On the Fly: No picture, no fish

Scott Spooner
On the Fly

A “macro shot” of a local cutthroat trout. Scott Spooner/Courtesy Photo

It never fails. You get that fish of the season in your net, and there isn’t anyone within miles to help you take a photograph. You know what they say, no picture, no fish. Most new anglers take a picture of virtually every fish they catch, but over the years the novelty wears thin and we end up taking fewer and fewer. Certain catches deserve that great shot though, regardless of how long you’ve been casting flies to trout.

When fishing solo, shooting a great photograph can be a challenge. The main concern is treating the fish with care. We have all seen that angler laying his or her catch (gasping for air) on the bank to get a picture. This is one of the worst things you can do to a trout; or any fish, for that matter. I personally hold my breath when I have a fish out of the water to remind me to move quickly — because they can’t breathe, either. Trout have a protective “slime” that acts as a barrier between them and the rest of the world, and when fish are left to flop on the bank or are handled with dry hands, this barrier is compromised. Simply put, never lay a fish on the bank to take a picture.

Consider your options when fishing solo. Many of today’s cameras and phones have a timer function, which can be augmented by using a small, bendable tripod. Keep your subject in deeper water, inside a soft net while setting up the picture, and remember time is of the essence. A good tip to remember is when the eye of the fish is in focus, usually the body will be, too. Keeping your camera in a warm pocket during cold months ensures it is ready when you are, too.

You can also consider going “macro” in your shot. Often a picture of the tail, skin, or head taken up close can be quite interesting and showcase the individual uniqueness of your subject. The tail of an especially large trout can tell the story just as well as a traditional “grip and grin” photograph. Taking excellent solo fish pictures isn’t easy, but practice makes perfect if you let your creative juices flow. After all, you have thousands of subjects out there ready to pose for you!

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or


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