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Same creek + different stretch of water = completely different fish behavior

Joined:
2013/7/30 17:16
From Fairborn, OH
Posts: 312
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I wanted to share an interesting observation I made with my fellow newbies. We had some very nice discussion about the difference in aggressiveness of fish that haunt fast moving freestone creeks versus slower spring creeks revolving around a thread I started.

Last week, I made a fishing report in the General Forum about a trip I made to Panguitch Creek in southwestern Utah:

http://www.paflyfish.com/modules/xfor ... id=467979#forumpost467979

Panguitch is a spring creek that is partially fed by overflow from the adjoining lake at certain times of year. The section I fished that day is a low gradient, slow-moving portion that is very fertile, mostly clear and fairly warm. There were boatloads of small baitfish and bugs here. It is a gorgeous stretch of water, but also tough to work for the wild browns in there. I only caught two 10+ inch fish and a few fingerlings that day. I believed that the slow, mostly clear water, was a big factor in why it’s a tough area to fish. However, some of the regulars on here pointed out that the fertility of the water was likely a bigger cause for the tough fishing than the water flow.

So, yesterday I decided to test the theory. A buddy and I worked a very different area of the same creek. This section is a higher gradient, faster flowing portion that looks more like a freestone run than a spring creek. The water sits in a tight valley that sees much less sunlight and is notably less fertile: fewer plants, insects, sculpin and minnows. To say it fished differently than the slower section I hit last week would be an understatement. The fish in this entire section were drastically more aggressive. The water was significantly stained (about 30% clarity) from a flurry of recent thunderstorms and I still saw about 5x the catch in last week’s section. Using a mix of dry flies early in the shallow water and a black wooley bugger in the deeper areas later in the day, the voracity of these browns, in the very same body of water, was noticeably more pronounced.

It seems that there is definitely something to the notion that fertile water results in more challenging fishing while less fertile water results in the inverse.

Here are some pics of the fish I caught in this faster section. Another conversation of note in last week’s fishing reports was the more drab, steely color of the fish I caught in the slow section. Notice the variety of color combinations these fish had:

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Posted on: 2013/9/16 0:19


Re: Same creek + different stretch of water = completely different fish behavior

Joined:
2009/10/15 13:45
From Eastern PA
Posts: 10290
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Glad you are following up on the differences in the sections of this stream.

Fishing in faster water will always be easier.

Fishing in broken water simply means fish get less time to examine your offering. It's easier for beginners because of this.

Having said that, I believe you accomplishments on the first trip is greater than this recent trip. As these trips will be greater than your Potter County trips.

Posted on: 2013/9/16 0:35


Re: Same creek + different stretch of water = completely different fish behavior

Joined:
2013/7/30 17:16
From Fairborn, OH
Posts: 312
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There definitely is some pride in the fact that I caught ANYTHING on the first trip. It looks like someone stocks baitfish in the run it's so full of minnows and the water is just painfully slow. Funny sidenote: I actually caught one of those two larger fish on that first trip by doing nothing more than stripping line way, way out. The fly actually got around a bend and I thought to myself, "how am I going to know if I get a strike on a dry fly with the fly now out of sight?" Sure enough, a half second later I heard a loud *SPLUNK* - the unmistakable sound of a fish blasting through the water surface. Yeah, sound works as a strike indicator, too.

Posted on: 2013/9/16 0:52


Re: Same creek + different stretch of water = completely different fish behavior

Joined:
2011/9/27 20:41
From Central PA
Posts: 220
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nice read six gun.

is that like having a bobber that talks to you when you get a bite? although the electronics and battery necessary for something like this would probably be pretty big in size. I am sure they would sell like hotcakes at wallmart and you could also find them in the power lines near bridges....might need to replace the batteries on those though.

Posted on: 2013/10/14 23:02


Re: Same creek + different stretch of water = completely different fish behavior

Joined:
2009/6/17 21:49
From United States
Posts: 259
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I like what you are doing and how you think. Fishing with a purpose. Man keep doing that and you will break new ground. Thanks for the pix. Keep exploring the world of trout.

Posted on: 2013/10/15 12:15
_________________
I am of the opinion that there is NOT one single population of wild trout that exists in our great state worth intentionally degrading for the benefit of any fisherman or any amount of money no matter how small the population.


Re: Same creek + different stretch of water = completely different fish behavior

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 13424
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Yeah, you think a lot like a scientist. I do the same.

I'd disagree with jdaddy that your first trip was more of an accomplishment. Well, not disagree, but not agree either. I have no way of knowing, and you probably don't either. Personal success or failure is measured against the typical or expected result. We do have different expectations for each respective water, but I have no idea what those expecations should be for this particular stream.

