In Search of Fish – It’s all lies, the addendum.

15 Apr

I realize my last post was left a little short. All apologies, I am listening and away we go.

Fishing structure is important, I said that last time. Everyone says it, and the fish must be listening. From my experience, fish mainly react to three things; food, structure and water temperature.

As for chasing food, fish like to hang out where food is easy to come by, whether drifting/floating past (insects, tree parts, etc.), easily ambushed (smaller fish, mice, ducklings), or present in or on the local bottom or flora (insects, worms, molluscs).

Lots of nice fishy structure. Photo – NRCS

As mentioned last time, structure creates seams in the current. These ridges of fast and slow moving water allow fish to sit and they expend very little energy while a buffet drifts past in the faster water. It is like a well placed diner in a buffet restaurant. Close enough to the dessert cart route for easy access to the fresh selection.

To locate the lions share of these seams look for rocks, standing waves, back eddies, boiling surface water, and foam lines.

If you are trying to dead drift flies, place casts beside the object causing the seam and follow the current past the object.  If there are fish in those lanes they may be enticed to dart out and grab your offering.

Another way of fishing these seams is to swing a woolly bugger, streamer or soft hackle in to the pocket. Start with a cast upstream and off to one side of the rock/bump/hump/log, while controlling the drift allow the fly to ‘swim’ toward the rock and tuck in beside and behind the structure. This is great for getting reaction/ambush strikes from brown trout and Smallmouth bass. I plan on using Cheech’s Low Fat Minnow for some of this work this summer. (Quite possibly my new favorite pattern, you should check it out.)

Locating structure while fishing moving water is pretty straight forward, use your eyes, and common sense and you can locate great fish lies.

Fishing stillwater presents a different set of challenges.

As any bass guy with a fish finder will tell you, you really don’t have to find every fish, just a few and a repeatable structure pattern, and that is the ticket.  Logs in 6-8 ft of water, weedbeds, weedlines, buoys, channels, rocky drop offs… when you find a few fish and can find that type structure elsewhere you will probably continue to have success.  Trout in lake environments do have more of a tendency to cruise around but if you start by fishing a drop off or weedbed then I think you can increase your chances of locating the fish.  Trolling may be taboo for some, but for me if I don’t know where to start on a big lake trolling a woolly bugger or muddler minnow on a full sink line, can show you where those fish are hiding.

One idea that was new to me came from a Phil Rowley seminar I attended. He talked about the washing line method.  The name made no sense to me until I saw a diagram.  Phil said a sinking line with a big weighted nymph or streamer tied on a leader, with a second buoyant fly trailing behind it was the ticket for slow trolling over dropoffs for rainbow trout out west.  It works in my local river working slowly down the channel.  I use a big foam dragonfly nymph trailing behind a white wooly bugger to work weedbed edges and beside beaver dams.

Fisherman should innately understand this structure game. We fisherman are doing the same thing when we place ourselves so we can make the perfect cast to the good structure in a river. We do our best to set up ourselves for success, same as any fish working around a piece of structure.

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