How To Fish Stillwaters

April 5th, 2004

Stillwaters, lakes, ponds and reservoirs are the most underutilized fisheries in the North America. Why? Because the average fly fisher doesn't know how to fish them, or where to start. Stay tuned, you too can master stillwaters! ~ LadyFisher

Float Tube Magic
Float Tube Fly Fishing Strategies, Part 5

By Patricia C. Pothier

Weather Changes and Strategies

Usually fly fishers consider wind to be an enemy, but for lake fishing it can mean the difference between catching and not catching fish, particularly during the summer doldrums when the trout are less active and hatches have slowed down. Wind stirs up the surface water which both oxygenates it and reduces the temperature, thus making the surface water more comfortable for insects and trout. Fish and fish food will often rise from the depths to this zone of comfort. Also, on cloudy, stormy days trout may feel less vulnerable and may be more willing to approach the surface.

The best fishing on a windy day is on the downwind shore (the direction that the wind blows toward) because insects will be blown in that direction and pile up along the shoreline. Wind currents may also stir up the weeds causing the release of insects from their safe hiding places. Surface rising fish will face the waves to catch food that is moved by the wind, so you need to angle your cast up into the wind and let your fly drift to the fish. When the fish are feeding at deeper levels on windy days cast downwind. The lower water currents run opposite the surface wave action as they bounce off the shore and cause the fish to again face into the current. You can station yourself off shore, kick backward and cast toward the shore.

While there are some advantages to a windy day, wind can also be problematic. [That's the author in the photo above reaping the rewards the wind bring to the trout and the fly fisher.] Casting into the wind is hard work and can make it difficult to cast accurately. In addition, it can be difficult to control your line and to position yourself in a strategic place. Long rods matched for heavy weight lines (8-9) help counteract the force of the wind, along with changing casting techniques. The backcast should be snapped just past the 12 o'clock position, pause for line straightening and loading and then a forceful forward movement, stopping at the 9 o'clock position for release. And, the cast should be angled toward the wind rather than directly into it. If you cast directly upwind, you will find line around your feet and in casting directly downwind you may drift right into your line.

A word of caution regarding tubing in windy weather. Waves may lap all around you and into your tube, but your tube will not sink. With rain gear you won't even get wet. The danger comes from overestimating your own stamina to kick back to shore and/or underestimating the strength of the wind. If you have concerns about your ability to kick back to your launching place, it is best to move close to shore where you can still take advantage of windy fishing opportunities. And, if you are caught in a heavy wind that you cannot handle, don't panic. You may need to let yourself be blown to shore and either walk back or wait for the wind to subside before returning to your launch site.

Although inclement weather, particularly wind, can improve fishing, large storm systems with fluctuating barometric pressure can also turn the fishing off. Barometric pressure changes are associated with both fishing success and/or failure. With rapid barometric changes, either high or low, there is often an associated increase in insect activity and trout feeding, thus making for good fishing. However, if the barometer begins to drop slowly, you may notice in the middle of a productive hatch a sudden drop in insect activity and in fish feeding. Also, if the hatch you were expecting at 10 a.m. fails to arrive, it could also be related to weather changes. When the weather interferes with hatching and you want to continue fishing, you should switch to crustaceans, leeches and nymphs near the bottom rather than on rising insects such as emerging damsel or Callibaetis nymphs. ~ PCP

More Strategies next time.

Credits: Excerpt from Float Tube Magic By Patricia C. Potheir, published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.

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