most fly fishermen consciously or subconsciously categorize still-water trout fishing as at least "different" if not slower and less productive than river fishing. Some avoid it altogether unless the reward in terms of big fish or an unusual concentration of fish makes the blind casting worthwhile.
But in reality, is the difference, cruising fish versus stationary fish, more apparent than real? They are the same fish, at least genetically, with the same instinctive needs for shelter, security in terms of familiar terrain, and food gathering efficiency. That river living trout are territorial is central to the thesis of holding lies and to nearly all moving water strategies. Could still-water trout have the same territorial
instincts and behaviors, expressed somewhat differently, and can it be capitalized upon in terms of fishing strategy?
This concept was hammered home to me one afternoon while fishing a very productive seep lake in eastern Washington. This chain of lakes is famous in the northwest for its concentration of large fish, averaging 18 inches, maintained by catch-and- release regulations. It is heavily fished, almost exclusively by float tubes, such that the fish accept the dangling-legged fisherman as a matter of course and continue their activities, defying the fishermen to catch them. An afternoon wind had driven most of the fishermen off the lake but two other die-hards and I had taken refuge in our float tubes in a shallow, protected cove surrounded and shielded from the wind by tall reeds. In front of us was a slight depression in the otherwise 3 foot deep water, ringed along the backside by cattails, and spotted with three grass covered hummocks. The whole pool was only fifty feet in diameter. The reason we stuck it out was a good number of very large trout gently sipping mayfly duns and emerging midges periodically throughout the pool from a slow but constant hatch through the afternoon. The very fact that we had retreated to this small cove spoke to the territoriality of the fish. There were ALWAYS fish concentrated
and rising there, regardless of the conditions elsewhere on the lake, such that there was competition for and friction about the "rights" to the few casting positions in such a small space. After a day or two, one could easily conclude that the same fish were there, day after day. We nicknamed the place "the old retirement home". From the vantage point of a tube, we could not actually see the cruising fish, but occasionally one of the big fish would fin by visibly in front of our knees.
Having nothing better to do, we alternated between retrieving midge larvae imitations or San Juan Worms slowly through the pool, or chasing rises with #18 Adams drys. Once an hour or so, someone
hooked a fish. At that point, watching the occasional small, brown dun or midge blow past me and downwind to the rising fish, I was kicking myself for not bringing some precise ties, comparaduns or
Iwamasa style. The #18 Adams was clearly not triggering strikes, but it was the closest I had.
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