Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #33 — Fish the Edge

by | Mar 11, 2018 | 6 comments

I walked against the current for most of the evening, working a mid-river seam with a pair of nymphs, stepping slowly upstream after a few casts and picking off a trout every ten yards or fifteen minutes (however you want to measure it).

In the heaviest sections, the water was forceful enough that I turned sideways, just to stay upright and prevent being bowled over by three feet of hard whitewater. My backside to the bank, I cast upstream into the deep, prime currents of the early spring season.

Underneath the surface, nymphs crawled over an unseen riverbed of rocks and tree parts. Trout foods were nearing the end of a life cycle. Mayfly wing cases were engorged, ready to split at just the right moment and join their brothers and sisters in a mass emergence, with millions of see-through-thin, fluttering wings. Cased caddis outgrew their tubular homes and were on the precipice of the same emergence. The smells of spring were palpable. Anticipation hung over the river. And undeniably, it was a great time to fish nymphs.

In river sections with milder current, I faced upstream, making an easier task of casting and drifting to the main, middle seams. And from the corner of my vision, just off the periphery, I began to notice something. Time and again, I glimpsed trout moving from the river’s edge and out into the main flow. Darting shadows sprinted for the safety of faster water as I passed perpendicular to their holding lie. And some of those quick shadows were much larger than the trout I was catching.

It went on like this for a good hour before I finally accepted the suggestions of the trout shadows. When a particularly large pair of dark phantoms abandoned the bank and skirted the perimeter of my position, I’d had enough. I turned my back to the main flow where I was catching trout. I waded a little closer to the river’s edge and cast to water that looked like nothing.

Sure, I know all about fishing the juicy undercuts and logjams. Some of my favorite prime lies are right on the edge, where a good current seam rubs up against a rootsy bank and scours out a bucket where the best trout in the river make a home. These unique places are often transitional; they’re here one season and gone with the next flood, washed out and re-positioned by time and by the endless forces of nature.

READ: Troutbitten | Upper Honey

I also know about hitting the banks during high or muddy water. And I know that trout love to find a shady summer corner and wait for ants and beetles to make a mistake. I know that Whiskeys like to ambush baitfish in the comfortable shallows just near the banks (particularly under the cover of darkness). And I know why streamers fished to the edges is a popular strategy.

But now I know. Now I know that even the most nondescript, average, boring bank is a good place to try a nymph. It’s a good place to land a dry or any type of fly. It’s another type of water to believe in, to give trout the chance that maybe — just maybe — they’re holding along the banks. It’s not just the prime undercuts or during high waters, either. No. Sometimes, trout are found where I least expect them.

Fish hard, friends.

Not a whole lot of this left this year. Make the most of it. Photo by Josh Stewart

 

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

Streamer Fishing Myth v Truth — Eats and Misses

Streamer Fishing Myth v Truth — Eats and Misses

Over time, over endless conversation, cases of craft beer and thoughtful theories, we came to understand that our hook sets were rarely at fault. No, we set fast and hard. We were good anglers, with crisp, attentive sets. The high percentage of misses were really the trout’s decision. We summarized it this way: Sometimes a trout misses the fly. Sometimes a trout refuses the fly. And sometimes a trout attempts to stun the fly before eating it . . .

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 . . .

What do you think?

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

6 Comments

  1. Dom…Honest and serious question. Throughout all the posts all I ever see are Brown Trout. Why? Where are the Brookies and tail-walking Rainbows that take your breath away and set your heart to fluttering as they go through their aerobatics? 🙂

    Reply
  2. Hey Jim. 🙂 That’s a fair question! There are some brook trout posts on here. There are a few. In fact, there’s probably a couple dozen good brook trout shots. And most of the brook trout posts are in the stories section.

    I am thoroughly enamored with the wild brown trout of PA at the moment. But there was a time when I fished almost all brook trout streams. That was about a decade ago. I had a Border Collie who loved the deep woods, and we hiked all over north central PA in search of the next brookie water. I love it. And I’ll get back to it, I’m sure. I know and miss a lot of those brookie waters.

    As for rainbows, there are very few wild rainbow trout streams in PA. So most of the bows that we catch are stocked, and that doesn’t do much for me.

    Just my thing.


    Dom

    Reply
  3. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh . . . .

    Reply
    • OK!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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