Photo by Courtney Morris | @leaky_waders scouting the water
Left to right, top to bottom.
At a young age we were all taught how to read and write. This is a long, slow process to expand from simple letters and sounds to well thought out sentences bound together to tell beautiful stories utilizing a vast vocabulary. Years of practice and growth enable you to capture the attention of your audience and captivate them with your colorful words. Great storytellers don’t develop overnight.
No different in fishing, this process is long, slow, and very challenging. In many cases there is no instructor standing there with you, telling you what is going on and what to look for. You are on your own, and unlike most languages, sometimes the water seems to have no rules at all.
It is amazing what one can learn by just watching the stream flow down the valley. Having the patience to do this is another story. This is often the most overlooked and skipped step when it comes to fishing. You must crawl before you run, and learn to observe your surroundings. Yes, the thrill of catching a monster can easily consume you and all you will want to do is get your fly in he water as often as possible to cover as much water as possible. In the end, you will most likely spook more fish than you will catch.
The water is telling you a story; you must listen. Seeing what is happening on the surface is only the tip of the iceberg. You must understand what the surface is telling you, and then visualize what is happening beneath. Pick up on where the structure is positioned, key in on where the current seams are, and think of where the food source is coming from, and going.
In the end, you can read all the books and articles you can get your hands on, but there is no substitution for experience. You have to just get out there and learn by doing. Trial and error can be one of the best methods to see what works. Take your time to really watch the flow and map out a plan of attack. After you get down the basics and start catching some fish, take note of what is working and where the fish are holding. As you start to master the art of reading the stream, you should be constantly looking ahead and planning your next two or three
moves. It is more like a game of chess than checkers.