Tip: Fish All the Feeding Lanes

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Fish All the Feeding Lanes

Jake High Stick Nymph FishingOver the years I’ve enjoyed the pleasure of fishing with many great anglers. Each has their own style, their own pace, and their own approach. What I’ve noticed in the best anglers is that they have the capacity to identify all the fishy water and to fish all of it effectively. It’s not that it’s always important to vacuum every fish from every spot, but, if you like catching fish most of the time it is important to be able to identify all the potential feeding lanes and to fish them effectively. Some days the fish will be in just one water type. If you’re not able to identify that and fish it with the right method you may just have to enjoy scenery, and nobody wants that. Right?

In thinking about this subject, I’m reminded of a particular day on a clear Eastern Utah freestone stream. As I began to blind cast to all of the usual lies, fish seemed to be entirely absent. The first hour or so was brutal and I neither caught, nor saw, any fish. I approached a nice looking run with a tailout that shallowed to just 8 to 10 inches of water. Just to try  it I covered the shallow flat water at the tailout with a large attractor, probably a PMX or Stimulator, and slurp. A nice brown sucked down the dry.

I covered the rest of the shallow tailout and caught 2 more, all browns and all over 16 inches. I continued to fish and found that nearly all of the actively feeding fish were in very shallow riffles and along the shallow banks and it turned out to be a great day with a lot of very nice fish. I had found the feeding lanes that were holding fish.

Here are a few things to think about in terms of feeding lanes:

  1. When searching for feeding fish, think about rivers and streams like freeways with multiple traffic lanes. Fish the nearest lanes first and then methodically fish the next and the next moving your casts laterally, then moving up a few steps and doing it again. Try to stay disciplined in your approach and you’ll be able to locate more fish.
  2. There are several dimensions to feeding lanes: lateral location in terms of distance from the bank (like the freeway described above), depth, distance from you and current speed. These are of course changed by rocks and other in-stream debris. To find more feeding fish try to locate the right distance from the bank, the right depth, keep your distance as far as you must and find the preferred current speed. Do this by fishing all of these water types methodically. When you catch fish remember how far from the bank, how deep, how far away and how fast the current was and start to concentrate on similar feeding lanes as you cover water.
  3. Remember to fish even the unlikely water sometimes. That may be the fast water, the shallow water, the water right on the bank or sometimes right in the middle of the stream. Like the day I described above, locating the right water for the feeding fish can sometimes save your day.

Try to fish all the lanes the next time you’re out, it may just surprise you where you find fish.

See you on the water.


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