Rules of Fishing

by James Brauch, April 28, 2000
Trout fishing in our local lakes can be a satisfying and rewarding experience if you understand the nature of the creature you are fishing for. Most of these fish were raised in concrete tanks at a fish hatchery since they emerged from the egg. These tanks are about four feet deep and very crowded. The food comes from above and is often delivered either by human hand or by machine. Obviously, they have no survival instincts since they have been protected all of their lives and only the occasional bird which makes it through the protective nets has presented any danger. These fish compete aggressively for any available feed and expect most anything which enters the environment to be eatable, which is why you will find filters from cigarettes in their stomach as well as twigs and other debris. As they acclimate to their world, they will seek out proper food and habitat but for the first couple of weeks, they are easy to catch. Follow these five rules for fishing trout:

Fish where they is, not where they ain’t. Hatchery trout will be found in the top four feet of water or in the shallows initially. Later, as they get used to their space, they will seek out that ideal temperature of about 55 degrees to live and feed in. Generally, if you see fish on the surface, fish there. If you don’t see them on the surface, they are feeding on the bottom or somewhere in between-find them. Ten percent of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish because 90% of the water holds few or no fish.

Match the hatch. Find out what the fish are feeding on and try to give it to them. Early in the season, they will feed on nearly anything but as the season progresses, you will have to search for the proper item. I like to troll a streamer fly on the surface or a small, thin bladed spoon early in the season. You don’t need fancy gear to do this and you may be amazed at the results-I was when I first did it. As the season goes on, the fish will look for that ideal water where most of the good feed is and I will fish either a sinking line with a nymph or will fish powerbait or eggs on, or close to, the bottom. Remember, the way a fishes head is shaped, they look up, not down, so present the bait or lure in their field of vision.

If what you are doing isn’t working, change what you are doing. This is a simple rule often broken. We get used to one or two methods which have worked in the past and won’t change when they do not work. The opposite of this rule is if someone else is catching fish, find out what they are doing. I never hesitate to ask when someone else is catching fish. They will usually tell me and if not, I will watch them until I figure it out.

Use persistence, not patience. This is similar to number 3 but a little different. Patience is fishing the same unproductive method or the same unproductive spot. I seldom fish a spot on a lake for more than ½ hour if I am not catching fish. I have found (and shown other people) that a move of as little at 20-30 feet can make the difference of catching or not catching fish. Change locations and gear aggressively if you are not catching fish!

Keep it all in perspective. Remember, you are out to have a good day and catching fish is just the frosting on the cake. If, for some reason, fish are not biting, enjoy the day, the company and the snacks. There is always another day to fish.

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