Finding Trout In Freestone Streams
When you're fishing a freestone stream, you most likely try to place your fly in
every likely pocket, current seam or any other place a trout could be holding.
Even the clearest lie can conceal a trout. If you place your fly in the right spot, a
trout may take it, that is, if a trout is there. If trout are not there then you
certainly want get a rise. If a trout is there, then you may or may not get a rise
depending on many factors some of which are in your control and some of which
are not in your control. If you don’t get a rise, you either try again or you move
on the next likely holding spot.
In many cases, anglers prefer to locate trout by spotting the fish or their rises,
but in small, headwater, freestone streams you are usually not usually able to
spot them. Never-the-less, most successful anglers try to envision a trout in each
and every likely spot. In other words, they consider that if a trout did exist in that
lie, exactly where it would be positioned and exactly where it would be feeding.
Of course, you also must first take into consideration the type of food the trout
may be eating, not necessarily what species of trout food, more particularly if the
trout may be feeding on food that is drifting on the bottom, somewhere beneath
the surface or floating on the surface of the water.
If you do spot a trout, then you want to plan a way to approach it, select a fly to
best imitate whatever it is you think it may be taking and then make your
presentation. You know the fish is there. It's up to you to catch it.
When you are fishing fast pocket water, moving from one pocket, current seam
or likely holding spot to another, you don’t ever know if a fish was there or not,
unless you spook them. This is the nature of fishing freestone streams. It's
completely different from fishing spring creeks, for example, where you are able
to determine if a fish is in a certain place or not. Instead of finding a feeding fish
and approaching it to try to catch it, you fish in place you "think" a fish may be
Most of the time, there's not enough of any one insect or other food for the trout
to be feeding on selectively. In other words, there are no hatches taking place.
Since there's a lot of water that could cover up a trout, there are a lot of places
you could place your fly to try to get a fish to take it. If you cover them all, you
will be spending a lot of time casting to places where there simply are no fish. If
you only present your fly in places where fish are most likely holding, then you
are going to increase your odds tremendously.
Assuming you make good presentations, use the right fly and don't spook the
trout, presenting your fly in the most likely holding lies is the only way you can
increase your odds of catching trout in small, fast water freestone streams. If you
were fishing competitively, against others and thank goodness you this isn't the
case in most trout streams, you would go a step farther. You would only present
your fly in the most likely holding lies or the choice places. In other words, you
would make your first cast count, and make only one or two more cast and
then you would move on.
In the competitive bass fishing world they call this the hit and run approach.
Instead of fishing a hundred yards of the stream in an hour you would fish it in
ten minutes only casting to the most likely holding spots.
Am I recommending this method of fishing? No, I'm not. Trout fishing would
become work and less fun. I am strictly trying to point out the way you increase
your odds of catching fish in small, fast water freestone streams. You only place
your fly in the likely holding and feeding lies.
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
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