Catching Big Trout Sometimes Takes Multiple Attempts

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This mature male rainbow took the beetle the second time around. Photo Louis Cahill

Several times this past year guiding, my clients would miss a big fish opportunity during our fishing trip.

Sometimes it would be because of a poor hook set, other times, it was completely out of their control by last second refusals or turn offs from the big fish. We’d always make several more casts and try using different flies, but most of the time the big fish would have already caught on and would ignore our offerings despite perfect presentations. Without giving up on the cause I would tell my clients, “no worries, let’s come back later in the day and give that big fish another go”. Not always but quite often, we’d come back and catch that big fish the second time around. When we were fortunate enough for it happened it was the most thrilling guiding for me, and my clients couldn’t have been more pleased and proud of themselves.

If you find yourself wading a river or stream and spot a big fish but don’t catch it, don’t accept defeat, let the fish cool off and come back an hour or two later for a second shot. If you do everything right, most of the time you stand a very good chance at catching the trophy. This simple fly fishing tip, is overlooked by a lot of anglers and it’s paid off for me time and time again throughout my years guiding. Don’t be disappointed if you strike out the second time around, because you’ve got one thing going for you that you didn’t have before, and that’s the fact that you now know where the big fish likes to hang out. Sooner or later, if you keep coming back and trying, you’ll catch that big fish. And when it happens you’ll feel a sense of reward so surreal, that will you’ll remember that fly fishing catch the rest of your life.

Anyone landed a big fish this way? Let me know, I’d like to hear about it.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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14 thoughts on “Catching Big Trout Sometimes Takes Multiple Attempts

  1. Just in the last week I landed a big, gorgeous wild rainbow in a north Ga stream. The fun thing about this fish is that I hooked her twice. She got the best of me the first time, breaking me off underneath an undercut bank. I came back and fished to her again about 30minutes later and she took the same fly. I landed her several minutes later and it felt awesome!

  2. I have also had several experiences like this, but the one I remember most vividly was in rapid city sd. I was fishing along catching a ton of small fish in rapid creek when all of a sudden I spotted the biggest rainbow I have ever landed to date. I cast me nymphs to this fish and sort of spooked her so I let her sit for a little while while I tied a brown wooly bugger then I came back and jogged it past her and she inhaled it. She was 23 in long and 13in around! My biggest bow to date!

  3. Fishing the Black Canyon of the Gunnison this summer, I put down a big rainbow that was tucked in tight between two rocks. Instead of moving on right away, I spent 10 minutes moving around the rocks trying different presentations to figure out the best drift. When I returned to the spot the next day, I knew exactly how to approach and cast for the best presentation, and caught that fish.

    • Kevin,

      That’s what I call smart fishing dude. Props to trying different angler positioning to figure out what would get you the perfect presentation and drift. Thanks for chiming in and congrats on that fish.


  4. I’m hoping I’ll have one of these stories to recount soon enough. All I can think of now is one particular large wily brown that always sits in a particular depression surrounded by a bunch of other browns and rainbows. I can’t get the particular fish to eat for the life of me, though I’ve had my fair share of spooks-and-then-catches with the smaller fish in that same pool. It’s become my nemesis but I think I enjoy returning to that spot more than anywhere else (locally at least).

  5. Great tip! I’ve found this to be one of the most important things to catching big fish no matter where I’m fishing. A week ago Sunday, I was fishing the upper Colorado River in RMNP when I had a nice brown in the 19-20 inch range flash a streamer but wouldn’t commit. Later in the day it wouldn’t even show itself. I went back 4 days later and knew exactly where to cast and sure enough, that big fish came out and slammed the fly. Definitely a great feeling!

    • Congrats David! Glad to hear you came back and landed that fish. There is one giant rainmbow pushing 30″ on a river I guide on that broke different clients off six times last year. Cut 3x like it was 6x. I so hope that fish hasn’t died of old age and I manage to bring it to net this year so I can get a good look at it.


  6. I have a fish, “Walter” (On Golden Pond) that loves a fairly large double pocket somewhere on the Henry’s fork. Weve had it out a couple of times and he’s won 3 rounds so far. Dang fish is smart enough to straighten my hooks twice and break me off once, but I ain’t giving up! I will have my day, eventually, I know his weakness, big stoneflies.

  7. Had an experience like that on the Upper Sacramento. I was just getting out of the water and leaned on a submerged boulder to get out of the river. Looked down and saw about a 22 inch Rainbow in front of the rock. Moved to get a better look and my shadow sent him flying. I looked at my watch and was upstream the next day about the same time. First drift with my dry and his nose came up…second drift nailed him! Did a River Runs Through it scene. Two old guys were running down the bank going crazy, shouting directions. I was just praying my hand tied leader held. Landed him and let him go…they thought i was crazy…good times!

  8. Fishing the Arkansas River, near Leadville, CO, I saw a huge trout at the head of a pool. I tried for 45 minutes to get it to bite. About 6 feet down, it never moved, though my nymph actually hit it twice. Finally, I gave up, crossed the stream, and caught some more “manageable” fish. About an hour later, My wife made 4 casts & drifted right to it. She fought with it about 20 minutes, and landed it. 29 inches!

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