As Hamish mentioned in the post ‘A few days trout fishing around Khancoban‘, I had a pretty tough time as far as the fishing was concerned. Don’t get me wrong – it was an amazing weekend spent camping with great mates in beautiful country, but I was confronted with the question: is it wrong to feel disappointed when your fishing mojo has gone awol? How could you possibly feel dejected and downtrodden when wading up a spectacular stream, the warm glow of the autumn sun shining through the golden poplars, beer in hand, insects hatching, trout sipping?
It’s really tough. You can definitely feel that way, and it becomes as much a battle to catch fish as it does a personal battle not to lose your shit. It’s particularly hard when your fishing companions are catching fish consistently. You’re doing everything right, and you’re even doing what your mates are telling you. Advice is forthcoming, even relentless, with remarks to ‘tie this on’, ‘cast there’, ‘work on a more delicate presentation’, ‘pepper that run’ and so on, but no matter what you do, you can’t hook one, let alone see one.
In these situations, it pays to sit down for a while and have a good long think about what is happening. I can think of numerous excuses why I had lost my fishing mojo: I have rarely fished for small trout in fast, clear streams. I rarely have to worry about line management. I don’t usually have to consider overhanging vegetation, trees getting in the way of my backcast, whether to sidecast or roll cast. Most of my flies were too big. I didn’t have a great selection. I needed a red tag or a Geehi beetle. All good excuses…
But the observant angler will think hard about what his companions are doing, take on board at least some of their advice, and persist. Eventually, you will crack the code that they have already cracked and things will start to fall into place.
Lesson 1: Watch what your mates are doing. Tie on a similar fly. Manage your line like they are. Move slowly.
Lesson 2: Think like a trout. If you think there has to be a fish there, keep trying, even if you don’t see him on the 5th cast. Try 10 casts.
Lesson 3: Once you’ve figured out what your mates are doing, get away from them. Fish some unfished water. Don’t rush. Pick a run or a pool and demand that no one distracts you or spooks your fish.
Lesson 4: Don’t panic. It’s easy to get excited when you finally spot a good fish. For me this past weekend, this ended up in a huge barry, with the first cast getting tangled around the rod and the second getting tangled around my leg. A nice brown followed but I was too busy untangling to have a chance.
Lesson 5: Don’t complain too much. Take it as a valuable lesson and resolve to think more next time.
Lesson 6: Be happy for your mates, not resentful! Catching trout requires trout zen. They will sense your resentment and smell it on your fly 🙂
Lesson 7: Demand a stomach report. Figuring out what the fish are feeding on could give you the edge.
Lesson 8: Turn over rocks and look at bugs. Ask questions about what they are and what stage of their life cycle they are in. If your mate has a fly that looks like that bug, ask to tie it on! Once again, this could be the difference between a fish and no fish.
Lesson 9. Try something different. On the last day this weekend, Brett and Hamish were convinced there were no fish active in the shadows. Admittedly, most of the fish were active in the sun, where the insects were hatching. But at the same time, this gave me hundreds of metres of unfished water. I had a few great strikes in the shadows when the others had walked past.
Lesson 10. Always enjoy it. Frustration, resentment, self-doubt and negativity won’t get you anywhere with fishing…as hard as it can be, regard it as ‘character building’.
Ok, so that’s pretty much what I learnt from this weekend. In the end I managed to land three fish. Two bonsai rainbows and a little brown. These fish were immensely satisfying and despite being small, I felt like I finally started to crack the code. Next time, I’ll have so much more knowledge to employ, and the knowledge that I learnt so much this time makes me a happy angler. I’ve always maintained that you learn the most when the fishing is tough, and this weekend was no exception! Add that to the great company, food, camping and environment, and you’ll come away from it thinking ‘what an amazing weekend!’
For more about fishing attitude, check out Hamish’s last post.
Thanks for reading 🙂