Friday, April 26, 2013

A Few Tips to Increase Your Stillwater Success Rate

Pete with an Isaak's Ranch tanker.

Interested in bringing more fish to the net while lake fishing this season?  We've put together a short list of tips that are sure to help keep a bend in your rod. 

Do your homework - don't rely on fishing reports.

If doing your homework before a fishing trip consists of checking the latest fishing report, then you are behind the curve already. While up to date, honest and accurate reports are certainly valuable ways to glean information, most successful anglers know that paying attention to conditions relevant to the body of water they plan to fish is the most consistent way to experience good fishing.

Simple details like water temperature and weather patterns play a huge role in fish feeding activity.  Keep a thermometer with you while you are fishing and record water temperatures, remembering that an ideal temperature for fish feeding activity is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.  Temperature changes in the lake can dictate where fish hold in the water column and also influence insect/feeding activity.  These changes can be seasonal, or they can be driven by changes in the local weather.  Keeping a log of these details will allow you to better predict where fish will be holding, when they will be actively feeding and what they will be feeding on during your next outing.

Keep an open mind - flexibility is key to consistent success.

While knowing that your buddy whacked 'em yesterday on size 14 black Sno Cone chironomids fished under an indicator in 12 feet of water is a good starting point, keep in mind that conditions, insect and fish activity can change at the drop of a hat.  It is always easy to start your day with a technique you are confident in.  The interesting thing is that many anglers will continue to fish in their "comfort zone" regardless of their success rate.  Doing what worked before is sound enough logic to begin with, but continuing to do something that isn't working just because it worked yesterday, last week or last year is crazy. 

Think from the bottom up.  If there are no signs of surface activity on the lake, consider fishing a hi density line and a chironomid pattern with a traditional slow hand twist retrieve.  While it has fallen out of style in favor of the more popular "chironomid suspended below indicator" technique, fishing your fly  from the bottom up allows you to play a more active role by searching out the fish in the water column.  When you hook a fish, pay attention to how much line is left out the tip of your rod. This will give you a general idea of the depth where fish are holding and feeding.

When all else fails, remember the t-bone.

This tip comes from our Northwest Sage sales rep and resident stillwater expert George Cook.  Trout can be finicky and stubborn at times, and sometimes giving them a morsel they just can't resist is the only way to get them to strike.  During tough situations George likes to break out what he refers to as the "t-bone steak of aquatic critters," adding that "even inactive fish will rarely turn down a well presented dragonfly nymph."  As is the case with all fly fishing techniques, presentation is the key here.  Dragonfly nymphs move in short bursts by ejecting a jet of water from the gill cavity in their abdomen.  To imitate this movement, George likes to use a series of short 6-8 inch strips followed by a pause.  Try it on your next outing and you may be surprised with the results!

Jay Robeson doing what he does best!

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