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How to belly flop, bounce back and catch your fish

DamselFly Fisher

Recently I went fishing at one of my favorite winter fly-fishing spots, a great public tailwater fishery on the Taylor River called the Catch-and-Release Area right below the Taylor Dam. It is a great place to catch large trout year round because it never freezes. I wrote an article last year about my talent for falling while fishing, but only while other people are there to witness my feats of incredible clumsiness. Yesterday I was true to form and had my most impressive winter fall.

I had hooked and lost two upper 20-inch trout that day and was determined to land the third nice trout I had hooked. I scrambled to catch up as the fish rushed downstream. As I have mentioned in my Big Trout Tips in the past it is very important to stay parallel to a large trout when attempting to land it on light tippet and small flies. I had this trout hooked on a size 20 fly and 5X tippet. As I scrambled to rush downstream to land the trout, I slipped on a shifty mossy rock and went down in epic form. I belly flopped in the river and indescribably cold water drenched my whole upper body. It was a warm day for midwinter at the Catch-and-Release Area, but warm for there was about 25 degrees Fahrenheit. I kept my rod up, floundered to right myself as quickly as possible and managed to land the trout, a nice 22-inch brown.

Though he was smaller than I had originally hoped, and smaller than the other large trout I had hooked that day, the story alone was worth a picture.  I turned away from Eric – who was holding the trout in the net underwater – to take off my gloves and grab my camera, which is most appropriately waterproof.

I turned around to an empty net. My husband had released the fish, thinking my turning away was a sign that I didn’t want a picture. Oh well. The image is indelibly burned in the minds of my husband and the only two other guys who were fishing there that day and happened to be only about 30 yards away as I swan dove into the river. We ran into them as I headed to the truck to change out of my soaking wet jacket and shirt and they asked if I was all right. I joked that I was fine, I was used to falling while fishing – though I generally avoided belly flopping in the river in the middle of winter. I could tell they were highly amused and very pleased that they were able to witness my spectacular display once they found out I wasn’t hurt. I have come to the conclusion that I am willing to risk body and limb in the name of landing a nice trout. They were also impressed that I was willing to keep fishing for the remainder of the day and that I landed the fish.

Luckily, I always pack extra layers for winter fishing.  My Prois gear is great, but unfortunately it is not made for diving. Perhaps I should invest in a dry suit for winter fishing. Fortunately, Eric had a big bag of giveaway clothing – that had not yet been donated – for me to use in his truck. Eric also had an extra pair of gloves after I had soaked through my second pair of the day.

Unfortunately, the author has no photos of herself after the flop. She does, though, offer this one of another successful catch! Photo by Eric Grand

My other great winter fishing talent is dropping gloves in the river.  Eric and I had both dropped my gloves in the river that day. I think I am going to outfit my favorite winter fishing and hunting jackets with mitten string – like little children have. I never did land my monster trout that day, but I am headed back out this weekend.  I did manage to land and get a picture of a cuttbow that I landed directly before my aerial display. I find that it is important to be able to find the humor in our embarrassing situations, and I have had lots of practice at laughing at myself. Tight lines and thanks for reading!

  • About Katherine Grand

    Katherine Grand pens "DamselFly Fisher" and works as Pro-Staff and Dealer Relations Coordinator at Prois Hunting and Field Apparel in Gunnison, Colo. She also guides in fly-fishing waters near Gunnison.


The Conversation

  • Cliff says: February 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I’ve done the summer falls & they are cold. That’s true dedication.

  • Gretchen Steele says: February 4, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Katherine – we are falling, flopping, sisters – in arms ..er water.. er.. mud…Falling into wet. messy, smelly thing is one of special skills.. hence the three changes of clothes in my car. I agree my Prois is wonderful ..but not quite submersible;)

  • Bill Bowers says: February 3, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Great story, Katherine, and a great reminder of the advisability of carrying spare dry clothes!

  • Gary says: February 3, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Yikes! That’s a dangerous place to find yourself wetted down. Good thing you hit it on a banana belt day. I’ve been in there on some ruthlessly cold days. Got my slab and am never going back, at least in winter. I love floating down from Almont. Love that river!

  • Stacey Huston says: February 3, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Thank God Prois dries out fast :p Great story Katherine.. and now I know what to get you for your birthday.. a snorkel 🙂