Sometimes, you can learn an awful lot more about a river, and specifically where fish will be holding in a river, by looking at it from above, rather than standing in it. Granted, that’s not always that easy when you are fishing in flat terrain. But I know plenty of anglers who have been driven to climb a tree now and then. Heck, the great writer Zane Grey is reported to have had his personal valet climb the trees by his favorite steelhead river to give him some direction. I don’t know how fair that was, really, but if I ever have a personal valet, I think I will try that too.
For the time being, I climb a lot of rocks and look at the water from there. There are a few reasons for this. First off, I like to get a sense of where the shadows are, and where they are moving. You also get a lot better sense of water depth when you’re up high. Not all dark water is deep water, and if you see the weed mats from up high, you won’t be as easily fooled when you’re standing in the current. From a higher vantage point, you can take in a lot more perspective. The fish might be rising in a certain pool 300 yards upstream, and you won’t necessarily know that if you’re only seeing things from river level. Maybe the most important reason for taking a climb before you fish is to soak in the beautiful scenery. I sometimes feel like watching the whole system at work, especially seeing fish feeding from afar, is as satisfying as the tug on a line.
Either way, take a day next summer and climb a little before you fish. Spend a good half hour up there, and see if it helps.
— Kirk Deeter