Oftentimes when I am guiding beginners, they will marvel at some of the odd spots where we pick up fish. We all get so focused on the pretty spots that we ignore great water, but better anglers will work to break the rut. Not all fish are tucked in overhanging banks waiting for that perfect cast- in fact, there are a great many trout holding spots that get overlooked by beginners (and guides alike) as our tendency to focus on the shoreline fish takes over. To paraphrase the great Yogi Berra, sometimes you’ve got to cast where they ain’t. You’ll be surprised to find some large trout holding in water that you might otherwise ignore for the prettier spot. Here are a few spots that we all tend to miss, that hold great trout in pressured water.
|Long time guide and outfitter Doug Jones knows that fish in pressured water often move out of the popular feeding lanes and into skinny water. This brown moved on a streamer in water less than a foot deep.
Fish love to sit in water that sometimes barely covers their backs. In these skinny spots, they don’t have to work hard for food since it is all compressed into a smaller space. These trout are wary of shadows and bad casts, but if you can give yourself good distance and keep the presentation as drag-free as possible, you might be rewarded with the largest fish of the day.
Big eddies are a beginning caster’s worst nightmare – swirling currents, vortexes that suck your line to the bottom and competing flows make for ugly drifts, and oftentimes beginners give up on them far too quickly. The fact is, eddies hold fish, and lots of them. Any visitor to the Missouri in the height of boat season has surely seen the lines of boats waiting for their turn to swirl around a popular eddy, but oftentimes that pressure can move fish to the opposite side of the eddy to the outside of the big mid-river foam lines that eddies create. These foam lines can allow for better casts and drifts, and feisty fish.
Upstream of Obstacles
When confronted with a mid-river obstacle such as a rock, downed tree or island, our first instinct is often to wind up our cast and work like hell to drop a fly right behind the obstacle in the calm pool that it creates. We’ve all seen the results when this works out, but we tend to forget just how often it doesn’t. Sure, every so often the well placed fly is eaten by a big hog trout. But more often than not, the faster current that the obstacle creates pulls the line and the slow moving fly is quickly given an ugly ride out of the strike zone. Better fishing is often right ahead of the obstacle, where big trout take advantage of the pillow of calm water that the hydraulics of the obstacle create. Putting a fly upstream of islands, rocks and downed trees will surprise you with better fish more often.