Some people are just “fishy.” Among anglers, that’s tall praise.
You probably know what I mean. You’re out for an afternoon on the river with friends, and it’s a pretty average day. But for some reason, Susie is catching fish left and right, while everyone else is struggling. The consensus: “That Susie is fishy!”
The truth is, there really isn’t anything supernatural going on. Most of the “fishy” people I know have one simple thing in common: They’re smart enough to do what the fish tell them to do.
So many anglers get a plan in mind and then set out to impose their will on the fish. “I’m going to cast this caddis fly and watch them eat it.” Or better yet, once they’ve thrown the caddis at a trout and watched as the fish slowly ascended, inspected the fly, and flat-out refused it, what do they do? They cast again! At the same spot with the same fly. “I’m sure he’ll eat it this time …” As if you’re going to beat the fish into submission.
It doesn’t usually work that way. A refusal tells you to switch flies, probably sizing down, right then. A splashy rise tells you it could be a caddis eat. A subtle disturbance on the surface with no clear sign of a nose poking up might prompt you to try an emerger fly pattern. Watch a trout eat for five minutes … it rises to the right, then two feet to the left, then drops back in the current two feet, and repeats that three times. Where’s your best cast going to land after that fish feeds two feet left?
Watch what the river does, and what the fish do. They’ll tell you how to go about your fishing, much better than any guide, or YouTube video, or book or magazine article ever will.
Crossing that threshold from trying to impose your will on the fish, over to letting the fish dictate how you play the game—that’s the golden rule of effective trout fishing on any level, anywhere, and the secret to being “fishy.”