Scouting to Fish Like a Pro by Lloyd Metcalf
It wasn't too long ago that if someone told me that choosing your flies and hunting were one in the same, I would pretend to listen and continue on my way. The truth is, hunting and fishing are forever intertwined sports that compliment one another in many ways. The skills that make for a successful deer season can make a successful fishing season. More than a few times, while out fishing I have come across great hunting spots, and while out hunting, come across great fishing holes. If you are out in the woods or out on the water both activities are more than likely somewhere in your mind.
So what does choosing a fly fishing pattern really have to do with hunting? Most successful hunters spend a great deal of time scouting out their hunting grounds ahead of time, outside of the season, watching droppings, prints vegetation. When the fall hunting season comes around, they know where the game is, what they are eating, where they sleep and what is in the environment they are living in. Fishing is very similar. A fisherman(woman) is doing nothing more than hunting for fish. Choosing a fly pattern is hunting for their food. We are a bit more limited on how we retrieve our prey when fishing with rod/reel though, we must exploit a fishes desire to eat, or protect its territory. A few patterns peak curiosity from a fish, but these hits are light and difficult to turn into success. For the majority of fishermen, we concern ourselves mostly with what our prey is eating. An effective way of getting a hook into a fishes mouth.
Just like a consistently successful hunter, you will need to scout your targeted area if you want to be 100% prepared like a pro when the season comes around. If this isn't possible there is a list of generally generic and accepted patterns that cover a range of insects and choosing one at the bank based on what you see can work reasonably well. Many fly tying kits are made just for stream-side tying to match the hatch".
However, you are more likely to come home with a full creel if you are willing to spend just a few minutes researching the environment you are about to fish, the species you want to target, and the flora and fauna in, on, and around the water. Isn't that the reason your boss hooked all the company computers up to the internet? The more time you devote to looking at the environment, the more likely you will be successful when your line hits the water.
A little organization will also go a long way in your endeavor to be a professional fly fisher. Just a little notepad kept over the visor in your car will make a world of difference ensuring your success at any spot. Lets assume you have a general location in mind like a section of XYZ River. Make a note of where you want to fish, and leave a number of pages open for notes about the location. Some important considerations are what the water looks like at low levels and how it flows. Knowing what's under the water can be invaluable, especially in tidal waters and rivers. All species of fish use structure in one way or another for different reasons. The right fly might be on your line, but you have to be able to get it near where the fish are hunting. Sometimes a simple map doodled on a page noting rocks and formations at low water times can be the most valuable thing in your waders or tacklebox.
Not many folks are aware, but nymphs are in the water for a long part of the winter. A little investigation can even begin as early as January and February to find out what's swimming in the water and hatching under the rocks. I usually like walking near the edge of the river turning over an occasional rock to see what's lurking underneath. Also if you have a little fine mesh aquarium net, bring it along. Rolling over a few rocks and quickly running the net through the water or across the rocks will yield results quite often. Even if you aren't sure at what sort of bug you are looking at, make a little sketch of its general shape and notes about its appearance. These nymphs will be growing through the winter and getting ready to head to the surface in April, when most fishermen are hitting the water. A little research online will usually yield an answer about the species you have captured. If you still can't be sure pop your specimen in a little glass bottle filled with rubbing alcohol to preserve and end its life humanely. A trip to your local fly shop, college campus, or library will certainly yield many answers, and sometimes more opinions than you want. Once you have a name for your critter, finding out about its life cycle is easy with a Google or similar search.
As the season draws on, occasionally stopping into your potential spot on XYZ river and looking around closely will yield many clues about what's going on in and around the water. While many fish species like trout and salmon travel a long way to reach certain places in XYZ River, Bass, perch and Crappie like to stay put in a general and familiar length of water. All fish that end up in this section of river will be looking at the same food sources. It can also be important to note what sorts of minnows and shiners are darting through the water at your approach. Fish that are seeking minnows look for certain characteristics, most beginning with profile, size, then color and behavior. Sometimes a little time at the waters edge with a small dry fly can catch you a minnow from a recent hatch. This can give you many hints about what fish are in the water, and what the omnivores and carnivores are hunting for. This can dictate what type of streamer patterns you keep in your fly box.
By the time you are approaching the month or weeks before the big fishing day, you most likely have a good idea of what sort of bugs are under and on the water and where they will be in their life cycle when you hit the water with your buddies. How does all this affect your fly selection you ask?
