PODCAST: Angler Pressure ONE: What It Does to the Fish — S7, Ep1

by | Apr 9, 2023 | 10 comments

 The Troutbitten Podcast is available everywhere that you listen to your podcasts.

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Season 7 of the Troutbitten Podcast begins with a two-part discussion on angler pressure. This is a big one. It’s a topic that everyone in the fishing world loves to talk about. People complain about angler pressure, and they have theories about how it changes things.

In this episode, we discuss how angler pressure affects the fish. And for the next episode, the topic will be how angler pressure affects the fishing. One topic sets up a good conversation of the other.

Angler pressure probably isn’t going to trend the other way. For most of us, more casts are made to the waters we fish, by more anglers than ever before. Because there are more fishermen, just as there are more runners, golfers and bikers. Every sport these days has better access to information about techniques, about where and when to go, and there’s specialized gear that is easily available and fun to buy.

We Cover the Following
  • Trout selectivity
  • Feeding patterns
  • Migration
  • Growth rates
  • Trout conditioning
  • Grouping up or spreading out
  • Mortality rates
  • . . . and more

READ: Troutbitten | Front Ended — Can We Stop Doing This to Each Other?
READ: Troutbitten | Natural vs Attractive Presentations 
READ: Troutbitten | Why Everyone Fishes the Same Water and What to Do About It
PODCAST: Troutbitten | Rude On the River — Front Ended and the Golden Rule

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Next Time

Season Seven of the Troubitten Podcast continues with part two of this Angler Pressure discussion. We’ll discuss how it affects the fishing. So look for that one in your Troutbitten Podcast feed.

Fish hard, friends.


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Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


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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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What do you think?

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


  1. I think fish will move to less accessible parts of a high pressure stream. I try to target those areas when possible, especially if I know I’m not the first one through.

  2. I’ve noticed a few things on a stream I fish that has a special regs trophy trout section which receives a ton of pressure, but downstream of that section it receives far less, in fact I hardly ever see anybody else fish it because access is tough. Outside the special regs section average fish size that I catch is maybe 16” but within the special regs it’s around 10” but I have caught large fish in both sections so no doubt those fish are there. I think what the pressure has done is force those larger trout to become more wary, stay hidden or adjust feeding habits. I find conditions have to be a certain way for those larger trout to come out of hiding in the high pressured area but in the lower section they are more readily caught.

  3. One part of this subject not covered that I am curious to learn about is the impact of more people walking in the river and how that impacts the stream bed. There is a lot of talk about not walking in redds and I presume that is because we know it is bad? With more and more anglers onstream is there an impact to the fish that way?

  4. I have lived on a small tributary to one of the areas most pressured streams (both class A) and for the last 9 years I have been trying to figure out the patterns and cycles of the brown tout in this watershed. The tributary gets little to no fishing pressure, most of the land is private and there is really no public access for 90% of the stream. I catch more and larger fish on average than I do on the mainstem. However I am not sure this is do to angler pressure. There are so many variables involved that could affect the outcome of any situation and testing this with any accuracy would be difficult. However you could get a pro and an average fly fisherman to fish a section of the tributary and the mainstem on the same day, switch for the next day and compare catch rates. Do this 4 times a year and see what the evidence suggests.
    I question how the different types of pressure effect the length of time a fish is spooked. I have observed fish in feeding lanes while walking. If I continue to move the fish will not spook however if I stop they will. I have walked through the stream with the kids spooking everything, after 15-30 minutes while walking back we could see that some fish had move back to their previous locations but I don’t know if they would be eating. I have placed a Gopro in a feeding lane, spooking fish and with in 5- 10 minutes they have been back although not actively feeding. It is all very interesting. The thought of mortality due to fishing pressure is something I’ve never considered. I wonder in heavily fished areas if there are fish that are caught multiple times a week? A day? What would the life expectancy be of a fish caught that often?
    The more I think about it the more questions I have. Great Podcast.

  5. Angling pressure must be defined. Angler numbers alone is not important, it seems. The critical number is ‘takes,’ regardless of whether the fish is landed. If there are 50 anglers on the stream at a given time but no takes, how could the fish ‘learn’ anything? Learning can only come from stung lips, which logically would cause the fish to become more cautious going forward. So 100 poor anglers (poor drifts, poor fly selection, etc.) on a stream might exert little actual pressure on the fish whereas one Matt Grobe might exert substantial ‘learning’ pressure.

    • Thanks for the comment, Tom. But I very much disagree with this. You are giving the prevailing wisdom — that trout need to be stung to learn what to avoid. I think that’s wrong, and I’ve written and talked about this a few times.

      I believe trout learn what to avoid by simply seeing bad drifts. Does a trout actually making the mistake and being hooked teach them even more? Sure! But if a trout sees a pink beadhead drift past them on less than perfect drifts, over and over and over, they learn that pink beadheads don’t do natural things, and even when the next pink beadhead comes downstream on a perfect drift, trout won’t eat it — because they’ve already written off pink beads.

      Likewise, a trout does not need to be stung by a dry fly to learn about bad drifts. We see this plenty of times. A trout rises to our dry fly, inspects it for a moment and then refuses it. Do we really think a trout learned nothing from that experience, just because it never felt a hook?


  6. I am super late on these podcasts. I wanted to chime in and comment on the fact of birds and the geese comment. I believe it was Vince marinaro did an experiment on this. It’s in limestone legends. They would put fish in a slant tank or even like a runway. However I do think they were wild trout I could be wrong it’s been a long time since I read it. Anyways they would run slides of shadows or reflections of different birds over the fish. The predatory fish slides would spook the trout. The goose slide they wouldn’t move and continued to stay in the lie. I think it all revolved around a guy spooking fish with a grasshopper imitation but could be wrong on that as well. But if you look through the book you can find the article. Thanks I am kind of going through these podcasts backwards. So I apologize


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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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