WON Landing Page March 2022

DamselFly Fisher: BIG Trout Tips — Tip #2 Spotting Trout in Moving Water

Hooking big trout can be an art in itself.  They tend to be very selective and easily spooked.  Being able to spot and target big trout will really increase your success rate.  I love spot-and-stalk style fishing.  Oftentimes I am fishing deep runs where I can’t see the fish, but I love stalking big trout whenever conditions allow.

First of all …

A good pair of polarized glasses is paramount to seeing fish.  Polarized glasses perform best when worn with a cap or brimmed hat which really helps cut down on glare.  Polarized glasses also really help you see underwater topography and obstacles.  You will lose far fewer flies while nymphing if you can read what’s underwater.  This is also important when landing big trout (see Tip #1).   It takes a while to become proficient at seeing fish in moving water but you will be well rewarded for your practice.

Katherine Browne shows off her successful tactic of spotting and stalking. Photo by Eric Grand.

How to spot …

To practice spotting fish, pick a high vantage point on a clear sunny day. The higher you are above the water, the easier it is to see fish.  Focus one spot at a time and watch it carefully for at least a minute.  Focusing on one spot at a time really helped me when I was having trouble seeing fish.  The faster and deeper the hole, the harder it will be to see fish – so start practicing in shallower, slower moving water.  Often when I see big trout, I just see a hint of movement, a shadow, a pink side (rainbows), or a bronze flash (brown trout and cutthroats) as a fish moves and feeds.  Even if you don’t get a clear view of the fish, knowing there is a big fish moving and feeding in that area is a great place to start.  Fish that aren’t moving back and forth feeding in their “feeding lane” may be much harder to catch because they are not actively eating.

When you have located a large trout remember where you saw him.  Big trout are territorial and will often stay in the same area for days and sometimes weeks at a time.  Part of being a good fishing guide is remembering where big fish are in the river for clients.

Cupping your hands on either side of your face and your cap to cut out any glare also helps to spot fish.  Windy and overcast days make it harder to spot trout but not impossible.  Cold winter mornings – when steam is rising off the water – can also be very challenging and spotting fish can be next to impossible if water clarity is poor.  When I first started fly fishing, it was so frustrating to go out with my more experienced friends and have them point out fish after fish that I wasn’t able to see.  The more time you spend watching the water, the better you’ll get.  I have sat for hours just watching fish without even fishing and this is a great way to spot fish and learn about fish behavior.

Katherine Browne. Photo by Eric Grand.

Keep practicing …

Keep honing your skills because there is nothing more satisfying than catching a fish that you are targeting – whether it is by floating your dry flies to a rising fish or drifting your nymph right into the mouth of a big trout.

  • About The WON

    The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women.


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