Still Water Fly Fishing

Air Born Still Water Fly Fishing

The noticeable quiet of a late summer morning on still water is
unlikely to become a routine experience for many who devote the majority
of their fishing time to the rivers of Henry’s Fork country. However,
most will submit to a welcome change of pace as the season begins its
transition into autumn.

While certainly soothing in its own way, the murmur of moving water
denotes a quicker pace in the rhythm of water influenced by gravity when
applied to the behavior of trout and what is required in their capture
on a fly rod.
With constant motion attached to all that lives in this environment we
can find ourselves motivated by a sense of urgency to make things happen
rather quickly in the false sense that what is moving is actually
leaving. On still water, it seems different.

Reflected on a liquid mirror, the dual image of land and sky and all
else that lies on or close to an undisturbed surface brings a visual
calm to the perception of water that seems only able to be moved by the
wind. And it is in this morning calm that I begin to understand how
those like my friend, Gareth Jones can become as strongly connected to
the still water experience as I am to moving water.

From Gareth, I have learned that a lake possesses unseen currents
beneath the surface and that underwater organisms such as insects and
fish are by necessity, always moving. I know now that finding the
correct zone with respect to the depth I am fishing subsurface patterns
will improve my success rate. Also explained is that fishing 3 or 4
different flies on a long leader can make more sense than applying a
single pattern when probing the depths of lake or pond. Also to be
considered is a trout’s reluctance to pursue prey in the direction of a
low angled sun. Not learned from Gareth, however, is the ability to
repeatedly cast 90 feet of fly line while seated in an anchored boat –
the guy is that strong – But his ability is only half of it. Using and
casting with the correct fly fishing tackle is the other half, you try punching a 4wt out over 90feet in consecutive casts throughout the day and you’ll know about it!

While I do not necessarily find dry fly fishing on still water to be
more satisfying than the sudden weight of an unseen, subsurface take, I
do confess to appreciating the visual excitement of fishing to an ever
moving surface feeder.
Callibaetis Still Water Fly Fishing
Late summer is prime time for hatches of Callibaetis and Trico mayflies
on many of our local lakes and reservoirs. Damsel flies and meaty
terrestrials like hoppers, beetles, and winged ants also become active
and available in this time frame, and this combined menu can bring the
eyes of hungry and opportunistic trout toward the surface.

In calm conditions, the location of a rising trout in still water is
often determined by sound as much as sight. The audible gulp as an
insect is taken from the surface is a still water feature that relates
to quiet, although calm is not always part of the package.

Perhaps due to a sensitivity to overhead danger from predators, still
water trout usually display a reluctance to linger near the surface
following a rise to a floating food source. And because they quickly
disappear from sight and normally obey no defined feeding path, much
guesswork is involved with regard to where the next rise will appear. In
this situation, relaxed, efficient casting can give way to frantic
flailing as a target fish takes a natural only a foot from your offering
or turns to feed in a direction different from your hopeful guess. The
real chaos occurs when you become surrounded by un-patterned feeding and
try to change the direction of the cast in mid-stroke. Maintaining
discipline and composure may be the most difficult aspect of this type
of lake fishing, and a take is nearly always hard earned.

Bank Cruiser Still Water Fly Fishing
Like river fish, still water trout will often cruise the shoreline in
search of what is often a random assortment of aquatic and terrestrial
food items. Because water is typically more shallow along the edges a
longer cast is often needed to avoid spooking trout that are more
comfortable in greater depth. A more linear feeding path helps to
simplify the task of getting the fly in front of the always moving
target but careful calculation must be applied to placing it at a point
that matches the feeding pace. Efficiency is paramount when fishing to a
traveling fish that may allow only one or two casts before moving out
of range.
In the right light conditions, subsurface feeders can also be spotted as
they prowl the edges for nymphs and other underwater life forms. Sight
fishing on still water with weighted fly patterns is especially exciting
when the size of the objective is known and the reward of a perfect
cast is as visual as the rise to a dry fly.

Rich and Millie Still Water Fly Fishing
As one whose experience and expertise lies mainly in the details of
fishing moving water, I have only respect and gratitude for those still
water specialists like Gareth Jones who has taught me so much. This
particularly applies to those times when their lessons result in a
special catch that would not happen otherwise. Some of my most memorable
trout in recent years have come while applying those shared techniques
on local lakes like Henry’s and Sheridan. Hebgen Lake and Island Park
Reservoir are also productive and enjoyable still waters as are numerous
smaller lakes in the higher elevations of this region west of

While the Henry’s Fork and, to a lesser extent, other rivers continue
to own the majority of my heart, there will always be room for those
quiet mornings on still water which, ultimately, are not so different
after all.

Reward Still Water Fly Fishing


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