The Fish In-Between 

4 comments / Posted on / by

Photos by Louis Cahill

By Louis Cahill

Are you walking past the fish of the day?

From where I’m standing, in water that barely covers my boots, I can see the next pool. A beautiful bend, dark green and lazy, with a big submerged log on the outside edge. A little riffle at the head, pouring into a deep pool. It’s the perfect picture of the old fishing hole. I know there is a big brown in that dark green water. I literally know. In fact, everyone who fishes here knows. He’s not a secret and yet, to my knowledge, he’s never been caught. Hooked, for sure, but never landed. Still, you have to try with a fish like that.

There’s another beautiful run below with a handful of nice fish in it. I fished it without reward. Those fish, as well as the big brown, see plenty of flies. For all I know I’m the third angler through here today, but where I’m standing, a shallow, straight run with no obvious fish holding features, I’m pretty sure is virgin water. I’ve watched plenty of guys fish through here, and with the exception of the one standing to my left, they all fish the lower hole, then walk straight up the bank to the big bend, ignoring this littler piece of water.

Directly across from me is a clump of stream-side rhododendron, it’s leaves nearly brushing the water. It’s as un assuming a spot as you might find on a trout stream but I know from experience not to disregard stream-side cover, no matter how humble. There’s a spot under those leaves, about the size of a shoe box, you can’t see into. If I were a trot, in such a well trafficked piece of water, I’d like to be where no one could see me. I make a roll cast just upstream and let my fly slide under the branches. The line comes tight and, with a little low side pressure, I slide a sixteen inch rainbow out into the current for a nice fight.

There are hidden pockets like this one in every stream.

Many so subtle that all but the best anglers overlook them. Many of them hold much nicer fish than you’d guess. I remember, a decade ago, I was fishing with a buddy and pointed out a spot that looked like nothing. It was where an old logging road had crossed the stream. You can barely make it out these days. All that’s left is a shallow, straight riffle. The kind of place you see as a good place to cross the stream easily. less than a foot deep and swift enough you can’t clearly see the bottom. Almost to the far side there’s a little bucket. Probably where the trucks used to get a wheel stuck. You’d only know it was there if you’d stepped in it by accident. 

My buddy didn’t think much of it but made a few casts to humor me. After three or four tries, his Wooly Bugger hung up and he started over to get it. I stopped him and asked if I could fish it first. I drifted a fly over the spot and a big head came up for it. It was enough of a fish that it broke me off when it bolted. That’s my buddy’s favorite spot on that creek now.

If you’re one of those anglers who runs from hole to hole, you might should think about slowing down. Take a little more time studying the parts of the creek you don’t usually fish. There are hidden gems on every stream that hold nice fish. You may find only one or two, but they will be rewarding fish to catch because they are the fish everyone else overlooked. Catching the fish in-between adds up to a great day.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!

Follow Gink & Gasoline on Facebook:

4 thoughts on “The Fish In-Between 

  1. So true! It happened to me this weekend: I caught a nice fish who ran out of the hole and into the nondescript riffle below only to spook and stir-up about 10 other fish holding not far from my fishing partner’s feet as he was watching me fish the hole. So humbling… It sure is easy to walk right past fish to hit that tasty, sure-thing hole!

  2. I am one of those guys that usually fishes very slowly. Throwing a fly to anything that looks like it might hold a trout, even if it might be a fish of the year or two. In recent times, I have begun to chastise myself for wasting time with “unproductive” water, while not moving on to find those potentially productive places. And, to some extent, I have been successful in exploring more water by being super critical about the viability of those little nooks and crannies I now pass by. But with reflection, I am reminded that on occasion I have been surprised and rewarded with a nice fish in those very same nooks and crannies and, that, these fish are the ones that remain in my memory for years to come.

  3. Great article. Very elegant and well written as you had me imagining such similar spots on some of the well trafficked streams that I still fish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha loading...