Praise for Polarized Sunglasses

February 9, 2009 by  

Our Outdoors
Nick Simonson

A  good pair of polarized glasses can help you see things you might have missed otherwise

A good pair of polarized glasses can help you see things you might have missed otherwise

As I pulled up the trolling motor and hoped for a clean glide over the small sandy delta leading into a back bay on my favorite lake for Minnesota’s Bass Season opener, I was disappointed to not immediately see signs of fish ahead of the Grumman.

My yellow lab, Gunnar, and my father’s new pup Jake, stood side by side on the bow, wondering where we planned to park our boat in the small inlet the size of a hotel swimming pool, which was partially covered in lily pads and choked with old stumps and deadfalls. They too panned the water for fish after a bluegill rippled the surface. Feeling the warmth of the Sunday afternoon sun, I righted my hat and put my polarized shades on. My heart jumped as the glare was replaced by the crystal clarity of the water. I pulled the shades off and put them back on just to make sure what I had seen was real.

Under every set of just-emerged lily pads were three or four monster bass, staging for the spawn. Each one was running between three and five pounds and they warily fanned their tails as we coasted to the back of the small cove.

It was at that moment I whisper-shouted to my dad, cousin and brother, “jackpot!”

I crouched above the trolling motor, making room for the two dogs and my three co-anglers in the 15-foot boat. I began whispering commands.

“There’s one there…no wait, cast there…that one is bigger! Oh there’s one, and another and another, I’ve never seen anything like this!”

Senkos and Sinkin’ Shads whistled past my head and plopped into the water. I watched through my sunglasses as the bass abandoned their shady haunts for the apparently easy meals. Holding my offering back, I watched as my family members hooked into some of their first bass of the year.

My cousin was first; he set the hook on what would become his largest bucketmouth ever, measuring nearly 18 inches in length. As he freed the egg-laden female from a wayward lily pad, the bass rocketed skyward and tailwalked across the surface before bulldogging to the bottom of the bay. The fish rolled up next to the boat and I lipped it and handed it over.

Grinning from ear to ear, he posed for a quick photo and released his fish. The sound of it splashing on the surface was quickly replaced by the hoot of my dad leaning back on his Ugly Stick. The unbreakable rod bent in an electric arc tethered by gray line to a section of lily pads. The saucer-shaped leaves folded under the strain of the battle and he doggedly kept pressure on the fish that wouldn’t budge from the vegetation. Finally, he was able to horse the fish free from its haunt and brought it to hand. The legitimate four-pound female had a beer drinker’s gut and a whiskey drinker’s attitude, judging by the stubborn nature it exhibited during the fight.

Round two began for all of us just like the first one had, but this time a second set of eyes were on the job. My brother dug through his tackle bag and put his polarized lenses on. His “holy crap” confirmed my initial observation; the bass were everywhere, safe from the naked eye, due to the cover of lily pads and the reflection of the noonday sun on the mirror-like surface. Never before had the value of polarized sunglasses been so apparent to everyone in the boat.

My cousin, a casual angler, inquired as to what was so special about our shades, as opposed to just regular sunglasses, and I told him about the reflection-limiting qualities of polarized lenses as best as a layman could.

“Effectively, they cut the glare off the water, particularly when the sun is bright and overhead, allowing a person to see through the surface of the water,” I explained, “but it’s probably best explained if you just try them out,” I continued as I handed my glasses over to him.

With the reflections removed, the proof lay just below the water’s surface. He picked a fish out and cast to it and handed the shades back to me. His line jumped slightly, he set the hook and another battle began.

We caught forty fish in that little bay in about half an hour. After making sure my dad and cousin – the less frequent anglers of the four of us – had a few notches for their tackle boxes, I fired off my first offering to the far side of the bay. I connected with a 16-inch bass almost immediately. The next six casts produced fish and by the twentieth cast, I had successfully caught-and-released 15 fish on a watermelon Salty Sinkin’ Shad.

While any form of angling is exciting to me, I have a special affinity for sight fishing. Whether it’s a big bluegill lagging behind the school or a prespawn bass in the shallows, the key is keeping the quarry in sight. A pair of polarized glasses is the ultimate tool in cutting down glare and locking in on a target. Knowing where the fish are, and positioning the bait so that it doesn’t spook them upon entry is key. Like a spotting scope or a pair of binoculars for deer hunting, polarized shades are a must with sight fishing.

Thanks to the propagation of polarization technology, a pair of quality shades is well within any angler’s budget. Not having a pair is a setback in a fishing scenario such as the one we encountered this past weekend. Invest in better fishing this spring and summer and pick up a set of shades that will not only protect your eyes, but leave the monster fish with nowhere to hide…in our outdoors.


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