Reading Trout Water

How to Effectively Read a Trout Stream
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Good fish are likely to be found anywhere along the foam line, and along the edge of the quiet water immediately below the falls. The large quiet section is unlikely to hold fish, due to a lack of both cover and food.

Reading Trout Waters 2nd Edition

Another type of sheltering lie can be created by trees that have fallen into a stream. In the picture below, the dark water in the upper third of the picture is deep, and is running left to right. There is a foam line on the deep water, again indicating where food will be delivered. Trees have fallen into the stream from both banks, and extend into the deep run. All elements of a prime lie are again present. The entire foam line should be fished, with special attention given to the water near the tips of the logs, both upstream and downstream of them.

This is especially attractive water for brown trout. The next picture illustrates a group of prime lies in a small spring creek. There are several midstream rocks and a log, which is lodged against the large rock in the middle. These structures provide a break in the water flow, and a rapid which engulfs oxygen.

There is additional cover under the log as it nears the bank. This picture reveals three prime lies to fish. The first is just upstream of the large midstream rock. The second is in the foreground, where the water passes the edge of the large rock, and there is a subsurface rock. The third is on the far side of the stream, immediately downstream of the log, where a small wedge-shaped piece of quiet water extends from the log to a foam line.

Catching Trout on Your Waters: How to Read a Stream - MidWest Outdoors

These are great lies for brown trout. Each area should be carefully fished. Because of the small size of this stream and its clear water, it would best be fished starting downstream and working upstream. Spring creeks and other streams with muddy bottoms offer another type of prime lie which is created by their aquatic vegetation. In the picture below, the stream is flowing right to left. Thick vegetation is present, and leans downstream to the left, due to the current. The vegetation provides an overhead dome for cover, and also slows the water flow.

Trout will typically lie in any break in the vegetation, such as the wedges of clear water seen in the left and center portions of the picture. If startled by predators, they simply glide under the overhanging vegetation. Larger freestone streams will often carve out yet another type of prime lie.

As the picture below illustrates, such undercuts provide shade, overhead cover, and a ready supply of food, as indicated by the foamline along the bank. Whether fishing a dry fly or a wet fly, undercuts are best fished tight to the bank, following the foam lines. In summer, these are good lies to fish terrestrials, as they will often fall out of the overhanging grass and alight upon the water, where they get trapped in the film. Both cutthroat and brown trout love undercuts. Pictured below is a prime lie that anglers often overlook, an edge of rapid transition from shallow to deep water.

This can be identified as a change in water color, from light to dark. Such edges can be found in both stillwaters and in streams.

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In slow water, though, a thirty-foot drift will cover a maximum of fifteen feet, the length of the longest leader most of us can handle, and the trout lying under the fifteen feet of fly line will probably be spooked. A freestone river is at the mercy of mother nature with no dam controlling the flow. Use an aquarium net to take midge samples from just under the surface, and match your imitation to the most prevalent size and color. There was an old dead tree trailing in the riffle, and at the downstream end was a tiny pocket, barely deep enough to cover my ankles. At certain times and locations, most midges are predominantly one color. The very best lies will have all of these characteristics, but more often trout will change lies through the day to meet one or more of these requirements.

Foodstuffs reside in the shallow water, but trout will venture there only in low light conditions. During normal or bright light conditions, they will hang in the deep water at the edge, where they feel safe, waiting for bugs or minnows to wander over the edge. Whether fishing wet or dry flies, these edges are best fished by placing the fly in the shallow water, and letting the current carry it over the edge into the deeper water. But much better fishing can be had if the fly fisher breaks down the water mentally into small sections that resemble what they are used to seeing and fishing in smaller streams. Bonnier websites sometimes may offer contests, sweepstakes, or promotions that are sponsored by or co-sponsored with identified third parties. By virtue of their sponsorship, these third parties may obtain personally-identifying information that visitors voluntarily submit to them in order to participate in the contest, sweepstakes, or promotion.

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Reading The Water - How To

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Most fishermen have pet theories on what catches trout and what does not.

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To protect your privacy and security, we will take reasonable steps to help verify your identity before granting access or making corrections. We will decline to process requests where we cannot verify the identity of the requester. The prime position from which to fish it would be just below the two large rocks at the tail. They will conceal a crouching fly fisher. Below is another picture of a small-stream run providing a prime lie.