Big Fish Require Slow Hook Sets On Top

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If any of you have fished for cutthroat trout with dry flies you know most of the time you need to wait a good while on the hook set.

The first time I fished for cutthroats I missed many more takes than I care to share. Cutthroat trout are known for their slow motion rises, and if you set the hook too quick, you’ll end up just pulling the fly out of the trout’s mouth.

Just like cutthroat’s, big rainbow and brown trout also require you to count, 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississip…in your head before you set the hook to ensure consistent hook ups. If you can still see the fish eating your fly you need to wait longer. A big trout comes up, opens it bucket mouth, and usually doesn’t close it fully until it’s submerged completely below the surface. And if a fish is chasing after and eating your dry fly moving downstream, you have to wait even longer.

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How To Hold Fish For A Photo: Video

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Here’s a few simple tips on how to best hold a fish and get a great photograph, without harming the fish.

There’s a lot of debate right now about photographing fish. Like most topics that get blown out of proportion on the internet, this debate is riddled with sensationalized accusations and disinformation. I’ve written about holding fish for photographs but I thought a short video showing how simple and noninvasive it can be would be a big help.

First, I’d like to clarify my stance on the subject. When done properly, I do not see any harm in photographing a fish. Fish are injured by poor handling, not cameras. I have two serious problems with the ‘no photo’ argument. First, it simply doesn’t address the problem. If anglers are mishandling fish, they are doing so while landing them and unhooking them with or without a photo. Demonizing the camera does nothing to stop this and doesn’t save fish. What we should be doing is educating anglers on ethical fish handling. Secondly, the photograph is the bargain that makes catch-and-release fishing work. Whether you like it or not there are simply a lot of anglers who require proof of their catch. It’s much better to give them a photo than a corpse. Like any right minded over reaction the ‘no photo’ movement will generate (and is generating) push back. People will kill fish because of it. If you don’t believe me, see the 2016 U.S. Presidential contest.

We are much better off teaching anglers to pinch barbs, wet hands, revive fish and limit their exposure to air than we are demonizing photography. In my experience the greatest danger in fish handling is panic. The average angler just needs to learn to calm down. When faced with a stubborn hook or an unruly fish, most anglers try to subdue the fish with force. This is the exact wrong reaction. It only panics the fish, making them struggle more. If you relax and keep the fish in the water, the fish will relax. Just watch how relaxed the fish in this video is. It works.

Lastly, all fish are not created equal. Some are more delicate than others and some species are more at risk. While I think it’s OK to lift a trout from the water briefly, the same thing doesn’t go for steelhead. The stakes are simply too high. What works for a trout in 50 degree water doesn’t work when the water temp is 70. A tarpon might seem tough but they are actually very fragile while a redfish or permit are surprisingly strong. Take time to know the fish you’re after and always ere on the side of caution.

Watch this video and see how simple it is to get a great photo of a fish and do no harm.

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Labrador Bound

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By Jason Tucker

It’s no secret that I love brook trout, and thus the name of my blog, Fontinalis Rising.

Size doesn’t matter. From 4-inch little gems to behemoth monsters the size of respectable brown trout, I find them all fascinating and exciting. When I was a boy, my grandfather took me down to the river and showed me two fish in the 24-inch range that had staked out the area as home.

Most of our fish were in the 6- to 8-inch range, and 12 inches was considered a good fish. To see two fish that had doubled that mark was incredible. Ever since then, I’ve wondered what made those two fish get so big.

I spent as much time as possible fishing for brook trout in Northern Michigan and its Upper Peninsula, and after many years I finally caught a 16-inch fish, which was my personal best for some time.

Since then I’ve gone to Nipigon, where a 12-inch fish is considered small. I caught one fish that was 22 inches, and lost several fish that were much bigger. (Brook trout tend to pack on the pounds once they reach about 22 inches. A 20-inch fish may weigh 3 pounds while a 23-incher may weigh 7 pounds.)

A few years later I was invited to go fish with the Sault Gang. We caught 38 fish that averaged 18-20 inches and 1.5 to 3 pounds, and got one big male that was over 4 pounds. I also took a trip to Isle Royale with a distinguished group of gentlemen. The fish there average 3-5 pounds. With research I’ve discovered that

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Don’t Ride the Brakes During Your Fly Casting

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Are you finding that you’re lacking distance and falling short of your target with your fly casting?

