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Tackling Small Trout Rivers and Streams

Finding a good fishing spot with peace and tranquility can be a bit of challenge during seasonal peaks. And changes in your fishing environment may require changes in your techniques. Here, resident writer Drew Clement provides five indispensibe tips to aid your angling experience.

A lot of people that are not incredibly familiar with fishing and fly fishing will tell you that fishing is all about catching fish. However, real anglers know that it is about far more than that. Interacting with wildlife, the weather, privacy on the water and the calm of streams or rivers make the experience about far more than just bringing fish home. Sadly, it is getting harder and harder to find that peace and serenity on large waters so more anglers are heading off to private, little streams and small rivers.

Will these waters may not house a lot of large trout, they will hold greedy fish that are willing to snack down on anything that passes by. However, hungry doesn’t mean stupid either, and the same thought must go into how you will tackle these waters.

While a lot of fishers realise that there are hungry fish in small streams and rivers, they fail to realize that these waters need to be fished with different techniques. If you want to have success on the small waters then you need to familiarize yourself with small stream tactics. Once you have learned these tactics they may even benefit you when you head back to larger water. So, let’s get right into some small stream fishing tips.

Fishing Small Rivers and Streams Tip #1- Sneak Up on the Trout

Small streams offer less room for trout to swim around in, and that often means there are less places for the fish to hide. However, this also means that the trout are more aware of their surroundings and cautious of any changes or disturbances. If the trout are aware of your presence then they are less likely to strike your bait and you are less likely to leave the stream happy.

Be sure to move cautiously and slowly when approaching a small river or stream. Stay out of the water whenever possible, but if you are wading then you want to always slide your feet and never slosh water around. Creep quietly along the bank whenever possible and stick to neutral colors that do not allow you to stand out. Trout will notice bright colors and it is best to mask your presence as much as possible.

Fishing Small Rivers and Streams Tip #2- Don’t Get too Comfortable

When you find a position in a small river or stream it is likely that the first strike will come on one of the first three casts. However, if your first cast smacks the water then fish will be spooked and are not likely going to stick around for the next cast. If fish are not striking then move onto the next opportunity instead of wasting good casts in a bad spot.

Fishing Small Rivers and Streams Tip #3- Scale your Gear Down

Small streams are not the place to be using heavy line or 18 inch leaders. In fact some casts will not need to go any more than 10 feet. In general, seven foot leaders work very well in small streams but you can go even shorter if you want to. This is where you are going to have to use precise casts as a slight mistake could lead to a cast that doesn’t even hit the water.

Fishing Small Rivers and Streams Tip #4- Think before you Cast

Finding a nice spot and then casting right away is one of the worst things that you can do when fishing small streams. Think about the type of cast you will be using, which obstacles you need to avoid, and how you will target the trout. Every run, pocket and pool is going to be different and has to be treated that way. That is often what makes small stream fishing so much fun. Just be sure to consider things like this and how your drift will play out before simply tossing a fly into the water.

Fishing Small Rivers and Streams Tip #5- Do Not Over Think your Fly Pattern

Every time that you have a good day trout fishing the first thing people will ask you is what fly you were using. However, there are much more important questions such as what kind of water you were fishing in, how deep it was, and so on. Small stream trout are not going to be too picky in terms of the fly you use as long as you use something natural. More often than not, the trout is not going to look any further than the color and size of your fly. If you are not getting any bites then consider whether or not you may have spooked the fish. If you are sure you haven’t then the best thing you can do is make a drastic change in your fly. Switch from a large fly to a small fly or a nymph to a dry fly, as only big changes are going to make a difference.

Trout fishing in small streams can be an incredibly rewarding and peaceful experience. However, the atmosphere is different and it has to be treated as such. Be cautious and really analyze the stream before you cast and you should be heading home with great stories and a delicious dinner.


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