Last week was an odd one on the fishing front. It began with a drive down to Windsor to drop our kids off at their grandparents’ place for the week. Since I was only staying for one night, I thought it best to leave most of my fishing gear back at home. However, as their place is on the water, I packed one of my spinning rods along with the kids fishing stuff – I figured I’d be able to sneak at least a few casts in the evening. I brought only a single lure: a weedless frog, still in the package. The canal they live on weeds over pretty heavily in the summer and there are lots of bass to be caught if you have the right gear.
In continuation of my last post about exploring new waters, I ventured out to yet another new section of an old river last week. This is another spot I’ve driven past many times, but never realized was accessible due to mostly private property and lack of parking. However, a long chat with a friendly fellow on the side of the river a while back tipped me off, so I decided to give it a try.
On my first visit, unknowing of what the river would hold, I decided to fish upstream. It was a warm, calm day and the river was fairly wide and shallow here, with some nice riffles and runs and lots of small boulders for fish to hold behind. Overall, the combination of easy wading and fairly easy casting and drifts was a welcome change. The main challenge here was presenting a fly upstream in the clear shallow water, where the fish were spooked extremely easily.
I hooked into two browns almost immediately, the first which I lost after it unexpectedly ran at me and I failed to keep enough tension on the line. The second was gently sipping bugs off the surface under a fallen tree before my yellow stimulator fooled it.
It’s surprising how much time can be spent learning all the subtitles of a river. While the knowledge gained on a single river is transferable, there will always be unique challenges and secrets to discover when fishing new water. Often, it’s difficult to pass up fishing your familiar stomping grounds – that spot you’ve put countless hours into and feel the most confident fishing. It’s easy, it’s fun and there’s a high chance that you’ll net a good number of fish. Exploring new water often results in fish-less days, which can be frustrating, especially when your fishing time is limited. However, not only will fishing unfamiliar water make you a better fly fisher, but every once in a while you’ll discover a hidden gem.
Every year I spend a great deal of time exploring new water. Most of the time I’m simply scouting out new sections of my favourite local river, though occasionally I’ll travel to a new river or stream. My most recent fixation is a section of water that I’ve overlooked for years, mainly out of laziness and a hunch that it would be unproductive and impossible to fish. This is a smaller branch of a local river, with much different characteristics from the main branch. The river here is narrow, fast and broken with lots of little pools. Turns out, it’s exactly what I love in a river: scenic, full of character and challenging. This is the type of water where stealth, patience and effort pays dividends.