If you fish Mat-Su Valley streams, chances are you’ve had some tough days —days when you can’t do anything right and it seems there isn’t a trout in any beat you have covered. We’ve all been there. Those days are frustrating, to say the least, but I’ve learned more from those tough days then I ever have when it has been lights out fishing. Fishing is a lot like anything: the more you practice, the better you become. Here are a couple tips to help get you into fish faster.
Make Small Changes
Small changes in your presentation can reap big rewards. For example, my brother-in-law Ben and I were fishing egg patterns just after the kings entered the river, hoping to fool trout while they looked for the egg drop. We fished bend after bend with no hook ups. I went up to the next size egg pattern, but kept the same color knowing the kings had just entered the river a week ago and the eggs should still be fresh. Doing a little research online (check out Highway 3 Angler’s Fishing Report Roundups) can help you determine the best size and color. After just a few casts, I started hooking up. Ben switched his pattern, too, and started hooking up as well – success! We saved the afternoon due to a small change in presentation. I’m not talking about big changes like switching fly patterns or looping on a sink tip. For example, let’s say you are stripping streamers. Try switching colors but not sizes. The fish might not be honing in on black that day. Also, change your strip slightly. For gear fishermen throwing spinners: instead of switching size or going to a spoon, try switching colors and a variable speed retrieve.
We all have our pace when working a run. Slowing down and spending a little more time on a beat can be a great small change. Sometimes we just go too fast and in our impatience, miss fish. We’ve all had our buddy pick our pocket by grabbing a fish in a hole behind you when you had first drift. Usually on the Valley streams, we can take our time on a run and not feel hurried by another group behind us. Slow down and make sure you thoroughly cover the water that you are on. Fish near, far, up and down till you cover everything. Don’t be afraid to get in tight on those casts—we tie flies all winter long for a reason. You’ll get really good at tying leaders. Slowing down will also force you to fish water that you might have passed up—water that may be holding a fish or two. If you are fishing streamers you can draw them out.
Making small changes and slowing down your pace are great ways to improve your success on the road system streams. Give it a try when times are tough and your hook-up rate will likely improve.
Ryan McCormick started fishing Valley streams as a kid during family camping trips in the 80’s. Over 30 year’s later, he’s still finding new holes to fish.