New water, old tricks.   Leave a comment


  During the winter, I’m not on the water as much as when the season is ripping.  That being said, when I do have gaps between trips, it sometimes feels as if I am guiding on “new” water. 

About a month ago I guided on a stretch of water that I hadn’t laid eyes on in two years.  To say I was a bit aprehensive would be more than accurate.  But, over the years I’ve learned a few tricks that ease the pain and usually gets us into fish in a reasonable time frame.

First off, no matter the size of the river, learn to break it down into “runs” in longitudinal sections.  River left, river middle, and river right.  I learned that reading Bill Edringtons’ book about the Arkansas River.  This will help you manage the river and your emotions.  Just pick it apart from down-to-up and in-to-out.  By this, I mean to pick one run in one section, and fish it up river from near to far. 

Fish to your strengths.  I’m fairly adequate at nymph fishing, so I am absolutely going to dial in depth and speed.  You can catch fish with the wrong bugs at perfect depth and speed.  Once I do a bit of reverse-engineering, or recognizing adult bugs and working back to the nymph stage, I should be picking up increasing numbers of fish because of the right fly choices.  If you’re good and confident at throwing streamers, dry-drops, or whatever, use it to your advantage  to pick up fish while you learn more about the river. 

Apply what you know.  For example, if you know how, where, and why fish set-up around an obstruction or in a bend, then concentrate on that water.  If you’re proficient in riffles, then find and fish them.  What you know breeds confidence and allows you to systematically attack the river.  No guesses, only the next option. Enjoy the experience.

Make sure you can identify caddis, mayflies, midges, and stone flies.  Learn their stages, and simple flies that mimic them.

Last and certainly not least,  employ fish spotting skills.  I am a much better guide and fly fisher when I can see fish.  No big mystery there, but good polarized optics and the accompanying skills are paramount.

Just a few thoughts on using old tricks on a new river.  Try it sometime and Fear No Water!


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