Search Month: June 2019

Fighting Big Fish — Keep ‘Em Down

A top-tier river trout is a beast. The inherent nature of a river, with the endless obstacles, rocks, tree parts, current breaks, high gradient runs and undercut banks challenges the angler at every bend. So when you finally hook up with a Whiskey, a new game begins. It’s a match up between trout and fisherman. Who will win that fight?

Bringing a trout to the net requires a series of accurate calculations, thoughtful moves and a good dose of luck. But with a few guiding principles and a bit of experience, you can minimize the luck required and get a good handle on the outcome. One of the best of those principles, is to keep ’em down . . .

Fishing With Kids — It’s About the Adventure

All of our favorite rivers were high, but clearing. Joey is ten years old now, so he knows the drill. We fish, because trout like water. And it’s the water clarity that matters, not the flow so much. We find wadeable pieces of river in almost any conditions, as long as the river isn’t the thin, brown color of Yoo Hoo.

Last weekend, sandwiched between two big days of baseball games and long team practices, we short-planned some time on the water together.

It was a trip to remember . . .

Fly Fishing Quick Tips — Put the fish on the reel

With a ten inch trout, none of this really matters. The little guys don’t challenge your tackle or fish-fighting skills. But with a trout longer than your arm, if you don’t put the fish on the reel, problems are right around the corner.

Whether you have a high-end disc drag or you palm the spool with an old-school click-and pawl, getting the line on the reel is the first order of business. It’s the only reliable method of fighting fish . . .

Things that are good: The Fishpond Nomad Hand Net

Durable, lightweight and suited for the job — these are things we all want from our fishing gear. But sometimes such qualities are at odds. It’s impossible to make a truly durable pair of lightweight wading boots, for example. And usually, the functionality of our fly fishing gear is balanced with manufacturing and material costs, while also considering mass appeal.

But the gear that make it to the top of the heap — the stuff that’s adopted by a large set of anglers — has the right mix of these core elements. Dedicated fly fishers are a picky bunch. We’re a discriminating group of irritable outdoorsmen who want nothing more than long moments on the water. And we demand gear that works hard to keep us there. We need the right tools, and we want things that last.

I watched a couple of my Troutbitten friends with their Fishpond Nomad Hand Nets. I waited for a few years. I netted a couple of trout with them. I noted the long term durability. And when my old wooden net finally snuck off downstream one day without me, I bought my own Fishpond net. It quickly found a welcome home in my gear bag. And it’s now an on-stream essential — a constant and reliable companion on the water.

Here’s why . . .

Fishing With Kids — It’s About the Adventure

Fishing With Kids — It’s About the Adventure

All of our favorite rivers were high, but clearing. Joey is ten years old now, so he knows the drill. We fish, because trout like water. And it’s the water clarity that matters, not the flow so much. We find wadeable pieces of river in almost any conditions, as long as the river isn’t the thin, brown color of Yoo Hoo.

Last weekend, sandwiched between two big days of baseball games and long team practices, we short-planned some time on the water together.

It was a trip to remember . . .

Fly Fishing Quick Tips — Put the fish on the reel

Fly Fishing Quick Tips — Put the fish on the reel

With a ten inch trout, none of this really matters. The little guys don’t challenge your tackle or fish-fighting skills. But with a trout longer than your arm, if you don’t put the fish on the reel, problems are right around the corner.

Whether you have a high-end disc drag or you palm the spool with an old-school click-and pawl, getting the line on the reel is the first order of business. It’s the only reliable method of fighting fish . . .

Things that are good: The Fishpond Nomad Hand Net

Things that are good: The Fishpond Nomad Hand Net

Durable, lightweight and suited for the job — these are things we all want from our fishing gear. But sometimes such qualities are at odds. It’s impossible to make a truly durable pair of lightweight wading boots, for example. And usually, the functionality of our fly fishing gear is balanced with manufacturing and material costs, while also considering mass appeal.

But the gear that make it to the top of the heap — the stuff that’s adopted by a large set of anglers — has the right mix of these core elements. Dedicated fly fishers are a picky bunch. We’re a discriminating group of irritable outdoorsmen who want nothing more than long moments on the water. And we demand gear that works hard to keep us there. We need the right tools, and we want things that last.

I watched a couple of my Troutbitten friends with their Fishpond Nomad Hand Nets. I waited for a few years. I netted a couple of trout with them. I noted the long term durability. And when my old wooden net finally snuck off downstream one day without me, I bought my own Fishpond net. It quickly found a welcome home in my gear bag. And it’s now an on-stream essential — a constant and reliable companion on the water.