Is your power and line speed insufficient? If the answer is yes, I bet you’re also getting a fair amount of tailing loops or dreaded wind knots aren’t you? Come on, be honest. There’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of if you’re periodically falling into this category with your fly casting. Believe me when I say, you’re not at all alone. I see it regularly on the water guiding, and most of the time anglers struggling with these problems usually are only doing one thing wrong with their fly casting. Nine times out of ten, in this scenario, anglers are decelerating their fly rod during their forward cast, back cast, or even both, in some cases. What you need to be doing to fix this problem is smoothly accelerating your fly rod during your casting stroke, making sure you’re stopping the rod at it’s fastest point. This will allow your fly rod to distribute the energy loaded during your cast efficiently, and you’ll have plenty of power (line speed) to reach your targets.


This past fall I was fishing big attractor dry flies with a client of mine. There were plenty of big fish willing to rise to our offerings, but to get them to eat, we had to stay far back and make long casts to them. Otherwise they’d spot us and spook. My client, a capable fly fisherman with strengths in short presentations and roll casts, developed a weakness for distance, when a head wind picked up. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get the distance needed to present his dry fly ahead of the fish. Several minutes we worked a prime piece of water that I knew had some eager fish looking up, but we got no takes. My client turned to me and said, “They must not like this fly pattern”. I replied, “You may be right man”, and I handed him the nymph rig and pointed upstream to our next fishing spot. But what I really wanting to say is, “No, the fly pattern is good, you’re just not getting the fly anywhere close to your target”.

There are times when the best thing you can do

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Georgia Man Catches Trout On Car Key, But Why?

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By Louis Cahill


For some reason this year I have run into more anglers with attitude than usual. Ranging from the dry fly purest who think they walk on the water rather than fish it, to the Bonos of fly fishing who keep a sharpie handy for a quick autograph. Here’s an example.

I was on a photo shoot a while back on the Henry’s Fork. I had a few minutes to fish and frankly, I needed a fish to photograph, so I asked the guide for a rod. He gave me a set up with a Chernobyl Ant, the fly everyone else was using to NOT catch fish. I didn’t have my gear so I ask if he had any streamers. The reply I got brought steam out of my ears. “This is the Henry’s Fork and we don’t do that here”. Rather than launch into a diatribe on what horse shit that is, I explained that this was my job and I needed a fish and may I please have a streamer. Within a few casts I had my fish. The guide was clearly irritated and insisted that it meant nothing.

I was talking, ok bitching, about this narrow view of fishing to Kent, over a few beers, when he challenged me to come up with the most f¥€ked up thing I could catch a fish on. After a few ideas we decided on a car key. I liked this because I cary a key chain with way too many keys. So I picked out a key and tied on a hook with a marabou tail. To further infuriate the purest I chose

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Tom Keck Is My Role Model

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In September of 2009 I was fishing the South Platte below Spinney Reservoir, the stretch they call the Dream Stream.

When I noticed this gentleman casting trico patterns to the far bank…from a wheelchair. I watched for a bit as he worked a pod of rising fish with a long reach cast, occasionally fooling one and bringing it to the net that he had fashioned with an extra long handle. He would wheel himself down stream to the next rising fish, careful to travel far enough from the bank that he didn’t spook fish. It was an impressive display. I would find out just how impressive when I walked over and introduced myself.

Tom Keck, of Denver CO, is a likable fellow and a great fisherman. Generous with his knowledge of the S. Platte as well as with his beautifully tied flies. The flies he gave me turned out to be day makers. But don’t let his gentle demeanor fool you. This fellow is carved of wood. I asked him how he wound up in the wheel chair and this is the story I got. Ten or so years earlier, fishing the Platte at Deckers he had taken a bad fall. Alone, his back broken and paralyzed, he struggled in the fast water nearly drowning. Eventually he pulled himself to the shore and then to the road with his hands. There he found help but he never walked again. He also never stopped fishing the river he called his home water.

