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See This? Do That: Tips for Catching Trout In a Recessed Target Area

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October 04, 2011

See This? Do That: Tips for Catching Trout In a Recessed Target Area

By Kirk Deeter

This is a situation I encounter fairly often. A trout is tucked under an overhang-- in this case it's a rocky "grotto," but it might also be a grassy cut bank, a bunch of willows, a log jam, etc.

The water is clear. The fish are in slow current. The main current is between me and the fish. I have not seen the fish eat on top, and I know there are sticks and rocks that would swallow up a nymph fly, not far below the surface. What do I do?

1. First, I'm going to decide on my "targets within the target." What part of this run looks the absolute juiciest? See that pile of sticks on the right-top of the photo, and the indent in the rocks just above it? If I were a trout, I think that's where I'd hang out (that's the deepest cover, and currents and bugs are collecting there), so that's target A. Target B is just below those sticks. Target C is the depression at the top of the wall on the left. And target D is all the slack water in the middle of the pool (though I assume I'll find smaller fish there.) So I'm going to hit them in that order, A, B,C, D.

2. I'm going to fish a dry fly. I could go with a streamer, but a streamer will make a bigger splash in that calm water, so I'll only get one or two shots. Besides, I'm not sure what kind of crud it might hang up on below the surface (if this water were a tad faster and higher, I would indeed choose a streamer). I'm seeing mayflies here and there (I've spent several minutes watching before I cast). If I saw caddis, I'd use a caddis dry. But I see mostly mayflies, so I'm going with a little parachute Adams.

3. I'm not going to use a spotter fly. Too much distraction. At this distance, and in that flat water, I can see the little parachute fly fine. So I want to limit the moving parts, and get right down to business.

4. I'm going to make a downstream presentation. I could try that reach cast from the side. If I were really brave I could wade across and try to cast from below the fish, but those sticks are a problem, and I don't trust a sidearm or hinge cast as much as I think I can pinpoint a downstream drift.

5. Because I am making a downstream presentation, I realize I have to crouch down low (I am potentially in the fish's field of vision), and make as few movements (including false casts) as I possibly can.

6. I want the fish to see the fly first (and only). So I make the fly land only a few feet in front of target A, and then I lift the fly line off the water. Fly lines grab currents, and in doing so, they screw up drifts. I'm not going to monkey around with mending and all of that, because this is a short shot (20 feet). I cast, and then lift as much fly line off the water, leaving only the fly, tippet, and some leader to get sucked by the current into the zone.

7. Whoa! There he is. I just saw a huge trout come out of the cave and almost eat my fly (this is really how it happened). What do I do-- cast again? Heck no. I switch flies. Mr. Trout was really interested in my first bug, but ultimately said no. So I size down with the same pattern that grabbed its attention, changing a size #16 parachute Adams for a size #18 parachute Adams. I wait a few minutes, and make the same cast.

And on that cast to target A, I hook, then later land, a native Colorado River Cutthroat trout on a dry fly, on public water. The trout taped out at just under 20 inches. It was my best fish of the year, caught on the South Fork of the White River in Colorado. 

Comments (18)

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from Brian W. Thair wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Thank you for #7. Never would have thought of that.

Are you standing in the water? If so, do you imagine that clanking rocks together with your boots has any effects?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

I was standing in the water, and I do think clunky wading can put the fish off... I'm not sure if it matters as much when the water is moving fast like this.

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from buckhunter wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

I betcha most guys would have cast again after the first refusal. I know I would have.

I try my best never to be in a situation I have to cast downstream but I can see where that brush pile would change that.

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from ckRich wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Great detail, Deeter. It helps me a ton to have a step-by-step example of a much more experienced/better fisherman's thought process.

One question... would the presentation choice change for a southpaw, who might be more comfortable with a different cast from a different angle?

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from Koldkut wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Single handed modified spey casting would work excellent for this situation. http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/how-fish/2009/08/video-tip-single-ha...

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Deeter...That's when I go to my 19 ft. 6" Tankera rod, and dap it over there!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hurckles wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

nice! i gotta print that out and stick it in my chestpack!

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from vasportsman wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Wow, never would have thought to go smaller either, great post!

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Buckhunter...I always cast downstream if possible...down, and across...fly first, and not the tippet showing.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

sayfu, We would make great fishing partners. You head downstream, I head upstream. I also like fishing with lefties. You can stand next to a lefty and both can cast.

