Concentrate your search on the area where a trout should or could be, and once the bottom and its features reveal themselves, look for something that changes or moves against the background of the bottom features.
Once the position of a fish has been ‘fixed’ by picking up a movement or such, it is often amazing how ‘easy’ it becomes to spot the fish again and again, even after looking away or moving away.
In pools or lakes many fish will cruise or patrol a regular pattern in their search for food. If you spot a fish on the move, stay still and concentrate on the area where you first saw the fish. Very often the trout will move back through this same area.
If you look for fish throughout the total area of water around you, 90% of the time you will be wasting your time. Fact is that 90% of the water trout live in does not hold fish – fish are usually found in only 10% of all that water.
If you have done your homework, and you have become proficient at identifying lies (the places where trout hold most often), the task of spotting fish becomes much easier, because you have narrowed down the places to look. Looking in the 10% of the water that is likely to hold fish is much more productive.
Another key to spotting fish is to gain height. The steeper the angle of view, the less you have to compete with the reflected glare off the water. Often it is more efficient to try and spot fish from a vantage point well above the water, and then using marker points, move into position to fish for the fish you have found. But this is a two-edged sword. The lower you are to the water’s surface, the harder it is for a fish to spot you, the higher you are above the water, the easier it is for you to be spotted.
If you are trying to spot trout you simply must invest in a pair of Polaroid glasses or Polaroid clip-on’s for your prescription glasses. Trying to see into the water without Polaroid’s is difficult to impossible.
Lens colour does make a difference when trying to spot fish. For best all round performance amber or yellow lenses cover most situations, and most people. On very bright days rose-coloured glasses work very well. (Some people reckon I wear my rose-coloured glasses all the time!) On slightly overcast to overcast days, yellow lenses are good for most. On days when the light is changing rapidly amber is a good all-rounder. Yellow-tinted glasses also work well in water that has a tannin (brownish) tinge.
But the key to lens colour selection is to recognise two factors:
Most of us see colour differently from others, and you should select the colour that gives you the best result. My comments above about lens colour are suggestions, not recommendations.
The key to colour selection is to choose a colour that provides the maximum contrast of things under the water. When trying to detect movement it is heightened contrast that is most helpful.