How To Fish Stillwaters

May 17th, 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

Diet Composition in Lakes

By Philip Rowley

...the purpose of this book is to link an understanding of stillwater food sources to fly design. Obtaining the right fly and presenting it in the right fashion is only one facet of this methodology. An integral part of this concept comes from knowing when to fish one pattern over another. Traditionally we have used the obvious visual clues Mother Nature provides for us. The reality is that Mother Nature tends to hide most of these clues beneath the water's surface.

Since my initial baptism pursuing stillwater trout I have become obsessed with understanding the relative importance of each food item in the diet of the trout. Whenever I go fishing I keep comprehensive notes regarding air and water temperatures, lunar phase, successful flies, retrieves, and wind direction. But by far my most important observations are obtained from stomach analysis. Through the use of a stomach pump, the odd fish I kept and being a pest around the cleaning stations I found out exactly what stillwater trout were feasting upon. You should see the looks you get when you ask another angler if you can sift through the entrails of a fish they just cleaned. I have been making this a regular habit for over 10 years and the results have been startling. I know what food sources appear regularly and when they are most likely to appear. Knowing what and when makes pattern selection an easier chore throughout the season. Keep in mind my observations have been primarily confined to British Columbia and eastern Washington. Although each area lake differs somewhat in terms of food sources and fish behavior, I feel confident basing my initial strategies can be applied to any body water with reasonable success.

From my 10-plus years of note taking I have compiled the following diet composition charts. I have I included a complete chart identifying the trout's feeding preferences over the complete season. In addition, I have broken down my data to give a snapshot of the spring, summer and fall. I hope fly-fishers find these charts both educational and interesting. ~ PR

The Seasonal Charts next time!

Credits: Excerpt from Fly Patterns for Stillwaters By Philip Rowley, published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.

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