Finding Fish

The essence of fishing is finding fish. Fly fishing is no different in this respect. If you can’t find fish you won’t be able to catch them. One of the most crucial and overlooked aspects to finding fish is a stealthy approach to the stream. Most fisherman scare far more fish than they catch.

When approaching a good piece of water here are a few rules to follow:

  • Approach any good lies from down stream.
  • Be aware of your shadow. If you cast your shadow across a fish, it will flee to the nearest hiding place.
  • Keep a low profile and stay away from the water’s edge when surveying perspective water.
  • Don’t wade unless it is necessary.
  • If you do wade, fish the water closest to you first, even if the far bank looks the best.
  • Wade slowly!

Where to Find Fish

Runs:
When fishing a run, look for features like boulders, logs, holes …etc. Any large submerged object that creates a break in the current is considered a feature. Fish will hold in the slack current that is created by such features so that they can ambush prey as it drifts by.

Bends:
Where a bend forms in a stream, usually the outside corner will form an undercut bank. An undercut bank is sure to be a lie for a big fish. Bends also cause the water to change velocity. Look for the changes in water speed between the inside and outside of a bend, where calm water meets fast water is where you’ll find the fish.

Pools, Riffles, and Eddies:
Riffles are created by under water obstructions, or changes in the stream bottom. These structures form good holding lies for trout while they are feeding. Riffles are also easier to fish because the broken water hides you from the trout.

Pools are deep large areas that hold many fish. While not feeding, the trout will move to the deeper hiding spots and rest. While actively feeding, the trout will move to the head and tail of the pools and feed in a single lane, sometimes called a feeding station. It is not unusual to see the same trout at the same place at the same time day after day.

Eddies form where obstructions break the water. The eddy in the illustration looks like a whirlpool that has cut the bank away over time. The fast current from the river pushes a lot of food into this type of eddy and trout know it. Look for trout facing downstream in eddies where the current is going in the opposite direction.