I’ve taken a few bad falls. Not like Tom’s but bad enough to make me wonder what I’d do if I were really hurt out there on my own. I hope I never have to answer that question but if I do I hope I’m half the man Tom is and can face it with the courage and

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4 Tips For High Water Trout Fishing

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These tips will help you catch fish when the river is up.

Anglers in parts of the west are looking at high water for the foreseeable future. High water can be a fly anglers friend. A swollen river might spoil your dreams of big trout sipping mayflies in the film but if you adapt to the conditions you can still enjoy good fishing and the chance at a real trophy. Here are 4 tips to help you be successful during this season’s high water.

Head upstream

While the lower sections of larger rivers may be pretty stained, you can almost always find fishable conditions further upstream. If visibility is too poor on your larger rivers, it might be time do do some blue lining and check out those headwater streams where conditions are better.

Look for points of refuge

High water forces fish to stack up in places where the current is not so strong. Eddies and inside bends where the water is slower can be very productive. You can sometimes catch a handful of fish out of small pockets you’d walk past at normal flows. Structure becomes even more important in heavy water. Pay extra attention to blowdowns and submerged boulders.

Match the hatch that isn’t

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Lionfish – Tasty on Pizza, Hell on the Ecosystem

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Lionfish may be the mother of all invasive species.

Take a moment to think about this: a lionfish (native to the Indo-Pacific) has no natural predators in the Atlantic ocean. It can live up to fifteen years, reaching sexual maturity in less than a year. Once mature, a pair can spawn as often as every four days. A single mature female can produce up to two million eggs per year and they will tolerate a population density of two hundred adults per acre. Just the math involved scares me, but you don’t even have to get out the calculator to see where this is going.

Introduced in several locations in Florida as a result of aquarium damage during hurricane Andrew, lionfish have been making their way around the Caribbean and east coast of the US for the past twelve years, but in the last three years the population has exploded. They are now found as far north as North Carolina and south into South America. They are rampant in the Bahamas as well as the Florida Keys and are now common in the Florida panhandle.

Why am I so worried about this beautiful tropical fish? Here are a few more fun lionfish facts.Lionfish prey on almost every other species of fish. They also eat their spawn. They decimate populations of juvenile tropical fish including sport fish. They exhibit site fidelity and once established, reduce populations of other fish by as much as ninety-five percent. They grow to twenty inches and will eat fish over half their size. What they don’t eat, they out compete. Oh yeah, and they’re poisonous! Nice neighbors, huh?

So what do we do about all this?

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Use Side Pressure To Avoid Breaking Off On Snags

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You’ve got a big fish on and it’s making a screaming run straight for a big snag on the far bank. What should you do to decrease your chances of breaking off?

Your best bet is to apply low side pressure with your rod while keeping a perpendicular position between you and the fish at all times. Doing so you can put twice as much pressure on the fish than you normally can when your fly rod is in the overhead fighting position. Secondly, it’s much easier for you to steer the fish’s head and turn its direction using low side pressure. Always follow the fish up and down the river during the fight. The closer you stay to the fish the more leverage and power you can apply to steer and control the fish. Lastly, don’t tighten down on the fish trying to stop its run towards a snag, because nine times out of ten you’ll end up breaking the fish off. The harder you pull on a big fish the harder it generally going to pull back. If you find playing the fish aggressively makes the fish fight harder

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Kiss the Bank with Your Terrestrials

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One of the best times of the year to catch big brown trout is during the summer months.  

When the terrestrial bite is in full swing, brown trout will often tuck up under overhanging foliage super tight to the banks. Often they’ll be in less than a foot of water waiting patiently for the land born insects to fall to the water for an easy meal. Targeting this habitat on the water will increase your brown trout catch ratio over rainbow trout. Although rainbow trout will utilize overhanging foliage, they still prefer foam lines with current and deeper water for the most part.

Target Overhanging Foliage
This beast above devoured a beetle pattern that was placed perfectly in the strike zone. Kiss the banks with your terrestrials targeting undercut banks and overhanging foliage, and you could land a trophy like this. Just because they’re isn’t current doesn’t mean it won’t hold a good trout. The main factor is

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