Eye of the Guide


Tom Travis - Jun 18, 2012

Sysadmin Note
Part Eight can be found here

June 30th, today the Yellowstone River reached an all time high with flows over 38,000 CFS (Cubic Feet Per Second), yet the spring creeks are still safe. In 1974 we had what was called the fifty year flood, in 1996 we had the hundred year flood and that was followed in 1997 by the five hundred year flood. On each of these floods the river flows set new records. So is 2011 the thousand year flood, or do we start over with the new century. These designations are assigned by those who monitor and chart the annual flows of the river. Normally by this date the river would be dropping and beginning to clear and the Salmon Flies who have already begun to hatch. Due to the unusual winter all the normal signs of the season have been - shall we say washed away? All of the area rivers are still high and the fishing is questionable at best, expect of course for the spring creeks which are fishable.

The PMD hatch began around 11 A.M. and continued till 2:30 P.M. the emergence was steady, but by no means was it a heavy hatch. Because of the sparseness of the emergence the trout were not holding in a fixed feeding position, but were moving around and feeding during the entire hatch.

This kind of behavior is hard on the angler as you must keep your target in sight, unless you enjoy just casting to an area where there may or may not be a feeding trout. Also during hatches of this type not all of the trout will be feeding on same form of the insect and they also can be feeding in several different levels of the water column. Therefore the angler needs to be observant and willing to change imitations when moving from trout to trout. Here are my thoughts on solving angling problems.

Figuring out----angling Situations
(Becoming one of the 10% Anglers)

Figuring out what is going to work on any given day on the body of water that is being fished is a problem that every angler faces. On some days the answer is easy and obvious, however there are a number of days that the problem of what to use is a problem that contains a great many variables.

When I start of discourse of this nature, I am often accused of making fly fishing more complex that it needs to be. But guess what? Fly fishing is complex. Many authors have written about the ten percent of the anglers who catch 90% of the trout. Stories have been related about those anglers who on the toughest day afield still seem to be able to take a few fish, when everyone else has gone fishless.

These anglers are no necessarily the best technical anglers, do they all carry the most complete fly selections. They are however imbued with two items which allows them to be successful. The first is knowledge and the second is the willingness to be observant and then make good decisions based on the two.

Over the years I have meant many anglers who are always looking for the killer fly pattern, proclaiming that with the said magic pattern that no fish would be safe from them. However, sadly the fly pattern itself is only a very small only a very small part of the solution. I have been fishing for fifty years and have been guiding for thirty five years and I can tell that with any fishing situation that I have ever encountered, there were several fly patterns which would be effective not just a single pattern.

I can also tell you that most angling problems are not that hard to solve if you would only stop fishing, take a step back and observe the situation. A lot of problems are nothing more than being familiar with the setting and applying a little old fashion common sense. There are two main factors which will allow the angler to most effectively solve any given angling situations, these are knowledge and observation.

Angling Knowledge is broken down in several segments they are;

  1. Tools of the trade, which mean tackle, basic presentation methods and casting.
  2. Knowledge of the Trout.
  3. Knowledge of the food form the trout will feed on and the cycle of availability of that food form. If this is a hatching insect, knowledge of what other food forms that could be available to the feeding trout.
  4. Knowledge of the water type being fished, current speed, depth and cover available to the trout.
  5. Knowledge of the weather cycles and the weather forecast for time you will be fishing.
  6. Checking out local fishing information, if you are not on home water.

Observation is simply taking time to observe the trout and where and how they are feeding, by doing so you increase your chances of being successful. Even though I have been talking about observation for year and the need for it anglers to simply stop and look, it seem that it is one of most difficult demands that I make.

Look at this way----if you see no active trout feeding, why are you failing the water in the first place. Why not take the time to observe and see what is available for the trout to eat. Then you could possibly select a nymph or pair of nymphs and present them along the bottom of the stream, which will offer a greater chance of success.

However, if the trout are feeding heavily and you have not been able to entice the trout with your offering, again why not stop fishing and closely observe where and how the trout are feeding. Using an insect net determine what the trout are feeding on. Unless the trout are feeding on the surface to adults, that would be readily observed, I am talking about collecting insect in the area of the water column that the trout are feeding.

This knowledge will allow you to select the proper imitation and present it to the trout's feeding zone in the proper manner. Besides what have you got to lose, if you are not catching trout, take the time to stop and watch it will allow you to be successful rather than frustrated.

Enjoy & Good Fishin'

Sysadmin Note
Part Ten can be found here


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