On The Fly: Taking the perfect fish photo

Scott Spooner
On The Fly

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. Most fly fishers, when starting out, take a picture of virtually every fish they catch. 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 in the grass or snow to get a picture, and this is one of the worst things you can do to a trout. 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 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 shot. Time is of the essence, so act quickly. Underwater shots also always seem to look good, capturing the fish in its natural environment can be quite beautiful. Take more pictures than you think you’ll need. Once at home, you’ll often realize a shot is out of focus or missing the fish entirely. 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.

You also can 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. You have thousands of subjects out there ready to pose for you.

“On the Fly” is provided weekly by the staff at Taylor Creek Fly Shop in Basalt.