Trying to relive past fishing glory can be a real mistake. By trying to repeat the past, we often overlook the opportunity that is in the "here and now." Let's look at some of the many reasons/factors that the fishing this year just isn't the same as "last time."
Location matters, especially in the restaurant business. Seriously, the location you choose to fish on a river is very important. As is the location in the river column you choose to target (think weight and depth). But just because “last time” you had a good day in “that” spot on “that” river--using a certain size weight and “that” amount of leader beneath your indicator--it doesn’t necessarily mean that history will repeat itself “this time” or the next time you visit your favorite location.
Ask yourself some questions about the “last time” you had an amazing day at “that” spot. What was the level of the river (i.e. CFS)? What was the water temperature? What time of year was it? What insect hatch(es) did you encounter? What was the water clarity? The list goes on, but my point is if that if all (or most) of the variables aren’t the same as “last time,” then you really aren’t even standing in the same location as last time. Let me explain:
If the river is higher or lower than when you last fished “that spot,” then you are essentially fishing a different spot. As far as the fish are concerned, your amazing location is only amazing to them under certain conditions. Briefly, and incompletely, trout need someplace nearby for shelter from strong currents and predators (including us). They may, in fact, gain shelter in your favorite hot spot, which helps explain why you’ve had previous success at that location. Trout also need a location where they consume more energy than they expend. Again, your “spot” may fit the bill. But it will pay to consider how river conditions may have changed your spot from the last time you were there. And how you approach fishing it should change as well. In the extreme, your spot may be void of fish simply because water levels have forced the fish to move elsewhere.
Of course, there are many factors at play besides CFS that move fish from location to location. Some are mentioned in paragraph #2 above. Be prepared to fish the conditions you find "this time." As many factors as possible should be part of your calculation as to where to fish when your “spot” isn’t producing results. Keeping a fishing journal can be invaluable as a reference tool to remind you of past conditions and how today’s conditions may, or may not, differ. A quick skim of your fishing journal for conditions similar to the conditions you have in front of you “today” may result in a big decision regarding your choice of location; you may decide to fish a different river or fish miles upstream/downstream from your initial choice of location.
Ultimately, to be consistently successful in our fishing, we are talking about developing a very special skill. All successful anglers and especially successful fishing guides have developed the ability to examine the conditions of the river “today” and then decipher where the trout have located themselves on that day. They have developed the ability to target, on a changing, daily basis, the high probability locations (i.e. feeding lies) on the river to find feeding trout.
Often, a primary driver of a trout’s feeding lie is a simple examination of where a trout will be located given the amount of food available “today” given “today’s” river conditions (i.e. what locations provide the best balance of food consumed versus energy expended for the fish today). We’ll examine this skill in the next newsletter. But for now, think of it as finding a pattern to the trout’s feeding behavior on any given day. That way, if changes in river conditions have changed your “spot” from “last time,” you’ll not fall prey to the pitfalls of trying, and expecting, to “Relive Past Glory.” Not there’s anything wrong with amazing fishing should the stars align and history repeat!