Friday, January 19, 2018

Stillwater Angler Fishing Report

Know where you are, be prepared

Every year by about this time, I’ve seen a few questionable incidents and practices on the river that are cause for concern. So, I thought it might be worthwhile to devote a few words to the subject.
It always amazes me when someone comes floating past and asks, “where’s the take out?” Now, there’s always the first time down a given stretch of river for all of us, but even so, it’s always a good idea to go with someone experienced, or at least identify a prominent feature or easily identifiable landmark in the vicinity of the planned take out to go by. An accidentally extended float can turn into more than just an embarrassment.
Something that’s easy to do and many who float overlook is getting their anchor stuck on the river bottom and have to cut the anchor rope. I always make it a habit to anchor up only where I can see the bottom and in not too swift of current.
Dropping the anchor in fast, heavy water can result in the anchor getting wedged down between some rocks, particularly along the rip rap banks, and it isn’t going to be pulled back up.
Worse yet, the boat can start taking on water in the stern and requiring the rope to be quickly cut to avoid swamping the boat. So, exercise some care when deciding where to drop anchor.
A couple of quick words on river etiquette are in order too. The boat ramp, either putting in or taking out, shouldn’t be used for anything other than just that; launching or landing the boat. Tying up the ramp to inflate or deflate a raft, load or unload gear, string up or tear down rods, etc., is discourteous to fellow floaters and anglers.
I suggest getting completely ready somewhere else in the parking area before launching, and when landing, get the boat pulled up on the trailer and again, move elsewhere at the access area to tear down.
The other point concerns proper etiquette for boats and float anglers versus wade fishing anglers. The fundamental rule is that the wade fisherman has the right of way.
Now there are those occasions where a floater encounters an angler wading in some constraining water and there’s simply nowhere else to safely pass except directly through where he’s fishing. If this is the case, the guy on the oars should at least acknowledge the fact and make an apologetic comment to the wade fisherman.
Something that pertains to all floaters, not just fishermen, regards passing another boat on the river. On the Stillwater about two weeks ago, my client in the back of the boat literally had his flies run over by a rafter who, get this, was trying to pass us between our boat and the shore.
Despite having an easy and safe alternative path to the outside, this guy comes screaming through literally in the water we were fishing without so much as saying boo, just a smile on his face. The proper thing to do when coming up on another boat is to announce oneself, such as, “coming behind you on the left,” then give as wide a berth as possible.
Also, if both boats are fishing, don’t immediately cut back in front once past the boat. Go a ways down river, or if possible, even move over to the other side to resume fishing.
Water temperatures on both the Stillwater and Yellowstone continue to climb. Anglers should play and land fish as promptly as possible and minimize their handling. Too much stress on the fish can be fatal at these temperatures.
Also consider starting and ending the fishing day earlier than normal when the water temperature will at least be a bit cooler. Keep ‘em wet and tight lines!
Chris Fleck owns and operates Stillwater Anglers Fly Shop and Outfitters in Columbus. He can be contacted at 322-4977 or via www.stillwateranglers.com