I totally get that landing fish – or even sighting fish – isn’t always the primary goal for a day on the water. Sometimes, it’s just shaking off the grey season or sipping your favorite drink with your buddies. But, let’s be honest: it sure is nice when the stars align and you fill that net, cast, after cast ,after cast.
So, if you’re looking to do more than take your rod and pack for a walk, keep reading…
Match the Hatch
People say this phrase time and time again. Why? Because it helps anglers land fish! Matching the hatch is all about observing your surroundings. Scope out the surface – What bugs are coming off the water? Reach under your feet – What bugs are hanging out under rocks?
If mayflies are coming off and swarming you, pick a dry from your fly box. If scuds are scurrying away when you pull the rocks above water, grab a look-alike from your box. And if you’re seeing fish either sipping the surface or rocketing out of the creek with no sign of bugs flying around, it’s time to tie on a dry-dropper rig so you can get some surface action with a wet fly and/or a beadhead nymph underneath to cover all levels of the water column.
You’re increasing your odds of landing fish when you use some quick situational awareness and match whatever bug(s)/action might be happening around you.
Keep on Keepin’ On
Some days, I can fish the lakeshore and crush it. I set up camp, let the dog/kids hang out in the shade, and I’m within arms-reach…all while landing fish., after fish, after fish. Unfortunately, that scenario isn’t always the case. Sometimes, you need to move for feet to find what you seek: more fish.
When fishing lakeshores, consider navigating your way around, aiming for the shaded sections on hot days or going deeper with a bugger, if needed. On the river, movement is nearly always a must. You might have a favorite a sweet spot behind some boulders, but keep moving upstream to the next hole to find equally-hungry fish.
Put ‘em Back
That’s right, this is your public service announcement for catch & release. I get it, you’re coming under the stars and you want a fish fry on the campfire tonight with the wild caught trout you proudly landed that morning. That’s totally cool! Go for it. But on an average day, on an average piece of water – and even on a dream day at a life-long destination spot – consider landing those fish (gently and respectfully), snap a photo and set them free.
The more fish we land and release, the more bigger, older, (maybe even more challenging and fun!) fish we can chase another day.
Based in southern Colorado, Ryan is a photographer, outdoorswoman, fish chaser, and proud mama to two wild Outdoors-loving kiddos. When not wrangling little ones or cattle dogs, you’ll find her on the water, on a trail or on the road looking for the next piece of water and (hopefully) high country trout.