Angler Attitude Can Increase Success During Tough Fishing Conditions

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

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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15 thoughts on “Angler Attitude Can Increase Success During Tough Fishing Conditions

  1. 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.

    Absolutely. The wrong fly fished right beats the right fly fished wrong every time.

  2. I learned that just plugging in the i-Pod and listening to some favorite music can make any frustrations go away and help me refocus on the fundamentals.

  3. Well put. You touch on two things I always struggle with on ‘tough’ days; the self-doubt thing and the afraid to try something out-of-the-box thing. Your words will help me to stay better focused the next time. Thanks.

  4. U want to put your fishing partner or partners to the dedication test? Go musky fishing. If they can stick to it from beginning to end with little to no complaints and stay focused then it will be a good river marriage. Maybe I should have put my wife through this rigorous test??

    • Charlie,

      You are so right on this one man. Its not for the weak of heart and he spoiled numbers dude is it. I really want to hit the water with you soon for some musky.


  5. Very true that the worst day fishing makes for a good fisherman. One needs to try and switch up leader, fly, weight, depth of fishing, where your fishing and at the same time notice your environment, temperature, shade location, depth of water and clarity, where is the structure? All of these make for a better fisherman. I fish the narrows section of Fishing creek in central Pennsylvania and you best know what your doing to hook up.

  6. Regarding “JGR’s” suggestion about music on the stream…I found just the opposite. I like only the sound of the water and the sounds that go along with being there. Anything else distracts from my experience. But that’s just me.
    Cap’n Bob

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