Fly Fishing 101, Part 11
Finding the Fish
"Charlie Wallant stood on the high
embankment overlooking the river and said: "So this is the Lamoille."
As I tugged at my wading shoe I
wondered where I would start him off. The water directly
below us was shallow and sandy; it usually held a few small
trout, but it was not worth fishing in the daylight. At the tail
of the long flat there was a pyramid-shaped rock, its point
barely breaking the surface, where I had taken a 17-inch
brown just a year ago this very weekend. That should be
a good place, I thought, for Charley to make his maiden
cast in Vermont water.
Hurrying, I gave the lacing a yank and it snapped.
"Take your time," Charley said.
"I'll go along down and take a look at this fabulous river of yours."
By the time I was ready he had
passed out of sight. I sloshed through the edge of a
shallow flat and caught up with him at the pyramid-shaped
rock. He had a trout on.
I should have known he would find
the place. Anyone who can "read" the surface of a trout
stream would recognize it as a perfect lie for trout and
would know at a glance that the broad, shallow flat above
it would be barren except perhaps in the evening, when
trout might move into it to cruise for hatching flies."
What you have just read is from a
book first published in 1950, written by beloved American
sportsman H.G. Tapply, in
The Sportsman's Notebook.
Long out of print, it is another book to look for in used
bookstores. It contains a lifetime of experience, translated
into practical ways to improve your skills in a variety of
So if you were standing on that stream,
how do you know where the fish are? What are the key things
to look for? Tappely gave us reader information in this little
mystery. The shallow flats would only be a possible at dusk
or after dark. Why? As Tapply said, "... when trout might
move into it to cruise for hatching flies."
Another clue ... the pyramid-shaped
rock. Picture the water flowing around the rock, and you
see a calm area directly in front of the rock, and the current
on both sides of the calm area. Food will be floating by on
either side on the current. Areas between calm and faster
water develop quite pronounced current edges - which fishers
call seams. The faster water is also broken water - that
is, the surface of the water is not smooth. That gives the fish
a certain amount of cover — protection from their enemies.
Experienced fisherman carefully watch
or "read" the water; fish areas that should be productive and
skip over places that don't have the proper requirements to
keep the fish there. Those places that do have the elements
to keep fish are called holding water.
What keeps fish in a particular area?
Fish have three basic needs: food, cover, and a resting place.
There are other variations of those, such as fish looking for
warmer water in the spring when the water is uncomfortably
cold — or cooler water in summer when water temperatures rise.
The first instance puts fish in shallow
areas of the stream which the sun has warmed even a few
degrees. In the second example the fish move into shaded
portions of the stream or to the mouth of a small feeder
stream where the water is cooler. Both are examples of
the fish seeking comfort.
It will help you immensely in your
fly fishing if you start thinking like a fish. If the weather is
hot, where do you want to be? In a cooler, shady spot?
So does the fish.
More here next time on finding the fish.
Stop by the Chat Room and meet some fellow anglers. It is a nice
bunch of people - always willing to help new fly fishers! Or just share your
fishing adventures. Fair skys and tight lines, ~ DB
Have a question? Email me!