You can’t really learn a river until you’ve learned to fish. You need some confidence in your skills to cover a section of new water, to fish it well and then walk away with some opinions about what that river holds rather than asking questions about your techniques and decisions.
Learning a river comes by dedicating your time. You must give a part of your life to a river to learn it from top to bottom. And yes, it takes seasons on the water just to crack the surface. (And it probably takes a decade or more to crack the code.)
But for many of us, for those who live a fly fishing life, who dedicate our free time to pursuing trout and learning the game, the questions that a watershed asks are seductive. Why do you find fewer large trout in the lower island section in the fall? What river conditions are required for trout to move to the shallows and comfortably feed after dark? When should you expect the Sulfur hatch, and are there two sizes or just one?
These questions have answers. And the more we fish one waterway, the more details we discover, the more data we enter into a catalog of knowledge about a favorite trout stream.
Rivers are an ever-changing, complex ecosystem of life, water and land. They are influenced by weather, surrounding community development and sometimes the anglers themselves. Nothing is static. Nothing is truly predictable. But there’s also no denying the habit of trout. And once you spend time wading with these fish, observing their habits and watching how the changes affect their behaviors, then time itself finally stacks in your favor. The observant angler becomes part of that ecosystem. And we begin to predict the paths of trout by instinct.
Achieving that level of knowledge is a rare reward. But it is attainable. And the journey toward that knowledge is a respectable pursuit.
I’m joined again by the Troutbitten crew, Trevor Smith, Matt Grobe, Bill Dell, and Austin Dando. I can tell you that each of these fishermen know their local waters exhaustively, from to deep to shallow, from bank to bank, winter, spring, summer and fall. They know the rhythms of their waters.
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