Top 5 questions that I hear every guiding season on the rivers here in Ontario.
5. Is the the fishing better when it’s sunny or when it’s cloudy?
4. When streamer fishing should the fly be stripped fast or slow?
3. Is the fishing better earlier in the morning or later on towards dusk?
2. Which is the best Fly to use?
1. How do I read the water? Where do the fish spend most of their time? Slow pools, faster current, pocket water, the end of a run?
These first 4 questions can all be debated with many different conclusions. But the last question is more scientific. This is the main reason why most Fly Fisherman fail in their search for our swimming trophies. Most anglers are fishing in the wrong spots.
We have 5 basic sections of a river.
A Riffle which is the shallow turbulent beginning of a stretch. I see many people wading in this water. This usually has some good hiding areas even though it is quite shallow. Trout will definitely feed in this section. Plus they don’t have as much time to think about your fly. I like to work these Riffles hard.
The Main Run. This is deeper then the Riffle but has a smooth, constant flow. Trout will definitely be feeding in this column of water. Streamers are very effective here as well as midges, nymphs and dries. Look for the foam line here. The food channel.
There are the swirling backwards, reverse flow sections called Eddys. Insects usually get trapped in this flow. Get your Fly down in this section to keep it in the hitting zone as long as possible. Most angler’s do not get, and keep the fly in front of the fish long enough in this section.
The main Pool. Most anglers only attack this section. Of course it will hold many fish but do not always concentrate here. This is a good resting area for fish. This may not be the most active of spots throughout the day. This is good cover plus this is usually where most spooked fish will hide.
The Tailout. Shallow back end of the pool. Usually quite a few larger rocks and gravel have been pushed here along with other debris. To me this section is the most overlooked portion of the river. Many of our Steelhead and Trophy Smallmouth Bass have been found at these Tailouts. Fish these sections hard. The fish WILL be here and many of them are there to feed.
Concentrate on all sections of our rivers but don’t forget about the Riffles and the Tailouts. Top and bottom sections. They do produce. There are many other locations of our rivers that provide cover. Pocket water, deep cuts along the banks of the river and woody areas for ambushing. All great holding areas.
Many of our larger rivers can be very intimidating. These larger rivers all can be dissected into smaller sections. Fish need to eat but they also need to rest. Pick apart the river before you walk in and have a game plan.