Simple. If you are hitting the stretch of Water on XYZ river in mid April, you know that there will be predominantly two or three types of insects in the water. You also know what stage of life they are in and what they are doing. This means you can empty out your fly box and fill it up with three patterns of a couple different sizes and maybe two or three flies resembling the fish species hatching out. After your online research and checking the bank you will know what they are doing and where in the water column they are swimming or crawling. Why bother with 20 patterns that cover every bug in the nation? You will spend far less time changing flies and fiddling with knots if you already know what insects are in the water and how they are behaving. While your fishing crew is spending time guessing and discussing patterns, or tying them on the bank, you will be focused on looking for the perfect swirl or eddie, all your guesswork is gone. You will be putting your fly in the water with confidence and most likely success. The casual fisherman might have the right pattern, but be fishing the river bed, when the nymphs are rising. Some might be fishing the surface when they are clinging to the rock beds.
I am fishing out of state on a weeks vacation, I can't possibly do all this scouting before I hit the water!
No sweat, remember when your boss installed that internet connection? Now is your chance to put it to good use. Set aside all those sales reports, production data and what not and get to some serious business.... Fishing! Just keep those reports on top so with one click you can pretend to be working!
The internet is a wonderful resource, but like so many other things that feed us information these days, you must weed out fact from fiction. A little entomology research will tell you what sorts of insects will be on the water when you get there. Often times, local fly shops and small tackle shop owners will be more than glad to chat on the phone, or have an email conversation about what the locals are buying and some suggestions. I encourage visiting small single owner shops for a few reasons. For one, I am the owner of a small single owner shop. For another, the guys at the big chains and huge sporting goods shops might have a lot of knowledge about the products they carry, are probably sportsmen themselves, but often don't have the time to carry out a personal conversation. Also many times the big chains just need to fill jobs slots, and you won't always be talking to a person of experience. Some will admit they don't know anything about the topic. I like these folks. I thank them for their honesty and ask if they know where I can look for someone who might know. Often though, in the fear of job performance some sales folks on the floor of a large chain will just throw out an answer that sounds reasonable, and sometimes is a long way from fact. Small flyshop owners get even more willing to share the local secrets of what will be hatching and where to fish when you leave your name, email and promise to stop in when you come for vacation. This happened to me last spring and my favored tourist found a small box of sample flies awaiting for free and met another customer who had the latest news of the fella" from down the way who pulled in a big brown on a size 14 olive bugger right off the bottom down there just under the falls.
These kinds of visits just don't happen at the major sporting goods chain stores. The likelihood of finding a local milling about, drinking coffee and flapping his gums about the most recent catch at a major chain isn't very likely either. The prices can sometimes be a little higher at the small shop, not always, but sometimes. You have to ask yourself though, if you walk into a big chain with your 9 year old son and look over a fly rod, will the clerk step outside with you and put a rod in your sons hand and talk about 11:00 and 1:00 positioning and how to cast?
The end result of all that work!
The end result of all that work researching and investigating will result in an ability to consistently catch and fill your stringer on that section of XYZ river every time you go. You will also most likely be able to increase your catch everywhere nearby. After a little while, all that time planning and thinking about fishing and what you will be doing on the water becomes as much a part of fishing as standing in the water up to your waist. You have effectively just expanded your enjoyment of fishing into a year-round hobby.
Next comes the responsibility and exciting part of the sport. Catch and release. Not only is catch and release extremely satisfying for the fisherman, but it sets a higher standard for everyone on the bank and on the trip. Seeing the look on your parties face when you fight in a 3 pound trout, take a picture and let him swim free is priceless. Something bigger happens at that point as well. The amount of respect the fisherman gains is immeasurable. The story of the trout you turned away that day on the river will far outlive any that you brought home. Make no mistake, keeping fish, and eating them that night for dinner is terrific. If you don't plan on eating it, why kill it?
What is more priceless is leaving behind fish for your son or daughter to catch and release in the years to come.
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The most common patterns folks look for:
(of course this is a very general broad list of overall best sellers. A good fly box is much more focused)
Hares Ear Nymph
Stonefly NymphFlying Ant
Elk Hair Caddis
Pale Morning Dun
Pheasant tail nymph
Copper John NymphBlue Wing Olive May dry
Lloyd Metcalf is the owner of "The Fishin' hole" Tackle shop and fly-fishing-flies.com. He has been fishing ever since his Dad put a stick and string in his hands. Now enjoying a part time career of wholesale fishing flies imports, fishing gear, and supportimg folks with disabilities.Article Source: The FREE Article Distribution Center
Article Source: http://www.earticlesonline.com/Article/Scouting-to-Fish-Like-a-Pro/100834
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