Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #4 — Fish Familiar Waters

by | Aug 20, 2017 | 2 comments

When I was a boy, I dreamed of having a trout stream close enough to walk to. It was my greatest wish. I now have Bellefonte, Pennsylvania’s Spring Creek just a short hike out the back door.

It’s a remarkably consistent river, the kind you should never be skunked on — and yet I still am. Packed with wild brown trout, there’s a Spring Creek fish watching your fly on every cast, no matter where you throw the line.

Easily wadeable, quick to clear after a storm, and holding stable temperatures year-round, Spring Creek is the best classroom a trout fisherman could ask for. The trout are eager, but not easy. And that’s a hell of a good combination.

There’s no substitute for time on the water. Getting out there is everything, and having a world-class trout stream close by for so many years has given me the opportunity to study fish and test tactics. Because if you go fishing often enough, the goals change. You find that you actually win the game of catching trout some days, and then it’s time to find out what flies they won’t take, to have a long bank sit and just watch the trout for a while, to learn what presentations attract larger fish and to attempt some really off the wall stuff. All of this happens on familiar waters.

When I explore new rivers, I fish differently. I move. I don’t even fight the urge to see what’s up ahead and what might happen next, because I want to see all I can and discover what is new.

But like most of us, I fish what’s close and familiar a lot more often. I take the fishing hours when I can. And if I have ninety minutes in the morning before work, I can’t travel enough distance to fish somewhere unknown.

I’ve learned my home stream, then, and I find great joy in it. I now have what I wished for as a boy, and it’s everything I hoped it would be.

So I’ve fished the piece of Spring Creek closest to my home hundreds of times. And I’ve realized that what I can learn from those five-hundred yards is limitless. There’s no end. There’s no boredom. Honestly — I could fish it all day and keep learning.

A couple years in, I figured I knew this piece of my home-stream inside and out, but I remember a day that surprised me …

While drifting nymphs in the usual pockets, I began to notice more nuances of the currents I was so familiar with. I realized the next step was to look closer, to see a smaller piece of the puzzle, to zoom in and make drift adjustments in inches and not feet. The challenge was renewed, and the trout responded like never before (… some days).

The point is, if the fish are there, the game is always changing. The playing field may look the same, but a river transforms from day to day — not just with displaced logs in a water event, but in the habits of trout themselves. Hatches, sunlight, water temps, fishing pressure — all of it effects where the trout lie and how they respond each day, each hour. And you only get to know this intimately on familiar waters.

It may be naive, but I tend to believe that at most times, and in almost any condition, trout can be caught by considering those factors and making adjustments. When you know the water thoroughly, you can accomplish more suitable, refined adjustments until you catch a trout.

Fish hard, friends.

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

Share This Article . . .

Since 2014 and 600 articles deep
Troutbitten is a free resource for all anglers
Your support is greatly appreciated

– Explore These Post Tags –

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

More from this Category

Acquire Your Target Before the Pickup

Acquire Your Target Before the Pickup

Accuracy. It’s an elementary casting principle, but it’s the hardest thing to deliver. Wild trout are unforgiving. So the errant cast that lands ten inches to the right of a shade line passes without interest. As river anglers, our task is a complicated one, because we must be accurate not only with the fly to the target, but also with the tippet. Wherever the leader lands, the fly follows. Accuracy holds a complexity that is not for the faint of heart. But here’s one tip that guarantees immediate improvement right away.

Be the Heron

Be the Heron

We can learn much about wading a river for trout by observing the heron. Take time to watch these compelling predators — these master hunters of the river. Because the lessons of incomparable stealth are unforgettable once you’ve seen them . . .

The Spooky Trout: Find Their Blind Spot

The Spooky Trout: Find Their Blind Spot

Understand that trout can’t turn their heads, and they don’t look behind themselves casually.

And from a fisherman’s perspective, as one who has spent decades accidentally scaring the fish I intended to catch, I assure you that the best way to approach a trout is from behind . . .

Part Two: What you’re missing by following FIPS competition rules — Leader Restrictions

Part Two: What you’re missing by following FIPS competition rules — Leader Restrictions

Leader length restrictions unnecessarily limit the common angler from taking full advantage of tight line systems. Such rules force the angler to compensate with different lines, rods and tactics. And none of it is as efficient as a long, pure Mono Rig that’s attached to a standard fly line on the reel. Here’s a deep dive on the limitations of using shorter leaders and comp or euro lines.

Are You Spooking Trout?

Are You Spooking Trout?

All trout continuously adapt to their surroundings — they learn what to expect, and they spook from the unexpected.

So, stealth on the water and understanding what spooks a trout is foundational knowledge in fly fishing. Trout are easily scared. Are you spooking fish?

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.

2 Comments

  1. You can walk to Spring Creek? As my 14 year old daughter would say, “Dang!”

    Reply
    • Yeah seriously. Dream come true, really. Good life choice.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Articles

Recent Posts

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

Pin It on Pinterest