I spend many hours wading Southern streams, usually chasing trout. Through late summer local streams typically run low and seriously clear, and the fish turn painfully cautious. If a trout has time to give my lure a good look, that fish probably won’t bite. Similarly, once the fish spots me or otherwise senses my presence, I’m wasting time trying to catch that fish.
With those things in mind, I approach every pool carefully. I stay back from water’s edge or well downstream initially, scout out specific spots that should hold fish in ambush mode, and plan a first cast that lands my offering upstream of a prime ambush position and uses natural currents to deliver the lure to the zone.
Whether or not I catch a fish, I can then make another calculated cast to likely holding spot near the opposite bank and potentially catch different fish by surprise, and then I might move a few steps upstream to make a cast into the current that feeds the head of the run.
Were I instead to fire my first cast up the center of the pool and work it down the middle, I might draw trout from hiding places. They’d have time to follow and analyze my offering in the open water, though, and would most likely turn away without striking—and the pool would be spoiled.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t sit and have a planning meeting with myself before every upstream move. The process becomes pretty intuitive. That said, when streams get low and the fish become tough, investing a few minutes to dissect pools and calculate casts clearly can result in catching far more fish.
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