Monday, December 12, 2011

The down stream presentation

The down stream drift is becoming one of my favorite tactics.  Often in slow clear water the slap of the line is enough to spook every fish in the pool.  A long (really long like 16 foot) leader can over come this too but if your line spooks fish closer to you that you are not targeting and then run up to the fish you are targeting its game over anyway.  Plus, who can turn over a 16' leader?  Not me. 

A down stream drift can be made far enough up stream that the fish can't see you AND you don't have to cast at all so more water is opened up that was unfishable due to trees or what not.  It works with dries and nymphs.  All you have to to is strip off enough line at your feet (you should be crouched low so the fish don't see you), not get it tangled in the brush, get some line on the water and flick your wrist up to put more line on the water.  Watch carefully and put out just enough line to maintain a drag free drift so when you get a strike the line it free enough from slack that you can set the hook.  It will be hard, but wait a half second longer than normal if you get a strike on a dry fly with a down stream presentation.  I have pulled enough flies out of trouts mouths to remember this rule and I still do it about half the time.  Also, if you don't supply enough slack with a down stream presentation with a dry fly it will go under immediately.  It can be very frustrating.  It is, however, not the end of the world.  Just give another 3 feet or so of line then pinch it off and swing the fly though the current.  Retrieve slowly but know that you may only get one shot at a drift because dragging your fly and line back though the hole can really put fish down for a bit.  Using a down stream drift at a lake inlet is also a great way not to spook fish in still water.  This technique will also make you fight fish up current which makes them feel a lot bigger than they are.  Great for brooks and small stream Cuts!

"Shouldn't you be crouched down?" He never listens to me.....

The Poudre in my backyard

I'm sitting here in my new office in Fort Collins at Colorado State University looking out the window at a perfectly sunny winter day.   I have been here about a week and after more than a little hassle I am mostly moved in.  I took about 2 hours yesterday to explore the new stream which is nearly in my backyard.  The Cache La Poudre flows right though the city of Fort Collins and about 1000 feet form my from door.  The Pourdre for short (pronounced 'pooder', yeah and they know it rhymes with other funny words and they don't care) runs east down the slopes of the rocky mountains in its headwaters and though the foothills near the Fort.  I drove up the canyon a ways and was stunned a the scenery less than 30 minutes from town.  While out fishing yesterday I ran into a few other people out and I was amazed at how nice everyone was.  It was a beautiful day and sometimes, I guess, that is what really matters.  I bet they were in the same mood I was in.  I wouldn't have mattered if people were shoulder to shoulder or if not a single fish saw my fly.  The warm sun and the sounds of the stream were all I was out looking for. 
The Poudre in the city of Fort Collins

I walked a ways out and saw a number of pools that were decent.  Most would have been better in the summer when the fish are in more energetically taxing stream locations.  I tried a few slower pools, mostly with a down steam presentation and had no bites.  In one deeper section by an old foot bridge I spooked what was at least a 20 inch brown trout.  He turned and headed back to the deeper, slower water that was mostly frozen over.  I walked a little farther but came back with wooly bugger tied on for a run at him.  I fed line down towards where I thought he would be but got no take.  After a few attempts at a down stream drift in a very slow and clear pool I gave up.  One drift would have been enough; I guarantee I spooked him after I retrieved the first drift.   

I headed back to the car and tried one last pool with that big ol' bugger still tied on.  I just wanted to cast a bit to shake the rust off.  Casting a cone head bugger and a strike indicator with an 8' 3 wt can be an adventure but I did okay and got a few good drifts.  I even caught a 6 inch rainbow for the effort.  I think it was Colorado giving me a welcome trout. I appreciated it more than you know.  So there you go, 1000 feet from my door there are trout.  So far, I love this state.