Saturday, January 20, 2018

Stillwater Angler Fishing Report

Being a so called ‘successful” angler has, in my opinion, a variety of definitions.
Defining it can vary widely from angler to angler. For some it’s about how many fish are caught, for others, it’s how big, and still others rate their success in terms of a particular angling skill; was my cast accurate? did I get the right presentation? etc.
Then for the remainder of anglers, it can be defined as simply enjoying a day out on the river matching wits with wily trout and taking in what Mother Nature has to offer for the day. Thus, there is no single definition of what successful fly fishing is and therefore no single set of conditions that makes for success. There will be as many definitions as to what constitutes success as there are anglers!
I think too often we lose sight of the fact that each individual has a different perspective and set of expectations, and like a lot of things in life, one person tries to impose their ideas on another. Our media and peer pressure certainly have a big influence. In the case of fly fishing, while we each have our own definition of success, I think though that there is a lot of common ground from one angler to another.
Much has been written about the different stages an angler goes through as they progress in their pursuit of the sport. At some point, most of us have gotten hung up with how many fish we caught, or how big they were. Eventually however, there comes a point where it becomes more about the experience of fly fishing and enjoying it, and less about the tangible results. Sure everyone likes to catch fish, and a big fish is even better! However, aside from just focusing on the quantity and size of fish caught, what about the experience that goes with the catching? For example, a wise old angler friend of mine told me once that, “trout don’t live in ugly places.” And boy isn’t that the truth!
So, enjoying the scenery is one aspect that can make for a successful fly fishing experience.
For many anglers, sharing the experience also ranks high up on the list of determining success. Merely getting out with a spouse, child or friend can make the day a success without having even tied on a single fly! Fly fishing is also about as an active of a form of fishing as there is. Most, if not all of an angler’s senses are necessary and engaged when fly fishing. Sure sight can be vital, but I fished with a severely wounded veteran, who though blind, was able to learn to fly fish and catch fish using his sense of feel that was no doubt made more sensitive to compensate for his lack of sight.
There are both physical and mental components to fly fishing that for most of us, play a key role in defining the success of the experience. Developing the rhythm and mechanics of the casting motion are physical, but without the mental element of learning to read the water and proper fly selection, becomes pretty much an exercise in futility.
One constant for me is to make sure I learn something every day that I’m on the river. Another thing fly fishing helps me to do is to enjoy the moment. As with everything else in life, there is only one of each particular experience, and it is fleeting. It’s easier said than done for most of us and a work in progress for me.
So what works or is right for one, may not be what another is seeking from the sport. There is no one size fits all; this is the way you have to do it. Figure out what is “successful” by your own standards and work to achieve that. You be the judge.
The past week, the Stillwater has come up pretty significantly as well as adding some color. It’s still fishable, and as I look at the weather forecast, may continue that way for a few more days or week or so. We’re at that point though when it can go any time. There are still March Browns and Caddis, but dry fly action can be hit or miss. An emerger nymph of some sort fished along the edges may be a good tactic. The Yellowstone has been running off color for a while now, and doesn’t look like it will recover before runoff hits for good. There may be some spots where an angler can fish the edges with big, ugly rubber leg nymphs or dark streamer patterns, or look for some calmer, clearer side channel water to fish. Other than that, it’s probably pretty tough sledding. Soon it will be time to hit the tail waters!
Tight lines!
Chris Fleck owns and operates Stillwater Anglers Fly Shop and Outfitters in Columbus.