The Stream Doctor

June 27th, 2005

Email YOUR Questions directly to the Stream Doctor. This is your opportunity to get an experts professional opinion on anything stream related.

Q. I occasionally fish the Owens River in the Eastern Sierras. They stock it regularly and I have done well with little panther martin spinners and nightcrawlers. My question is is it possible to catch freshly stocked trout on a fly rod and if so, what flies and techniques should I use? I am 17 and would appreciate your advice if possible. Sincerely, Jeremy Davis

A. Jeremy, it is certainly possible to catch stocked trout on a fly rod. In reality, that's what a big share of fly anglers are catching when they fly fish. Most fly anglers would rather catch wild trout and many of them concentrate on fishing waters where little or no stocking is done and the chances to catch wild fish are greater. However, the cold, hard facts are that many of our waters simply aren't productive enough to furnish enough fish for the large numbers of fly anglers that are present.

On the other hand, Montana stopped stocking trout in their streams when the biologists discovered that the stocked trout adversely impacted the wild trout populations; the rivers and streams produced more fish naturally if left unstocked.

As to flies and methods, this is pretty tough to answer in any definitive way. I guess I'd select my flies in two ways: (1) stick with standard, productive patterns (Adams, Wulffs, Elk-hair Caddis, etc.), or, better yet, (2) talk with folks at your local fly shops; they should be able to advise you on popular and productive patterns for the waters you are fishing. Fly fishing techniques basically involve either fishing your flies dry, where they are floating on the water surface imitating emerged adults, or fishing your flies wet, that is, below the surface where you are basically imitating the immature nymphs and larvae living and drifting in the water. There are way too many variations on these two approaches that I can't go into them here. A great book (and inexpensive) for beginners is a paper-cover book entitled The Curtis Creek Manifesto. At first glance, it looks like a comic book, but it contains a wealth of good, basic information on fly fishing; I often use it for beginning classes.

Another positive aspect of fly fishing is that it is easier and more successful to release fish unharmed back to the water so that they can live to fight another day. ~ Bert

If you have a question, please feel free to contact me.
~ C. E. (Bert) Cushing, aka Streamdoctor
105 W. Cherokee Dr.
Estes Park, CO 80517
Phone: 970-577-1584

The 'Stream Doctor' is a retired professional stream ecologist and author, now living in the West and spending way too much time fly-fishing. You are invited to submit questions relating to anything stream related directly to him for use in this Q & A Feature at

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