Choosing your casting position based on visibility, working with the light rather than fighting against it, is not an intuitive decision. But by simply moving our body, by wading up, down or over, we change the light, the highlights and the glare on the water. In this way we can see through a section of river from the left side that was under impossible glare from the right . . .
Articles in the Category Reading Water
Podcast — Ep. 6: Reading Water, and Cherry Picking vs Full Coverage
In this episode, my friends join me to share some of their best tips for reading water — seeing a trout stream, recognizing the currents in a river that hold trout and having the confidence to target them.
Then we get into the philosophy of Cherry Picking or Full Coverage. That is, the speed at which we cover water. How fast do you move from one place to the next? And what are the merits of hole hopping or trying to efficiently cover every likely piece of river that holds a trout? Because there are a couple of different ways to approach your time out there. And it’s helpful to think about the best ways to use it . . .
Finding the (Almost) Invisible Potholes — Reading Water
Just as the taller rock creates a surface wave, the pothole, bucket or depression in the riverbed has a corresponding feature on the surface. It’s a flatter, calmer piece of water — smoother than the surrounding surface currents. Is it harder to recognize? Sure it is. It’s also not as reliable of a sign. But quite often, if you find a calm piece of water, surrounded by mixed currents and minor waves, a pothole lies below.
Be careful what you’re reading, though. The stall, or slower piece of water that lies just downstream of every rock, is not the same thing as a pothole — not at all . . .
Trout Like To Line Up In Productive Seams
Trust the lanes. Trout choose them for a reason. And while it might not make sense to us why they pick one lane over the next, don’t argue with the fish. Wherever you fool a trout, expect to catch his friends in the very same lane. Follow that seam all the way to its beginnings, even if the character of that seam changes from deep to shallow or from slow to fast. Stay in the lane, and trust that more hungry trout are there, waiting to be fooled . . .
Reading Water — Every Rock Creates Five Seams
Downstream of every rock are three obvious seams: the left seam, right seam and the slower seam in the middle. That part is easy. But the most productive seams are more hidden, and many anglers seem to miss them altogether. These are the two merger seams, where each fast seam meets the slower part in the middle. And if I had to pick just one target area, day after day and season after season, I would surely choose the merger seams . . .
Levels, Resets and New Beginnings
The frequent chance for a purely new beginning is one of the joys of small to medium sized rivers. It keeps us hopeful. Forgiveness comes at the next level — across the next lip. This is the time for a deep breath and renewed determination. Because in the next level, over fresh trout that are unwise to our presence, all of our plans will come together. This we believe . . .
Trout Like To Do What Their Friends Are Doing
If you fish hard and pay attention to the details, you’ll often catch, miss or turn enough trout to learn something. At the heart of the puzzle is an eternal question: What do the trout want?
The best days start by learning what most trout in the river are doing. So, gather data toward those questions, and then branch off from there.
Walk Along — Jiggy On The Northern Tier
This article is part of the Walk Along series. These are first person accounts showing the thoughts, strategies and actions around particular situations on the river, putting the reader in the mind of the angler.
Tuck. Drop. Tick. Lead. Now just a five-inch strip with the rod tip up. Pause slightly for the fly to drop. Focus . . . Fish on!
Nobody Home | Nobody Hungry
Nobody home means there’s no trout in the slot you were fishing. And sometimes that’s true. Nobody hungry suggests that a trout might be in the slot but he either isn’t eating, isn’t buying what you’re selling, or he doesn’t like the way you are selling it.
Does it matter? It sure does!
New Structure | Old Structure
One of my favorite places in the world is a deeply shaded valley that runs north and south between two towering mountains of mixed hardwoods. The forest floor has enough conifers mixed in to block much of the sunlight, even in the winter. The ferns of spring grow tall, and thick moss is spread throughout. The ground remains soft enough here that all large trees eventually surrender to the valley. When they can no longer support their weight in the soft spongy ground, they fall over, leaving a broken forest of deep greens and the dark-chocolate browns of wet, dead bark. It’s gorgeous.
Fallen timber also dictates the course of this cold water stream. The fresh tree falls force the creek to bend away from the hillside. Rolling water carves away the earth and lays bare the rocks — these stones of time, as Maclean puts it. And when water cuts into a neighboring channel, previously dry for centuries, new river banks are undercut and fresh roots exposed . . .
What Lies Beneath
There’s a world unseen below the surface. The riverbed weaves a course and directs the currents, giving shape to its valley. Water swirls behind rocks. It moves north and south against submerged logs. The stream blends and separates, merges and divides again as vertical columns rise and fall — and all of this in three dimensions. . . . Eventually, knowing and admiring what lies beneath is as easy as seeing what flows above.