On the Fly: The thrill of sight fishing | AspenTimes.com
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On the Fly: The thrill of sight fishing

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
A springtime bass.
Willy Klein/courtesy photo

If we boil it down, there are two ways to approach fishing the rivers and lakes here in the Valley. The first approach is known as “fishing the water” and the other style is called “sight fishing.” Fishing the water simply means searching likely areas with the appropriate flies, assuming there are fish in those spots. Sight fishing is the art of seeing a particular fish and presenting your fly to it. For most of us, when we get the opportunity, sight fishing is particularly thrilling.

We don’t always have the opportunity to sight fish, especially during non-hatch periods, but fall gives us some of the best heart-pumping visuals when trout begin to react violently to larger flies like streamers and hoppers. Fall gives resident brown trout a split personality of caution paired with hyper-aggression. Springtime offers awesome sight fishing opportunities to warm water lake species like bass and pike as well.

Polarized lenses are a must, take away surface glare on the water and allow your eyes to pierce through. I never look for an entire fish, usually what alerts me to the fish is an outline, a fin, or even the shadow on the bottom of the river or lake. Rising fish can be “sighted” as well, and if you pay attention, you will notice a feeding pattern that results in the fish breaching the surface every 10 or 20 seconds for example. Simply count down and present that dry fly.

Sight fishing is thrilling because we are choosing which fish to cast at, and yes, it is usually the biggest fish we see. Sight fishing also gives you specific information. Some river fish simply aren’t eating at all, others are focused on emergers beneath the surface film, nymphs deep in the water column, or adults poised for takeoff. Warm water lake species tend to focus on baitfish or crayfish during spring, so we bring along flies that imitate these foodstuffs. What we choose to do with this information can make or break our day on the water, so be prepared for the fish to tell you what they want.

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


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