How to Find a Fish Using Seagulls
Seagulls can be very annoying - when they are hungry, they are afraid of almost nothing and will land very close to the fishing boats (even on the boats) and try to find or steal some foods. But, sometimes they can be of great help - they can help one in finding fish just by observing their feeding habits.
Photo by N.M.
Seagulls usually feed on fish and other marine and non-marine food sources. They can spot a fish from great distance and then they quickly fly to that location. When they find a school of small fish near the surface, party begins :o)
But, how to tell if they are migrating, resting, feeding etc?
If you notice flight of seagulls in the air in V-formation, they are migrating somewhere. One can rarely see (if ever) seagulls in V-formation unless they are migrating, so, if one sees them flying this way, ignore them and look somewhere else.
When resting, on the ground or on the sea surface, they are very still. Often, they are faced in the same direction - toward wind. Taking off into the wind requires least amount of space, time and effort - and birds can be very picky about this.
Photo by N.M.
When resting, seagulls will accept piece of bread and small fish when thrown near them, but they will rarely show aggression toward other seagulls or people on board fishing boats. Nonetheless, stay away from them, their beaks can make plenty of damage to human soft tissue.
When hungry, seagulls will actively search for fish and when schooling small fish is found, they will start to feed immediately. This is easy to notice - entire flight of seagulls will take off from and dive under surface in pursuit of small fish.
Photo by N.M.
Main difference between flight of seagulls and good fishfinders is that feeding seagulls can be seen from much greater distances when compared with range of most fishfinders. Also, fishfinders have great issues when used for finding distant fish near the surface, especially during bad weather.
Using seagulls for finding fish is especially effective when trolling - they can be observed from great distances feeding on sardines, anchovies or similar bait fish and where there are such small fish in larger quantities, there is always a great chance of hooking a game fish lurking for smaller fish.
When approaching location with feeding seagulls, be sure to troll using bait that resembles fish that are seagulls feeding on - lures that mimic sardines and anchovies, dried fish skin shaped into small fish etc. In the beginning, stay near the spot where seagulls are - trolling speed should be 2-4 knots, not more, in order not to scare seagulls nor schooling fish (trolling electric motor can do wonders here). After several passes, if you don't get a strike, feel free to steer the boat directly onto the schooling fish.
Anyway, after several passes near or over the schooling fish, with or without having a strike of some predatory fish, steer away from seagulls. First of all, you never know if the predators are still away from smaller fish; second, this will allows smaller fish to gather again in one larger group attracting more predators.
Also, when near the school of smaller fish, feel free to use your fishfinders actively - this can aid in increasing strike percentage and that is all what this article is about :o)
Good luck and don't forget - small specimens and endangered species should be released immediately. After taking few photos, of course :o)