I went fishing last Friday at one of my favorite little rivers. I hadn't had much luck yet this year
but I'm still learning how to present different patterns for different times of year
, and I'm not discouraged. Whether I catch a fish or not, I love being on the water.
I confirmed an assumption about fishing that has nothing to do with the bait, rod, or waders that you use. Success on the river often depends on who is there.
Yes, fishing with friends is fun. I enjoy a nice relaxing afternoon out in the rowboat having a beverage or two and a good time with a friend. However, I have recently confirmed (I always assumed) that trout fishing with a friend can be detrimental, especially depending on their stream etiquette
Last week I went fishing a few times. The first day it was opening day and there were people everywhere, all excited to get on the water. Didn't even get a bite. On Wednesday I went to an unfamiliar place after work with a friend for a couple of hours, and didn't get a bite. On Friday, I went by myself, and got several bites, and landed a fish. On Sunday, I went to a familiar stream with a couple other friends, and didn't get a bite.
I don't think this is a coincidence at all. I believe that my chances of catching something while fishing by myself are much higher than my chances of landing anything while fishing with others. Although, everybody practiced better stream etiquette, these results would likely be different.
Before I get into my successful fishing trip last Friday, I'd like to share some Stream Etiquette Tips, so you we'll all have more fun and better luck. These following guidelines should be kept in mind when encountering other fishermen on the water:
- Keep Your Distance - You should try to stay a few yards away from the water, so your movements and shadow do not spook the fish. If you need to cross the stream near another angler, do so respectfully. Find a spot a few hundred feet either upstream or downstream, and step lightly.
- Observe & Assess - If you see another fisherman in the spot that you would like to be fishing, take a look at what they are doing. If the angler is fishing upstream, or down, do not enter the water where they are headed. If the fisherman is on the side of the stream, don't assume that you can walk out into the spot. The angler may be resting or observing his spot.
- Yield To The Right Of Way - If you are fishing downstream, and you come across an angler fishing upstream, they have the right of way. When you get within a few casts of the upstream angler, ease your way over to the bank and let them pass.
- Fish On = Lines Out - If your fishing buddy has a fish on, get your line out of the water. They may need to move up or downstream to land the fish, stay out of the way. If said fisherman has to move out of his spot to land the fish, this is not a green light for you to move in. If they were there first, it's their spot.
- Remember How You Learned - If you come across an obvious beginner, be tolerant. You weren't born being able to roll cast a fly within 6 inches of the bank, and neither were they. If someone asks for help/advice, share some with them. After all, how did you learn?
Okay, got that out of the way. If we all try to follow these simple guidelines, we'll probably catch more fish, and have more fun. And if we're not having fun, then what are we doing out there in the first place?
So on Friday I headed to the river, and after an hour or two of changing flies and trying different things, I came up to a stretch of river where fish were visibly (and audibly) breaking the surface of the water as they were feeding.
My first thought was, "they're rising for dry flies!" So I tied on a dry and cast it a few yards upstream of the splashes, I got several good drifts, and could tell that the fish were paying no attention to the fly whatsoever. So I tied another dry on - same shape, different color. No luck.
Then I remembered at one point somebody told me that most of the trout's diet is found under the surface of the water, and that splashing fish are often mistaken for rising fish. So I stood in the river for a few minutes and watched what was drifting down the river under the surface. Nymphs. Everywhere.
These nymphs were about 1/2 inch long, and were a dark color, with a short tail. I tied on a Size 14 Hare's Ear Nymph (the closest match in my flybox) and threw a cast out. After two or three more casts, I had a bite. Excited, I attempted to set the hook and yanked the nymph right out of the fish's mouth. This is something that I really need to work on.
After a couple more bites I finally had a fish on the line. I had the thing almost halfway over to me, and it broke off. Damn!
I waded over to the side of the river to rest that stretch of water. After about 10 minutes, I started to see the splashes again. I headed back over, and threw a cast out. I let the nymph drift all the way through the spot, no bite. At the end of the drift the nymph felt no more slack on the line, and began rising to the surface
before I retrieved for another cast. I lightly raised my rod to begin the retrieve, and felt a tug. I set the hook (delicately
) and landed the fish with the help of my new net
A nice size Brown Trout!
I think this fish was probably a holdover from stocking a year or two before, it didn't appear to be wild, but was probably 14-15 inches long. Nice! I released the fish back into the river in hopes that I can catch it again.
(That Brown Trout that I caught this winter
is still in my freezer, no need to keep another until I eat that one).
So one week into the season and I've gotten my first trout out of the way. No pressure now. I can just focus on my fishing, and my surroundings.
I hope to get out again this weekend at some point, was thinking about heading up to the Schroon River. Do any of you know any productive spots on that river? Close to the lake? Further downstream towards Warrensburg? Even an angler's access point would help. Thanks!