Photos By: Matt Bornhorst
“You should’ve been here yesterday”. We have all heard the success stories from other anglers. Usually it’s on the days when it seems your luck has run low. It’s easy to get stuck in a pattern of fishing the places and flies that brought success yesterday, last week, or the previous season. We probably all have a favorite run, riffle or hole on a stream or river. You know the one you walk to in the morning darkness to beat all the other guys there. But sometimes we become too anxious or unwilling to change to continue to hone our skills, challenge ourselves, and try new things outside what our normal routine is. We at times take the advice of others rather than explore the possibilities for ourselves.
Getting out on the water for me is an escape from the nine to five normal box of my work week. If I fished the same hole, five days a week, took orders from other anglers on what to use and had four of my fishing partners stand stream side and complain about each other, I believe fishing may become very much like work and a lot less enjoyable.
Last month we were fishing a stream where I could almost be certain every other angler was drifting nymphs and wet flies. Over the last few weeks I had great success fishing cicada patterns, but the hatch had come to an end and the forest returned to its normal decibel level. Watching big fish rise for giant foam flies had me wired up and I stuck with the trick, only this time fishing a crazy eyed “cartoon hopper”. I had lost a few fish throughout the day to epic rainbow aerial acrobatics fishing the water most other anglers had passed up. The last cast of the day was into a small cut in the stream bank. The stream was maybe 10 feet wide here. I’ve passed through this section of water several times and never placed a fly into this particular spot, thinking it was too small and there was better water ahead. I asked my pal Matt if he wanted to drop a fly in there before I did and he turned it up. First cast that cartoon hopper swept fast through the pocket and a big rainbow appeared from nowhere and slaughtered that silly hopper in a flash. It was an incredible site that beat watching an indicator pass by you all day.
Next time you are out, explore what the rest of the water has in store for you. Examine every pocket, rock, root jam and undercut. Don’t be afraid to tie on something different, be an innovator and live outside the box.