Stillwater Angler Fishing Report
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 thrill of matching wits with a wily trout never gets old.
I rate presentation and reading water as the most valuable skills for an angler to possess. First and foremost, an angler has to know where to place the cast and drift the fly. That means recognizing what type of water is likely to hold fish.
If the fly isn’t delivered to the right spot on the water and presented in a fashion that looks somewhat realistic to the fish, all else is moot.
Casting is only the means. While it’s certainly important, it is accuracy that counts more so than distance. It’s basically irrelevant how far an angler can cast if it isn’t accurate. A cast with perfect technique, but to the wrong piece of water (or that misses the intended location) will most often go unrewarded.
Reading the water is a learned skill that means exactly that. Anglers are able to avoid fishing unproductive water by learning to focus their efforts on the water that is most likely to hold fish.
This is an acquired skill, but is really not that difficult to understand after only a few days on the water. Having figured out where to put the fly on the water, the remaining skill to learn is how to present the fly in a fashion that closely approximates natural food sources. The right fly in the wrong location, drifting either too fast or too slow, will appear unnatural and won’t produce fish.
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.
For comfort, 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 edge or bottom, or on the edge of the current.
Also, as water temperatures start to warm, fish will begin to seek out cooler, and more oxygenated water. Merely pounding the banks alone may not get it done.
Finally, hopper fishing on our area rivers and streams is starting to get going. Almost any type of hopper or big stimulator pattern is taking fish fairly consistently. The foam patterns seem to be particularly successful and their durability and visibility are hard to beat. If you’re getting on the Stone early, the streamer bite is pretty fair. On the Stillwater, try fishing small dries like the Purple Haze and Royal Wulff in the morning.
During the mid-day lull when the sun is bright and overhead, try lengthening up the dropper nymph a bit. Another tip for the Stone, is don’t forget terrestrials like beetles and ants; they make good droppers on a short leash off of a hopper this time of year.
As water temperatures rise with the hot weather, play fish promptly and minimize their handling. Also consider getting on early and off early. It will be more comfortable for the angler as well as healthier for the fish. 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