Some recent success with streamers caused me to ask the question: why?
I considered what cosmic alignment of circumstances joined man and fish. I often consider these questions, and, if I followed the thread far enough on this particular question, I could write volumes. But, this is a fishing blog, so, I’ll begin my study at the riverbank and let you ponder on your own any deeper thought as to how the fish and I really got there.
Over the last few weeks, I capitalized on the predictability of large brown trout and decided to experiment. I covered the same stretch of water three weekends in a row and connected with several big brown trout on each occasion. I never caught the same fish twice. When I considered why these big fish held here so consistently, I realized a few valuable lessons that I tucked away for future use.
I would love to know more about how trout move in the river, but, short of a detailed, scientific study, I’m left to evaluate the available evidence that comes by way of experience and observation. Some anglers have years of experience and observation on a particular river. When it comes to my current endeavor, I don’t fall into this category, but, I’ve been fortunate to speak to a few anglers who do have years of experience, and, I take careful note of what they say.
When I have a successful outing or when I connect with a good fish, I consider the circumstances in an effort to identify patterns or conditions that might allow me to replicate the experience in the future. Recent success with post-spawn fish on streamers highlighted a few valuable lessons that will hopefully allow me to replicate the experience after next year’s spawn and put a few more fish in the net throughout the year.
Lesson #1: We know fish move to spawn and will eventually move to water that is favorable for the winter. We know post-spawn fish feed heavily. We know what kind of habitat brown trout use to spawn, and, we of course know the deeper pools and runs that provide the best winter habitat.
If we consider these two distinctly different habitats as points A and B, I focused my efforts over the past few weeks on prime lies located in between A and B. On each outing, I found these lies occupied by large trout that were willing to hit a streamer
Lesson #2: The streamer obviously worked well because the actively-feeding fish wanted a high-calorie meal.
When I ran into Jo last weekend, we talked about streamer technique and came to the conclusion that this particular stretch of water presented significant challenges for other methods, particularly methods requiring a drag-free drift. The streamer, on the other hand, worked best when retrieved or swung across the current and worked well at long-range. The lesson here comes in the application of this technique as an option to cover similar water at different times throughout the year.
Moving around later in the day with my Euro-nymphing rod, I came across a tight, out-of-the-way area that I recognized as a “point A”, that is, ideal spawning habitat.
A nearby prime lie, with deep water, current, and structure became my target. After a few unproductive drifts where I couldn’t quite get into position to present my nymphs properly, I cut off my point fly and tied on a weighted streamer. Dead drifting, swinging, and stripping the fly back allowed me to cover the entire lie from multiple angles and resulted in a beautiful 15″ wild brown. One of my smaller fish, but an absolute joy nonetheless because of its pristine condition and because of the lesson behind the catch.
This experience reinforced the importance of covering water thoroughly and the importance of adaptability. I can imagine a few other scenarios where a quick changeover to a streamer on the Euro rig might put an additional fish or two in the net.
I can’t fish this coming weekend, so I can’t say whether the pattern I discovered would produce yet again, but it’s not getting any warmer and sooner or later water temperatures will make the water I’ve been fishing impractical.
I can say, however, that I’ll look for this pattern next year and will probably have a streamer in my working fly box between now and then.