Thursday, January 18, 2018

Stillwater Angler Fishing Report

Learning to think like fish

What is it about why fly fishing that it can at once be such a frustrating, pleasurable and addictive recreational activity?
Fly fishing has an obvious physical component, as well as a significant mental requirement. However, it’s the interaction with the unpredictable variable of nature that I find most appealing. Each day on the river poses its own unique set of challenges, further seducing the angler into the intricacies of the sport. The past couple of weeks I’ve had the pleasure of spending time on the river with several beginning anglers, both friends and clients. It has been extremely rewarding to share the thrill of fly fishing with them all!
Fundamentally, fly fishing is simply trying to get fish to feed on artificial food. If fish are in an aggressive, feeding mood, merely getting the fly on the water will usually result in an angler catching fish. To the delight of many anglers, using the wrong fly, poor casting, or the wrong presentation are often forgiven or overlooked by these fish.
Any angler can enjoy at least occasional success despite doing everything basically incorrect. After the first experience or two though, most anglers soon move beyond this stage of fly fishing and look to improve their knowledge and skill level in order to catch those more selective and less aggressively feeding fish.
Getting beyond the pure mechanics of the sport and discovering the unique relationship that exists between fish and fisherman takes the angler to a whole new level of enjoyment, and that is what makes me return to the river time and time again. 
Learning to think like a fish is an acquired skill just the same as mastering the technique of casting. Generally, a fish will locate itself in a spot in the water where it can receive food of all types in the current without having to expend an amount of energy that exceeds the value of the food eaten. It’s usually obvious where the food is on the surface, but since fish receive the vast majority of their food sub-surface, looking at the water in its entire dimension is helpful.
For comfort and to conserve energy, the fish will seek a location where it doesn’t have to constantly fight the current; thus a fish will often be located in or near structure that breaks the flow of the current, such as behind rocks and logs on the river’s edge or bottom.
Fish will also hold in different types of water based on temperature, oxygen and protection afforded from predators, including overhead raptors. All of the fancy fly fishing gear in the world won’t make a lick of difference if the flies aren’t presented to where the fish are. The wrong fly properly presented will out fish the right fly poorly presented every time!
The more successful angler has come to think like a fish when approaching the water, and has asked himself where he would be if he were a fish based upon the influence of food, comfort and safety. With this perspective, he is able to determine those sections of the water that are more likely to hold fish and concentrate his efforts accordingly. The key to maximizing one’s chances of catching fish is to observe the water, paying particular attention to the characteristics of the river, and working on presenting the fly in as natural a fashion as possible.
Properly evaluating the water will lead the angler to where the fish are. On the majority of those occasions, when the fish challenge the angler to do things right in order to even have a chance to be caught, thinking like a fish will significantly increase an angler’s chances for success. Hope is never a good course of action for any endeavor and fly fishing is certainly no exception. Tight lines!
Chris Fleck owns and operates Stillwater Anglers Fly Shop and Outfitters in Columbus.