Friday, April 8, 2011

A different kind of Dry Fly Fishing

Maybe I'm the only one that thinks this, but waders can be such a hassle. You kick them on like a kid getting into their footy PJ's, then your pants are up past your knees so you shove your hands down try to work your pants leg down while keeping some semblance of dignity.  All to go into water that barely reaches your shins.

I wet wade as much as possible, but in the Spring the water is still a little chilly for all that. It these time that I become a bank fisherman.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes the fiasco is worth it. If I'm going to spend multiple hours on the water, I'll flounder in the parking lot knowing that it will be worth it. Casting is easier while in the water, it's easier to get where the fish are, and it is easier to blend in with the surroundings since your profile is low compared to the banks edge.

But waders can also be hot. And cumbersome. There's days I just don't feel like dealing with them.

So I'll wander the bank and look for my prey. Here's how I do it:

1. Be a Ninja. 
You must be sneaky sneaky. Fish generally look straight ahead, or up, trying to get a glimps of their latest meal. You, stomping to the bank, and staring around.... well, he's going to see you long before you see him. Use any brush to break up your profile and creep up to the edge.

Also step lightly. Fish can feel the vibration of people stepping heavily on the bank, as vibrations transfer easily from ground to water. I tell people to walk on gravel, if you hear it crunching you walking too heavily

And if you see a fish, stop where your at. If you can see him he can see you, but if he's still there he might not have seen you yet. Don't do anything to change that.

2. Get a Game Plan.
So you have your fish in sights. Most will say, "Don't take your eyes off of him." That works great if your playing on the same field, but today your still in the stands. Try to remember where the fish is in relation to something, a log, a rock, whatever, then take a look around.

See all those trees, bushes, etc? You have to figure out how to cast around it. I can be done.  This is where small rods are a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that they are more maneuverable than a 9 footer. The curse...... well an average person hold the rod at noon about shoulder height, or say 5'. Add 7' for the rod and you get 12'..... or about 3 feet up on the beginning branches.

You may need to hold the rod waste high and improvise a cast, or even get down on you knees to get a cast off that won't end up in the branches.

One of my favorite techniques that doesn't require sitting in the mud is to cast parallel to the bank. Then, on your presentation cast, you do a slight roll of your wrist to get the line to shoot out perpendicular to the bank and out into the middle of the water. The hardest part about this is judging the distance. People get used to judging the distance to an object by using false casts; can't do it here.

You need to be able to say "That fish is 24' away" pull out the right amount of line and cast. In this, practice makes perfect.

3. Fish Out
If you see a fish, by all means cast to her. But sometimes, no matter how good the conditions, you see a spt that just screams fish even though you don't see them. A deep pool,  some rocks breaching the surface, etc. A good lie is a good lie, and odds are there are fish in there that you can't see.

But don't cast to them just yet. Work the banks first.

Odds are that there is some form or undercut to the bank, and fish love it. But if you start your casts 20' out, you could very well spook a fish that is literally at your feet. Spooked fish do nothing if not dart away and spook other fish. So much for that great lie......

Fish the banks for those fish that are hiding there. Then, on each subsequent cast, add about a foot out. That way you can thoroughly work the water and still be least likely to spook a fish by lining it.

4. Fishing so Bright you Gotta Wear Shades
Is the Sun still in the Sky? Then you should have polarized glasses strapped to your face. It amazes me how many guys I see on the water without these. Buy a pair; a cheap pair if you must(I have $15 clip ons for my prescription glasses.) You will see more fish. And seeing more fish means catching more fish.

While bank fly fishing can be far from easy; it's not impossible. It just requires a bit of skill, a bit of inventiveness, and a lot of being able to roll with the punches. But you can get fish, and lots of them, without ever getting your feet wet.

Tight lines!