Podcast — Ep. 8: How Many Trout? Expectations, the Liars and Reality

by | Nov 9, 2021 | 11 comments

 The Troutbitten Podcast, Episode 8 is now available everywhere that you find and listen to your podcasts.

** Note **  The Podcast Player and links to your favorite providers appear below

We’re out there to catch trout. That’s what brings us to the water. But how many do we catch? And really, how many should we catch? What are the expectations? And how can we know that we’re fishing well?

In some way, maybe none of this matters. It’s not really about numbers, right? it’s about the experience.

Sure it is. And we all agree with that. But as I’ve written on Troutbitten, there are two sides to every fisherman — one that just wants to go fishing and is happy to be out there, and another that desperately wants to understand the techniques — to solve the ever present mystery of how to catch more trout. And Troutbitten aims to address both of these sides.

In truth, it’s the tactical side that keeps us coming back. Most long-term anglers go fishing to learn something and to improve a skill. And as we learn and refine our craft, we enjoy everything that the woods and the water give to us. The endless discovery is the joy of trout fishing. We’re thankful that it’s different every day, and we know we’ll never learn or experience all of it.

So if the goal is to improve and study and refine, then the numbers in the net do matter. Because it’s the trout that ultimately decide if the drift is any good. The trout tell us if we’ve solved that daily mystery. A fish at the end of the line is confirmation that our decisions and efforts are good ones.

Counting is a way to gauge our success, not just against how well we did last time out, but how well we are doing compared to what is possible. What’s the bar? What’s the ceiling? How many trout could be caught if we had everything just right — the best fly and the perfect drift.

I think every fisherman asks those questions — How am I doing relative to what is possible?

And that . . . is what this podcast discussion is about.

We Discuss the Following
  • Catch rate vs catch numbers
  • Conditions and expectations
  • Staying grounded
  • What is a catch?
  • Sometimes the goal is not to catch the most trout
  • All fishermen are liars
  • Types of trout and changing expectations
  • How chosen tactics change expectations
Resources

READ: Troutbitten | Fly Anglers in Profile — The Numbers Guy
READ: Troutbitten | Two Sides to Every Fisherman
READ: Troutbitten | How to Fish With Friends
READ: Troutbitten | Missing the Mornings

Listen with the player above, or . . .

Find the Troutbitten podcast on any of these services:

— Apple Podcasts
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Also, find the dedicated Troutbitten Podcast page at . . .

podcast.troutbitten.com

Thank You!

The Troutbitten Podcast continues to grow quickly. I sincerely appreciate the support. Your downloads, subscriptions to the podcast and five star reviews are the key metrics in the podcast world. These kinds of stats help garner financial support from the industry and keep these podcasts coming. So thank you for being part of it all.

Fish hard, friends.

 

** Donate ** If you enjoy this podcast, please consider a donation. Your support is what keeps this Troutbitten project funded. Scroll below to find the Donate Button. And thank you.

 

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

 

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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.

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11 Comments

  1. Twenty, 30, 50, 80, 100+ fish days! Incredible numbers but no mention of sizes.
    For every 20 trout landed, I’m curious as to how many reach what New York DEC now defines a “memorable” catch as 15+” in length? LaFontaine had a fishing buddy who cleaned up on numbers with his nymphs but when Gary set the arbitrary “fish that count” at 16″ his friend was getting routinely skunked. As a DFO angler on a technical system, these numbers are mind boggling, but I would think that routinely putting double digits in the net must somehow diminish the meaning of any one fish. Again I’m coming from the perspective of hunting a few good surface eats in a day of fishing.

    Reply
    • Hi Rick:

      “but I would think that routinely putting double digits in the net must somehow diminish the meaning of any one fish.”

      It doesn’t.

      I’ll also say that this “memorable” term is strange to me. Because many of my most memorable trout had no size to them at all. Often, I feel more rewarded by catching difficult trout in tough situations. Likewise, many of us enjoy the challenge of catching numbers of trout over a sustained period of time. It’s another challenge, just as respectable as hunting a few surface eaters. I like it all, honestly. I fish often enough that having different motivators and rewards keeps me interested for the long haul.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
    • Dom,
      Yet another great episode, especially the few closing sentences that seem to sum it all up. Agree or disagree with counting I really like these thought provoking topics. One question which would maybe help me in setting my own benchmarks… do you know roughly the population of wild trout per mile on the rivers you fish? Obviously it varies probably by section and certainly by river but just an idea to compare to the rivers near me.

      Reply
  2. Listening to this podcast and scratching my head. Love the website and everything Troutbitten. I have immense respect for all you guys, especially you Dom. I’m an avid fly angler, fish between 30 and 40 days a year; intermediate in my abilities; well into my 60’s. Let me first reiterate what Dom often says about fly fishing being very individual with few hard and fast rules. Same applies to fishing approach, so again, kudos to all you guys for focusing on putting lots of fish in the net.

    While I understand why numbers is a great way to gauge angling prowess, I don’t agree with the approach. Why? First, it detracts from the intangible benefits of being on a stream, that have nothing whatever to do with fish catching (nature, s0litude, quiet, escaping, to name a few). Second, there’s an unspoken competitiveness that is built in to this approach which I find antithetical to fly fishing. Third, the more this approach is ingrained in our sport, the more pressured the fish, and the worse the angling will likely be in the future. As a conservationist in perpetual search of unpressured water, this is troubling to me.