I have filled my buck tag early so I can concentrate on muskie on the fly but discovered someone stole both batteries out of my boat. Sigh... First my son totals my truck now I need two batteries.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Buckhunter,
Good to hear you bagged a buck, bad to hear you had a thief amongst you. I had some kids break into my car the other nite, and steal change. Don't like the feeling my domain has been violated. A long time ago my daddy told me "up a creek" is not a good situation to be in, so I have been fishing down ever since. :)

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from Micropterus24 wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

I am really enjoying the See This Do that posts, great stuff.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Just remember, you can not have any flyline land on that fast water so it appears you could not fish that soft water ledge from where the photo was taken. You would have to wade out towards the soft water side. And a good question that often gets asked by new anglers is.."Is it ok to have the flyline land first, and then the fly last? Most would say, to not really worry about that. In that case it is best to have the fly land first, then the line. Not always easy to do.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Thank you. ckRich, to answer your question, I think this particular shot might have actually been easier for a southpaw, as you wouldn't have to be reaching across your body to mend the line... but since it was such a short shot, I think it was 6 one way, half dozen the other. It's a very good question, though, and it's sparked an idea about a situation where you might be forced to use the off hand.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

As you have thoughts on topics to tackle for this, just let me know by way of comments that describe a situation, and we'll see if we can answer them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

What is points out for many, including myself a lot of times, is......the best fishing spots are ALWAYS on the other side of the river!! Why is that?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tkbone wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Agree this is a great series of posts and the logic is sound. My initial impression just looking at the picture is that it had wooly bugger written all over it, either drop it in front of me and let it dead drift into the hole or swing it with a high stick left to right. I would not trust my ability to drop a small dry fly in there and I would expect a fish to cover some distance for a bigger meal. Maybe if I were feeling confident I might try to bang a hopper or cricket off the rock. Of course, these are the reasons I don't catch a lot of 20 inchers! Congrats to Deeter.

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from swiss1 wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Wow, never would have thought to go smaller either, great post!

http://www.skf-bearing.cc

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Post a Comment

from Sayfu wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Deeter...That's when I go to my 19 ft. 6" Tankera rod, and dap it over there!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian W. Thair wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Thank you for #7. Never would have thought of that.

Are you standing in the water? If so, do you imagine that clanking rocks together with your boots has any effects?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

I was standing in the water, and I do think clunky wading can put the fish off... I'm not sure if it matters as much when the water is moving fast like this.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

I betcha most guys would have cast again after the first refusal. I know I would have.

I try my best never to be in a situation I have to cast downstream but I can see where that brush pile would change that.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ckRich wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Great detail, Deeter. It helps me a ton to have a step-by-step example of a much more experienced/better fisherman's thought process.

One question... would the presentation choice change for a southpaw, who might be more comfortable with a different cast from a different angle?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Single handed modified spey casting would work excellent for this situation. http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/how-fish/2009/08/video-tip-single-ha...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hurckles wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

nice! i gotta print that out and stick it in my chestpack!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from vasportsman wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Wow, never would have thought to go smaller either, great post!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Buckhunter...I always cast downstream if possible...down, and across...fly first, and not the tippet showing.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

sayfu, We would make great fishing partners. You head downstream, I head upstream. I also like fishing with lefties. You can stand next to a lefty and both can cast.

I have filled my buck tag early so I can concentrate on muskie on the fly but discovered someone stole both batteries out of my boat. Sigh... First my son totals my truck now I need two batteries.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Buckhunter,
Good to hear you bagged a buck, bad to hear you had a thief amongst you. I had some kids break into my car the other nite, and steal change. Don't like the feeling my domain has been violated. A long time ago my daddy told me "up a creek" is not a good situation to be in, so I have been fishing down ever since. :)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Micropterus24 wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

I am really enjoying the See This Do that posts, great stuff.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Just remember, you can not have any flyline land on that fast water so it appears you could not fish that soft water ledge from where the photo was taken. You would have to wade out towards the soft water side. And a good question that often gets asked by new anglers is.."Is it ok to have the flyline land first, and then the fly last? Most would say, to not really worry about that. In that case it is best to have the fly land first, then the line. Not always easy to do.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Thank you. ckRich, to answer your question, I think this particular shot might have actually been easier for a southpaw, as you wouldn't have to be reaching across your body to mend the line... but since it was such a short shot, I think it was 6 one way, half dozen the other. It's a very good question, though, and it's sparked an idea about a situation where you might be forced to use the off hand.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

As you have thoughts on topics to tackle for this, just let me know by way of comments that describe a situation, and we'll see if we can answer them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

What is points out for many, including myself a lot of times, is......the best fishing spots are ALWAYS on the other side of the river!! Why is that?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tkbone wrote 2 years 28 weeks ago

Agree this is a great series of posts and the logic is sound. My initial impression just looking at the picture is that it had wooly bugger written all over it, either drop it in front of me and let it dead drift into the hole or swing it with a high stick left to right. I would not trust my ability to drop a small dry fly in there and I would expect a fish to cover some distance for a bigger meal. Maybe if I were feeling confident I might try to bang a hopper or cricket off the rock. Of course, these are the reasons I don't catch a lot of 20 inchers! Congrats to Deeter.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from swiss1 wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Wow, never would have thought to go smaller either, great post!

http://www.skf-bearing.cc

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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