So if the fertile environment was expected to turn up 5 fish while the less fertile one was expected to turn up 20, and you got 3 and 25, then the less fertile one was the greater accomplishment.

I have streams where I'm disappointed if I only catch 30 and others where I'm thrilled if I catch 5. But merely meeting my "expectation" ranks the same to me on the personal achievement scale.

The real achievement in all of this wasn't what you caught. It was realizing the difference, and beginning to think about WHY.

Some guys are masters of a technique. This guy's a great dry fly fisherman, and this one's a great nympher, etc. That's all fine and dandy. But the guy who's CONSISTENTLY successful understands WHY, and thus can make good decisions based on where and when and how, and thus consistently put himself in the right place at the right time with the right technique to beat everybody's standard "expectation" for a given stretch of water. That's my personal definition of being a "good fishermen". Doing that while perfecting a technique defines a "great fisherman". Too many try to become great but ignore becoming good.

Some streams fish best when high and muddy. Some when low and clear. Some in summer, some in spring, others in fall or winter. Some are evening streams, some are morning streams, and some are best at midday. Some are dependent on a hatch, in which you have to time. Others are not. And conditions are not always the same for all streams. Tailwaters, of course, tend to hold back water and be low when everything else is flooding. During a rain, a forested stream generally gets high, but stays clear, while a farmland stream goes chocolate milk quickly. After a rain, a small stream or a true spring creek drops quickly, while the big, long rivers stay up for a long time.

There's just a million variables, and none are isolated, they all depend on each other. It's an incredibly complicated sport that can never be fully understood, but there are degrees of understanding. Understanding it better will enable you to more often be in the right place at the right time using the right technique. Others will call it luck and say "yeah, I had a day like that on that stream once, it was just your day". But some people seem to have an awful lot of lucky days.

Good job, and you're well on your way.

Posted on: 2013/10/15 14:37


Re: Same creek + different stretch of water = completely different fish behavior
Moderator
Joined:
2006/9/11 8:26
From Chester County
Posts: 8965
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Good post ^ by Pat.

The streams are fluid (excuse the pun ) and the best plan for a fishing trip is often no plan at all. You really should go with the flow....and the weather and maybe the hatches, etc.

As Pcrayed above, a good or consistently successful angler examines the conditions and matches the conditions with where and how to fish.

Before making decisions on where to fish, check the flow on USGS check out recent reports on hatches, check out the weather forecasts, etc. After a lot of rain, maybe head for the hills and fish the headwaters. During a dry spell, fish tailwaters or a spring creeks with decent flows. Cold front, forget bass fishing and fish for trout in a tailwater. In cold weather fish the warmest part of the day, warm weather plan to fish early morning and/or an evening, etc., etc. etc.

Just as important, when you arrive at the stream, to be successful pick the method of fishing that fits the situation best. High water, put away the dries and strip streamers along the bank. Low and clear, dry dropper and small nymphs. Rising fish.....you get the idea.

If you put yourself in a position to be successful by carefully choosing both where and how to fish, you will BE successful.....more often than not, anyway.


Posted on: 2013/10/16 6:50


Re: Same creek + different stretch of water = completely different fish behavior

Joined:
2009/4/1 21:52
From Johnstown, PA
Posts: 4469
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I if it was cloudy and swollen from thunderstorms the second time it really isn't even close to the same creek. And i also agree , at least with dry flies that in faster water they have less time to decide. NICE FISH!!!

Posted on: 2013/10/16 7:31


Re: Same creek + different stretch of water = completely different fish behavior

Joined:
2013/7/30 17:16
From Fairborn, OH
Posts: 312
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It seems that I missed a lot of good posts while I was out of the area. Thanks a lot for the replies. I'm actually looking at hitting the faster stretch of this creek again sometime in Mid-November when a friend from out of town comes in to visit. Undoubtedly, the water is going to colder and likely lower, and I am interested to see how the fish behavior and fly fishing dynamics either change or stay the same. I will definitely report back.

Posted on: 2013/10/21 20:19


Re: Same creek + different stretch of water = completely different fish behavior

Joined:
2009/4/1 21:52
From Johnstown, PA
Posts: 4469
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GOOD LUCK SIXGUN!!!!!! please let us know how you make out. With catches like that one in the pics i wouldn't call you a beginner.

Posted on: 2013/10/22 5:25


Re: Same creek + different stretch of water = completely different fish behavior

Joined:
2013/7/30 17:16
From Fairborn, OH
Posts: 312
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Thanks, Osprey. I'm definitely still a newbie, but what I lack in experience I make up for in willingness to go the extra mile and hike in to some tougher spots. That usually makes for less pressured fish and a great chance at a nice catch, even for a new guy. Put me on the more heavily frequented PA waters during peak season and my inexperience will probably show through a good bit. :)

Posted on: 2013/10/23 22:53






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