait, but alas, bait may not mean bights. Just think of all the elkless days spent staking out a perfect piece of habitat. Same deal. If the birds alone aren’t enough to get the reel ripping party started, what you really need is some good weed. Sargassum and other types of seaweed will form-up into floating mats and miles-long lines. The how, where and why this happens is, for me, yet another of the sea’s well kept secrets. What’s better understood is that the pelagic predators we go to sea for often use these weed lines like the local supermarket.
If you can find birds working a good weed line, you may just bring home some groceries of your own.