Sound advice: Success in the shallows requires a stealthy approach; the less noise you make, the better your opportunities. Sound travels approximately 4.4 times faster in water than in the air, and fish hear and react to sound in a variety of ways. In most cases, sudden, unnatural noises cause fish to spook and leave the area. However, certain sounds, such as a bait well pump, can make it difficult for them to detect the presence of predators or prey, so it causes them to move away from the source.
Tip: Devices such as jack plates and trim motors should not be used close to the fishing area. I have observed anglers come on to a flat and proceed via trolling motor or push pole only to realize that they have not trimmed up the engine to allow draft clearance for the shallows. Operating the trim motor, which is mounted in the water on the exterior of the boat, will usually send the fish running.
Think about sound the next time you're easing up on a big school of fish, and pay attention to how the fish react to your presence. If you are unable to get into casting range, chances are they heard you long before seeing you.
Troy P. Sapp of Fins and Tails Guide Service can be reached at (813) 920-6928.