Here’s why . . .

Get a good drift, then move on

Get a good drift, then move on

Cover more water and catch more trout. It’s a common theme running through these Troutbitten pages and one that surely puts more fish in the net — if you’re committed to it. And while there’s certainly a danger of taking this concept of constant motion to counterproductive extremes, the core philosophy of showing your flies to more trout is hard to argue against.

There are a host of variables to consider, though. And walking upstream spraying casts in every direction is not the way to get things done.

Let’s talk about it . . .

You don’t have to match the hatch

You don’t have to match the hatch

Long days on the water are best finished with some leisure time back at the truck. So as the guys trickled in, one by one after dusk, my waterlogged waders were already rolled up. I’d just broken the rod down and popped the top on a Troegs IPA when Smith walked through the fading light with his wading boots crunching over the gravel. I handed him a beer and asked the requisite questions: How many? And on what flies?

“Great day!” Smith said. “All nymphs and nothing up top. Mostly Beadhead Pheasant Tails. Fourteens and some sixteens. Silver beads were the best.”

“Nice,” I nodded. “For me it was stonefly nymphs. Copper bead. Took a couple on small trailers, but all the good fish ate the stones. Fun times!”

Smith agreed, and we clinked brown glass bottles. Then we leaned back on the tailgate and watched the darkening path, waiting for our friends to return from the water.

One by one they came back to the gravel lot, all of them pleasantly water-weary and uniquely satisfied. Each had caught lots of trout — that part of the story was the same. But the hot flies were all different. Trout had come to dries, streamers and a variety of nymphs. All of the Troutbitten crew had found success, but each had come to it in a different way.

“So much for matching the Sulfur hatch,” Smith chuckled . . .

Tight Line Nymphing: Reach with the rod to find the seam — Then stay in your lane

Tight Line Nymphing: Reach with the rod to find the seam — Then stay in your lane

You might be a poor judge of ten feet. In fact, on the river, you probably are. Anglers are notorious for overestimating the lengths of things, right? Your buddy tells you about the big trout he caught, up around the bend. “It was probably twenty inches,” he says. But he didn’t measure it. So you nod and smile skeptically. Tell that same friend you’ll meet him three hundred yards upstream for lunch, and you could be walking around hungry at noon, until you finally find him a half mile upstream. Again, we’re bad at evaluating distance out there.

With that in mind, consider this . . .

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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #39 — Look Upstream to Find the Seams

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #39 — Look Upstream to Find the Seams

The river is in motion. It carves a path that erodes its rocky bottom and gnaws at its bordering banks. It cuts lanes and moves channels, constantly shaping the valley into something new. And within the river’s path is structure — all the things that give a river character: logs, tree parts, rocks, boulders, gravel bars and rootsy banks. That structure forms seams where trout live. (Find the seams and you’ll find fish.) And the best way to see them . . . is to look way upstream.

The structure in your favorite large river or small brookie stream creates seams extending well beyond what is obvious. The two distinct lanes running along each side of a midstream boulder create a third zone, a stall, right in the middle. It’s easy to see those three water features up close to the rock, but the further downstream the water travels, the more those features fade and blend into each other. And such is the beauty of a trout stream.

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Get Short and Effective Drifts with Your Fly

Get Short and Effective Drifts with Your Fly

Wild and wise trout demand from the angler a natural presentation of the fly. Trout are a difficult fish to fool. So the consistent fisherman learns to successfully drift flies that look like something the trout is used to eating — something that appears natural.

However, the most natural drift of the fly happens over a short portion of the drift. And usually, the angler who casts more often is more successful . . .

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Grandfather

Grandfather

He didn’t fish. He hunted. Wandering over wooded mountains, and whispering through the wheat fields, I followed my grandfather into a broken forest. We climbed over long oaks, and we scaled fallen hemlock trunks to reach the other side of a small stream. My footsteps fell into his. He walked slowly — much slower than a boy’s patience could match. And when my eagerness overtook me, Grandfather turned to force my pause. He leaned in and granted me this wisdom: “Slowly, child. Life’s secrets are in these trees.”

He was gone before my sons were born.

And now, when I enter these forests, these forgotten tramps, miles away from industry and deep inside shaded canyons, the wet moss absorbs my footfalls and silences the mental rush of an average life. These muted and hushed moments are given for remembering . . .

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