The last ten feet can be the hardest. So, get the fish upstream, lift on a direction change, keep the head up, and spread your wings. When it’s close enough for the net, those are the keys to landing the biggest trout of your life . . .
Side pressure pulls the trout from its lane. While the fish faces the current and tries to hold a seam, side pressure moves that trout from its comfort zone and forces it to work against the force of our bent fly rod — all while keeping the trout low. And while we never want to play a trout to exhaustion, the art of a good trout fight is in taking them to the point where we have more control over their body than they do.
I had the pleasure of talking shop with Jason Shemchuk of the WadeOutThere podcast. It’s a tactical but casual conversation that digs deep. I probably talked too fast and too often, and I got excited about the material, as usual. But those who know me will tell you that this is about as much DOM as there is anywhere on tape. That’s a tribute to Jason, because he’s easy to talk with and steers an interview with grace . . .
A good streamer bite comes with a shot of adrenaline, especially when the strips are fast and aggressive. As we see a wild trout attack the fly, our natural reaction is one of excitement. We set the hook, and all too often we continue the fast and aggressive motions of our retrieve. The trout never has a chance to get back down through the water column, and we mistakenly fight the fish fast and near the surface. Unfortunately, that’s the worst place for a trout, if you want it to stay attached.
It takes about five minutes to feel the flex of a rod and learn the breaking strength of our chosen tippet. And a simple experiment is all that’s needed. Once you’ve tested both the tippet and the rod’s strength, a new confidence follows. Then, when the fish of your dreams shows up, you are ready.
When you know the maximum pressure available from your fly rod and tippet , you can put more pressure on a trout and bring him in quickly . . .
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 . . .
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 . . .
After the initial surge and downstream run, my big trout turned. He was forty feet below me and angled to the far bank. I was in no position to wade much further without going for a swim, but I needed the trout above my position — upstream — so I could finish the fight and land him quickly. At the critical moment when he slowed, my trout and I worked out an agreement . . .
Midday. High sun and an overpowering heat. I stalked the banks of a large Montana river with my Border Collie at my side. I mirrored his shepard’s crouch: low, with my head forward, almost crawling through the dry sage brush.
We paused strategically under the thick Douglas Firs, not only for a break from the unrelenting sun, but for a real chance at deception. The large wild trout, it seemed, were at the moment, predictable — laying close to the banks (sometimes within inches), and waiting for the next overhead meal from a hapless hopper or any other random terrestrial occurrence. The evergreen limbs provided the shade for true cover — our only opportunity for real stealth.
The longer a trout tugs, turns and flips at the end of your line, the greater the chance you’ll lose it. We don’t need a study in probability theory to know this is true. No, we all have enough firsthand stories about the desperate emptiness that accompanies a long...