Angler Attitude Can Increase Success During Tough Fishing Conditions

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Louis put the proof in the pudding with this nice rainbow he landed during a slow afternoon float. Photo By: Louis Cahill

Editors Note: It is with great humility that I share this article. I do so because I think the message is sound. I’d like to say thanks to Kent for the kind words. – Louis

By Kent Klewein

I’m grateful to have a full-time fishing partner that isn’t afraid to step it up when the going gets tough.

Louis Cahill is the epitome of this, he’s an angler that’s willing to do whatever’s necessary to put fish in the net, even when catching fish seems completely hopeless. In fact, he seems to shine when fishing conditions are really tough, and oddly as it may sound, sometimes I think he actually prefers bleak fishing conditions for the challenge and reward. It doesn’t matter if everyone on the river is getting their butts handed to them, Louis won’t except defeat until he’s given it everything he’s got. And here’s the real kicker, unlike many of us, I rarely have to pump Louis up for him to give me his absolute best on the water. All I have to do is get a serious look on my face, start cranking on the oars, and mention the words, “Let’s do this”. Nine times out of ten, he charges out the gates, like a horse at the Kentucky Derby, and ends up getting the job done by landing multiple big fish.

I think Louis has figured out how important angler attitude (staying positive, confident, grounded) is for catching fish, and many of us, including myself, need to take note. Louis openly acknowledges trout can be super technical and extremely difficult to catch at times, but he maintains a firm stance that trout don’t have a higher intelligence than us, and they can’t consciously pick and choose who they outsmart. This fishing attitude is why Louis can travel all over the world fly fishing uncharted waters and find success, and that’s why I eagerly follow his lead where ever he goes. The man always has a plan b, c, and d, if plan a fails to produce.

When fishing conditions are grim and we, as anglers, begin doubting our ability to catch fish, we often begin fishing below our skill level. Unaware, we begin straying away from our angler reasoning and fishng instincts, and in turn, we make bad fishing decisions on the water. We’ll find ourselves sticking with a dry dropper rig, because we’re seeing an occasional riser along the bank even though we’re getting no takes. We’ll continue fishing a specific fly pattern because it produced for us earlier in the day even though its been hours since we caught our last fish. Plain and simple, we stop thinking outside the box as anglers, and we find ourselves making up excuses for not changing our fishing tactics.

If you’ve been pounding the banks with no success on the river, why not try fishing the channel out in the middle of the river for a while. Try changing the depth or water column your presenting your flies in. Forget about the fly pattern the guy behind the counter at the fly shop recommended. Tie on your go-to pattern, the one you always seem to catch fish with on your home waters, you know, the one you have absolute confidence in. The key in tough fishing conditions is to keep a good attitude and continue changing it up (your fishing tactics) as many times as it takes until you find success. Next time you’re on the water and fishing seems hopeless, dig deep inside you like Louis does, and commit yourself to giving it your best. Think outside the box and most importantly, keep an attitude on the water that will bring you positive results. I think you’ll find your fly fishing experience more enjoyable and successful.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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2 thoughts on “Angler Attitude Can Increase Success During Tough Fishing Conditions

  1. Reminds me of an Outdoor Life (Field and Stream?) article I read (and still remember) circa 1974:

    “PFA: Positive Fishing Attitude”

    The philosophy has served me well over the years. Thanks for the flash back!

  2. Just two weeks ago a friend and I had finished fishing a run that we knew held steelhead, but we couldn’t get one to take. We were headed to our rafts, heads down, when two float fishermen drifted through. We asked how the fishing was and they said, “Terrible! We’re headed to the takeout. The only thing we’re interested in now is a drink.”

    I turned to Brian and said, “Henry Ford once said, ‘Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re probably right.’ ”

    Pumped up, we went back and re-fished what’s now known as ‘Henry’s Hole’. About the second cast, Brian set the hook so hard his hat flew off (I made a goalkeeper’s save downstream). It was only a bull trout, but we were stoked. Ten minutes later, I’d missed a strike and my buddy had scored a beautiful chrome hen of about 11-12lbs.

    A positive attitude helps. So does fishing hard all the time.

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