Someone in one of the fly fishing forums was looking for
suggestions regarding why they weren’t catching as many fish as they expected.They were fishing a few U.P. Michigan
Ponds/lakes for brook trout.He had put
in long days starting the day at 9:00 or 10:00 a.m., and fishing to 5:00 -5:30.OF course, the days were not a total loss -
beautiful scenery and several loons to keep him company.
My initial response, although I had never fished the ponds/
lakes mentioned, I will say, I've been fishing for a long time, in alot of
different places for alot of different fish. One of the biggest mistakes I
generically see folks make - fishing at the worst time of the day. Most folks
are coming out just as the fishing slows down, and go home just as the fishing
starts to pick up.
I have found you are best off to fish early in the morning, and late in the
evening. Having been doing this for a long time, I can say it is often dramatic
what a difference if makes. The difference is sometimes lessened on a cloudy
day, but on a sunny day, you are much better off taking a mid day nap and
resting up for an evening of fishing. Someone may be able to come up with an
exception, but day in and day out, fishing the low light times of day is the
way to go.
So wrote Rudyard Kipling - “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day
My advice was pretty much solely based on my own personal experience.But as I thought about it, there are a number
of factual reasons to support my claim.
In a given lake or
pond, trout may indeed be at the top of the aquatic food chain.That's probably true as long as they don't
have to worry about what's in the air.In ecosystems where loons, herons, kingfishers, fish eating raptors, etc
are present, fish drop down a notch or two in the predator/prey pyramid.Since the birds are all sight feeders, if
they are present, fish learn to stay scarce when they are highly visible from
I'm not at all familiar with the biology of U.P. lakes and
ponds.Down in my neck of the Michigan
woods, zooplankton forms the basis of the food chain in alot of lakes.Many species of zooplankton exhibit a
behavior known as diurnal vertical migration.
In the evenings, the zooplankton swim toward the surface; at
dawn, they sink back down thru the water column.The stuff that eats the zooplankton tends to
focus their feeding behaviors during these migration periods.Zooplankton is particularly vulnerable during
these migrations. Their swimming motion is often species specific and readily recognizable.That motion may certainly be a feeding
trigger for the species that prey on the zooplankton. That in turn causes the larger fish to become
more active in terms of feeding on the smaller fish.
OF course the same thing applies to the aquatic bugs, fish
tend to become active when the bugs are active.Alot of hatches occur during the early mornings and late evenings.Aquatic insects tend to avoid the bright sun
and mid day heat.Perhaps partially to
avoid detection, as well as avoid dehydration.
During the middle of the day from a prey fish perspective,
there is less activity going on, i.e. less chance of an easy meal, coupled with
the fact they are more likely to get eaten themselves by something in the air,
fish soon learn to retreat to the safety of the depths.Same way I use to tell my kid, not much good
happens after midnight, not much good happens to our fish friends at noon.
It really all comes down to risk vs. reward.Fish that make unwise choices about their
safety tend to get eaten, which in turn removes those behaviors from the gene
Trick Question –What’s the most important fly tying tool ?
Trick Answer -Your
DISCLAIMER -It takes
a man who is comfortable in his own skin to talk about hand care
One thing I’ve found, it really pays to keep your
fingers/nailsin good shape when it
comes to tying flies.Nothing gets in
the way more than ragged finger nails and patches of rough skin.For a long time, I just put up with it.
It wasn’t until I started hanging around with my guitar
playing buddies that I learned how to take care of my finger tips and
nails.Guitar players are meticulous in
the way they take care of their finger tips and nails.The need them smooth and well kept in order
to make sure they don’t get in the way of fretting and plucking strings.
I found out what they use to smooth things out – glass nail
files.A good glass nail file is worth
its weight in gold when it comes to maintaining health smooth nail and removing
rough patches of dead skin and such from finger tips.
It makes tying go so much smoother, wish I would have
figured this out about 40 years ago.If
you are tired of snagging materials and such, give one a try.(as with most things, don’t buy a cheap one,
it pays to get a good quality file, they are guaranteed to last a life time,
unless you drop and break it.)They work
so much better than nail clippers, sandpaper, emery boards, ...
I ordered a batch directly from the Czech Republic (for some
reason, they make the best files) for the folks in my fly fishing club.The guys and gals just love the way they
smooth out the rough spots on their nails and finger tips.I actually have a few left, if you’d be interested
in one, drop me a PM.
There, somehow I strangely feel better having come out of
the closet and having talked about hand care.
I recently read a short article about the use of a fixed length line system as a fly fishing teaching tool. I agree with much of what the author said about how it simplifies things for the beginner. The article stressed that it eliminated the need to shoot line and mend line.
I don't agree that it eliminates the need to mend/manage line on the water. I will say that having a long rod and very light line makes it alot easier. This allows the student to learn to recognize what happens when line meets water, to see the effect, and to be able to figure out what needs to be done in order to make the fly behave as the angler intends.
A fixed lenght line system certainly eliminates shooting line, but it does even more in terms of simplify the process. What
I've found really helps a beginner is eliminating the need to
coordinate two hands in order to successfully cast (even when you aren't
shooting line). When folks are first getting started, it is indeed a pat
head/rub stomach type of exercise trying to coordinate the movement of both hands. Eliminating the line hand allows a person to
focus on using just the rod hand to make a cast.
I've lost count of how many times
I've watched a newbie fly fisher spend an evening trying to flail away with a
reeled rod. After a while it’s hard to
miss the level of frustration that overcomes even the most determined new
My approach is typically to wade
over and ask him/her if they'd like to give my rod a try.I don’t typically provide any other
instruction or suggestion.
So far I've yet to see a person within no more
than a cast attempt or two, be able to deliver the fly and start fishing. More
often than not, the fishing gods seem to be smiling because it seems like
beginners luck kicks in.The person
soon catches their first fish.It's very
rewarding experience to both the student and myself, everyone goes home happy.