Fishing the fly in
A seminar just when our licenses are due -- a brilliant idea.
Saturday April 5, 2003 was just the right day for me to get away from it
all and lose myself in a great day of learning. Learning, that is, about that
favorite activity among many of us – fly-fishing. Hub sports put on a most
enjoyable day of events for inquiring minds.
Is there a better pursuit than fly fishing encompassing so much in one
sport? Exercise, outdoors, wildlife, entomology, fly tying, fine art,
deception of quarry and more. That Saturday for me was a welcome change and an
inspiration. Notable among key speakers were Phil Rowley and Kevin Longard.
First off was Phil Rowley’s seminar on the basics of lake fishing. He
preambled his lecture by explaining to us that a lot of the skills we use in
river fishing are transferable to lake fishing. But as it turned out a lot of
us nurtured our skills on BC lakes.
Phil Rowley was a well organized and informative speaker and every point
he made was immensely practical and helpful. Phil, I hope you don’t mind if I
jot down a few of your points; I’m sure that most readers will find the
information as precious as I did. Following are many of the points that Phil
shared with us at his seminar sponsored by Hub sports.
By nature the rainbow trout’s prime haunts can be typified in three ways:
Comfort(current), protection, and search for food.
Contrary to the idea of sunny clear blue skies and a lake surface as
smooth as glass the trout finds security under a windy rippled surface and
most often resides in water less than twenty feet deep. The quarry also often
finds refuge in algae patches and more than not prefers low diffuse light as
opposed to strong brilliant light.
Areas in lakes resting on drop offs are favorites as well. Trout can flee
to the safety of greater depths if startled in shoals and tend to run in and
out of shoal areas. Phil said that he personally casts parallel to the drop
off often counting numbers out loud to check the level that the fly sinks. He
noted that during his adventures he has seen trout travel paths similar to
game paths that big game travel but of course in terms of swim paths amidst
the shoals. When fishing shoals he also notes that anglers should approach
them from the deep water side rowing or with an electric motor.
Another helpful hint is the use of Bathymetric Maps – Bcadventure.com is
a good source for these. These maps outline the lakes subsurface structure and
provide the angler with good clues for finding trout. Rowley stressed that
trout like structure which can provide them with sources of protection.
Temperature is an incredibly important factor in not only the trouts case
but in the entire cycle of insect hatches and photosynthesis. It’s recommended
that you carry a thermometer with you to test the lake when looking for that
ideal 55 - 65 degree (Fahrenheit) trout getaway. As well, the ideal ph. factor
is 7. Rowley says, "10% of the lake holds 90% of the fish."
In addition he points out it’s important to understand the seasons of the
lake and to eliminate areas and clues that don’t fit the picture with respect
to ideal trout habitat. One area that I hadn’t really thought about was a
spring. The spring can provide an even temperature all year ‘round thus being
ideal for trout and hatches.
Another handy tool is the barometer. Barometric pressure affects the fish
through its swim bladder and as with temperature in springs fish prefer steady
pressure. Often a lowering trend in barometric pressure indicates that a storm
is approaching which can be less productive with hook and hackle.
Rowley went on to explain that trout find food in shoals where there is
good sunlight penetration thus fostering photosynthesis and insect hatches.
Weed beds are good places to find trout looking for food.
The most important clue that Phil provided however was simply to observe.
Look at the hatches or shucks in the water, search the shorelines for insect
hatches and clues, learn to listen to mother nature and observe – she provides
all the clues you need. For instance look for fish rolling on the surface or
swallows swooping down on hatches.
To find exactly what trout are eating use a throat pump. Finding live
chironomids in a trout for instance means the fish is actively feeding whereas
dead contents can mean the trout has not been activelyfeeding. Again observe
the clues. According to Rowley a lot of the fish that he has studied in the
Kamloops region had ingested large numbers of chironomids and to a lesser
extent scuds. And as a matter of anecdotal reference Rowley says that trout
are predominantly in the upper column or the bottom column of water or
somewhere near the top or bottom similar to rivers.
The last gadget that Rowley recommends are binoculars.
In concluding his seminar on basic trout lake angling Phil reiterated two
points: 1) Comfort (zone) - proper temperature, oxygen and barometric pressure
and 2) Protection - water surface, light, structure/vegetation and water
depth. Phil recommended focusing on weed beds, shoal areas, insect life
cycles, food sources and behaviors.
After the seminar came the tour of the hot items for sale at unbelievable
prices that Roger Dornan, owner of Hub Sports in Abbotsford, is known for – ie.
, float tubes for $59.95 . . . unbelievable.
To round off the day Kevin Longard taught all of us a refresher on fly
casting in his comedic and entertaining manner.
The loop was the most important part of casting and we payed particular
attention to it ie. , if you move your wrist back and forth while casting your
loop formation goes all to pot – so to speak. During casting it’s important to
keep your arm at your side and to use a rigid wrist.
Two casts reviewed as well, which incidentally are extremely important in
river fishing, are the roll cast where you lift the rod in front of you and
flip the loop out and the steeple cast where the cast is sent up high in the
air at about a one o’clock angle almost straight up from the back of your
head. Both casts are used in restricted back cast scenarios.
During normal casting circumstances, looking at the caster from the side,
the actual casting angles are between about 11am and 1pm on the clock – with a
drop in the rod tip after the forward cast.
When casting into the wind Longard crouched down and casted horizontal to
the surface and from the side. As well, while casting into the wind Longard
attempted a tighter loop.
Longard also reviewed the double haul – the cast I still have problems
with - the line hand makes a jerky down and up motion while lifting the line
off the water and again when propelling the loop from the back cast. Kevin
made the double haul look so easy and rhythmic in contrast to my attempts
which looked like a drunken boxing match.
With what appears to be the certain demise of pacific salmon on the west
coast of BC it’s comforting to know that there will almost always be trout to
fish in the lakes of this great province. You can’t go too far wrong with the