Eye of the Guide



Tom Travis - Apr 29, 2019

A day on your favorite Trout Stream

I guess that in some respects I am a fairly laid-back fly angler; once I arrive on the chosen water of the day and I leisurely gear up, by then I have already had a good day. To make it a perfect day all that is needed is for me to hook a single trout.

Now, I can see the shaking of the heads and hear the comments of; “Hook one fish, well for me it would take a lot more than one trout to make it a prefect day.”

However, in my opinion, many anglers, by setting high expectations, are simply setting themselves up for frustration and failure before they ever wet a line. Furthermore, their expectations are often based on past experiences and not on present conditions.

I often hear comments like; “Well last year when I was here at this same time the hatch was going on and the trout were rising everywhere.” Yes, but that was last year, and each day and each year is different; weather cycles, weed growth and many other factors may change or effect the feeding activity of the trout on any given body of water. The hatches can be early or late and the hatch itself may not be as heavy as remembered from previous outings, and the weather of the day may affect the hatch. All these factors and many more can affect when and how the trout will feed on any given day, remember, their reactions are instinctual and not base on conscious thought.

Often, I have witnessed many anglers who show up on the water and gear up in preparation to fish using a particular method, most often this is surface imitations of adults or emergers. They do this without looking around to see what is happening, then I hear the complaints of; “About the lack of surface activity”. If your desire is to fish with only a dry fly or surface emerger and you are happy with that choice, then great, that is a personal choice and I respect your decision. However, if you would prefer to actually hook trout then I offer the following advice. Once you arrive on the stream and gear up, refrain from selecting an imitation until you have had a chance to observe the water and gauge the activity of the trout.

Please remember that the trout will feed on their schedule and not on ours, also be aware just because the trout are not feeding on the surface doesn’t mean that they have went on a diet and also that doesn’t indicate that they can’t be enticed to take an imitation presented beneath the surface of the water.

Careful observation coupled with a little bit of investigation will allow the angler to make informed decisions and select methods and imitations which may lead to a successful conclusion with the trout, furthermore it will help you to avoid frustration and possibly fulfill your expectations.

I have offered this advice to frustrated anglers and have been told that they are here to catch trout, not walk around and look! Yet they are ones who are frustrated, and I am the one enjoying myself. Taking time to observe the conditions and the trout will pay real dividends and allow time for seeing the Eagle soar or the White-tail Deer cross the stream, or the Great Blue Heron stalk a minnow, all of which adds to the enjoyment of the day.

The more time you take to learn about the stream and the trout will make you a better angler and will allow to find much more enjoyment in your visits to the water. When the fishing is slow practice your casting skills, your approach methods and your understanding of presentation angles, if you do this you find that you are able hook a few trout even when the fishing is slow. By keeping your expectations to reasonable levels, you can avoid frustration and enjoy your day on the water.

Brown Trout waiting for a meal.

Enjoy & Good Fishin’

Tom Travis, Livingston Montana

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