This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
June 9th, 2008

The Right Place at the Right Time

The almost perfect scenario for a dry fly fisherman is to hit a hatch or spinner fall. Hatching being when the flies are coming off the water, and the spinner fall when the flies are coming back to the water to deposit their eggs. In both instances the fish are 'looking up' expecting to find food on the water's surface.

With some prior planning and knowledge of which insects appear when, you can improve your chances of hitting that magic time.

There isn't anything wrong with fishing a Woolly Bugger, but if you have mayflies hatching and the fish are taking them on the surface, it seems a waste to be dredging the bottom with the Woolly Bugger. If you don't know one insect from another, we have an excellent section here, called Not Quite Entomology. There is good information, but not quite as detailed, as in the Fly Fishing 101 section HERE.

For the sake of discussion, let's imagine we're on the mainstream of the Au Sable River in Michigan, it's early June. Yes, we have hatches, Sulphers, Brown Drakes, and Stone flies (yellow). Now, decisions. Which fly to use? When? The sulphers will be out late afternoon to evening. The Drakes more likely to be hatching during the day, and the big stones - hatching at dusk.

How do we know that? Sometimes from personal experience of being there. Sometimes from reading everything you can about a particular river or region. Or checking the web sites of local fly shops - some like Gates Au Sable River Lodge have good hatch charts online. You might be lucky and have a friend who is familiar with this water and can give you a leg up. Without doing some homework, you are almost doomed to a nice time fishing, not catching.

It takes some experience, patience and time to be a successful fly fisher. In that time you will learn how to read the water. You better learn it, because if you don't, you're out of business. Where will the fish be? Facing which way? What is their holding position? How about feeding lane? Is there structure? Rocks? Fast and slow water? Riffles?

Assume you have the proper fly, it is floating nice and high. Your fly line and leader are working perfectly. Where do you make the cast? Can you put your fly in the right place without the various currents drowning the fly? How long a drag-free float can you get? Have you ever tried to see how long a float you can get? Do you have to mend your line? Do you know how?

Can you present your fly in such a way that it appears to be a natural? What kind of a cast will it take to do that? Where are the fish? Can you make relatively short casts and extend the length of the casts as you work the water? (The idea is not to scare off any fish by having your fly line go over them.) Fish the water closest to you first.

How far ahead have you planned? If you hook a nice fish, what then? Where will the fish most likely go? Is there down brush or downed tree in the water which could cause you to break the fish off? How do you keep the fish from going there? Providing you keep the fish under control, where will you land it?

You can catch fish. You might not catch them every time you think you should, but if you spend some time going over the comments a above, you can upgrade your chances tremendously.

It is always more than being in the right place at the right time. You have to have the right stuff too. ~ The LadyFisher

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