Now that March is over, April brings on fishing season in earnest and this is the time of year we want to be on the lookout for springtime hatches and warming water temperatures, and to dust off the drift boat and tune the trailer. We are a month or so away from the well-known caddis hatches, so think of the next few weeks as “spring training” for your late spring and summer fly-fishing endeavors. Here’s some help to work out the winter cobwebs, and fix those simple mistakes.
Common casting errors.
Regarding the most common casting error – stopping the rod too far back on your back cast – Norman Maclean, in his short story “A River Runs Through It,” said it best:
“Well, until man is redeemed he will always take a fly rod too far back, just as natural man always overswings with an ax or golf club and loses all his power somewhere in the air: only with a rod it’s worse, because the fly often comes so far back it gets caught behind in a bush or rock. When my father said it was an art that ended at two o’clock, he often added, ‘closer to ten than to two,’ meaning that the rod should be taken back only slightly farther than overhead (straight overhead being twelve o’clock).”
For those that need more contemporary terms: #stopatnoon; #donotoverpowertherod #stopitoveryourhead
Pay attention all the time.
Patience pays off and as you approach the take a few minutes for observation. As insect hatches increase in the next few weeks, fish are moving from their deeper winter lies to more shallow and bank-side lies. In most river environments, fish are not at the top of the food chain. Their ability to sense predators – such as birds flying above, muskrats, beavers and otters on the prowl – is how they survive.
You need to think like a predator – be acutely aware of your actions.
Walk quietly into the water. If the sun is shining, observe where your shadow is being cast. This minor adjustment is major when it comes to bringing more fish to hand.
Start shallow, then work deeper.
As you first approach a riffle corner or run, fish the water nearest you first – consider “baby steps.” If you’re the type of angler who walks knee deep into the water before making any casts, reconsider. Perhaps make those first casts with just your ankles in the water and drifting your flies in the deeper water.
Weather in many of the places trout live in April is like a toddler in a candy store – spastic and indecisive. Fishing tends to be good in inclement weather. Don’t be that guy or gal who cuts short your fishing because you were underprepared. And bring both your stocking cap and sunscreen.
Don’t believe the hype.
If you’re new to fly fishing or considering it for the first time, get out there and do it. There are two common misconceptions about fly fishing: it’s too expensive and too hard to learn. Here’s a debunking of both: A rod, reel and fly line can cost under $200. Flies and tackle to fish a day can be had for less than $10. Learning the basics takes very little time, no one keeps score and the fish are always a good scapegoat.