    My approach, for what it’s worth, is as follows. Find time to fish whenever you can, and fish hard (yes); find some good buddies to accompany you, more for the camaraderie than the sharing of fishing tips (although this is fine too). Have in your mind to catch some fish (0f course this is important!), and follow a simple rule: 1-2-5-10-?. For me, catching just one fish is great. Study that first fish and appreciate its beauty for the couple of seconds you have coaxed it from its realm. Celebrate the second fish (you must be doing something right!) and pat yourself on the back for partly cracking the day’s code. On the fifth, pause and thank God that you have the time and luxury to be on a stream chasing these beautiful creatures. On the 10th, tell yourself you’ve had an amazing day. Reflect a bit on the prior nine and savor them…which was your favorite? the most challenging? biggest? smallest? They’re all gifts. Then, seriously ask yourself if you’re up for more. Sometimes the answer will be yes, others no. If I find a bite window or stretch of water where fishing becomes “easy” I’ll often change flies to see if something else might work or move on to just give the fish a break. Or I’ll switch tactics to see if I can challenge myself to fool a fish differently.

    Not saying my personal approach is better than someone else’s, but do want to offer another way of thinking about success in our beautiful sport.

    Reply
    • Hi Charles,

      Thanks for the kind words about Troutbitten. And since you’ve read a lot of articles here at Troutbitten, then I think you know that I agree with you. Yes, I agree with your approach. I appreciate the beauty and the experience. My goal is not to catch more trout than anyone else or to catch the biggest.

      My friends and I are certainly NOT focused on numbers. And that’s where I feel that your comment here is unfair. Because we made this point no less than a dozen times and in as many different ways throughout the podcast that you listened to. I’m not sure how you can fairly miss that.

      Our fishing is not all about the numbers, and we acknowledged that in our conversation, multiple times. And yet, this discussion is valuable. While counting fish can be obnoxious when taken too far, it’s disingenuous to pretend that gaining the approval of trout doesn’t matter. Every long term angler that I know cares about catching more trout.

      For me, and for so many others, learning, discovering and refining skills is the primary motivator that brings us to the water. And a trout at the end of the line is the only way to know that our efforts to improve are succeeding — so we keep track of such things, sometimes.

      And then, once we are there, we’re stunned by the surroundings and the experience.

      We addressed all of this throughout the podcast. And now I’ve done it here.

      Thank you for listening.

      Enjoy the day.
      Dom

      Reply
  3. In some waters here at Vancouver Island we have 100 fish per mile. To have 30 fish during 8 hours outing you have to be Master and cover a lot of ground.

    When I listen to you in this podcast I honestly believe only you can do it if you come here. Not sure any Canadian can.

    I manage 3-5 per mile. Perhaps when fish get note you are coming all hundred of them will line up and wait for you. You just simple cast to one spot and all will just hook themselves.

    For me, I have to pack up and go to New Mexico. I guess I could get 30 if I go to San Juan in New Mexico with 15,000 fish per mile. I am thrilled border is opened and am already packed.

    Reply
    • Zoran,

      I can almost guarantee that I would NOT catch thirty trout in eight hours, given that low population density. I think that’s important to understand, and we touched on that in the podcast, in the What’s In the River section. If the trout aren’t there, no on can catch them.

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
  4. I think that counting fish caught gets a bad rap. I, and everyone, I imagine, agree that what really matters is the experience. That is not controversial. However, alongside the subjective sense of the experience are a whole lot of quantifiable things. Here is where the compulsive and geeky side of me resides. And here is where some kind of scientific precision is called for, and one aspect of that precision is counting fish. Counting fish gives me an objective sense of how well I did. Needless to say, the subjective and the objective can be at odds (as when I have a really gratifying day but catch few fish), but, more often than not, they complement each other. I want to enjoy the aesthetics of a day on the water and I want to know what I did right and where I messed up. I can have one without the other, but my experience is most intense when I have both.

    Reply
  5. Hey guys I thoroughly enjoy the podcast and the articles. You have certainly changed the way I’m fishing.

    Why I’ll never have 100 fish day!

    Years ago I was fishing a high mountain lake on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) my home waters. The fishing was spectacular. It was the first time I landed a double and while landing a fish, another fish took my dropper and I had to over hand him in. Anyway, I was counting my catch and I got up to 80 when I thought, enough… and I just quit counting. I’ll still count fish on occasion as I’m working through new tactics, the mono-rig being primary on my list, but in general it is to understand, what am I doing right and what am I doing wrong. I’ve just decided I’ll not have the 100 fish day 🙂

    Charlie

    Reply
  6. Hey Dom, I really enjoyed this as I do think about this some. I recall the first year I started fly fishing (I believe 1988) and mostly struggling as you might guess. I did join TU that year and went on a bus trip to fisherman’s paradise with the local chapter. To that point, I had only fished for stocked trout and had no idea that the trout here were wild! Anyway, after fishing from probably 9:00am until 9:00pm I caught two beautiful trout and I was on cloud nine! Now days, depending where I am fishing, I might catch ten and feel like I suck. Now of course, I do expect more of myself at this point which is natural, but sometimes I can’t help but miss the days where I felt more satisfied by catching less fish. Being a rather intense person doesn’t help I guess.
    My numbers don’t match you guys, which I am OK with as I fish maybe 25-30 times a year and I am a good two hours plus away from what I consider good trout water. Even on days that I fish I rarely get eight hours of fishing in, as too much time is spent driving. I also began euro nymphing two years ago and still have a lot to learn, but I certainly am catching more fish and therefore the “need” to catch more before I feel satisfied has crept into my mind. Plus if I am with my son he kicks my ass haha!
    Always enjoy your articles and now the podcasts as well Dom, good stuff. Enjoy those boys, they grow up fast!

    Reply

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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.

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