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River Valley Outdoors
Fly Fishing Stillwater Ponds
Fishing in a lake or pond is quite different than fishing in the moving waters of a stream or river. Water temperatures in still water vary according to depth, and fluctuate more than temperatures in moving water. In a lake, water temperatures may change five to ten degrees by shifting the position of a thermometer ten to 20 feet vertically. A stream may only change a few degrees from top to bottom, possibly because the warm and cold water is constantly being mixed by the current.
Anglers need to find water temperatures that provide ideal feeding conditions; specific to the fish they are trying to catch. For trout, those temperatures are around 62 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Finding the depth where these premium temperatures are located is easy; simply lower a thermometer down in ten-foot increments until the numbers match the correct feeding temperatures.
Successfully presenting a streamer to fish in this specific temperature zone requires a few special tactics, nothing too difficult though. Remember that the ideal temperature is located at a certain depth, and that this temperature range varies slightly. If anglers could view a lake from underwater and see the ideal feeding temperature as a red color, they would see a two- to three-foot red slot, parallel to the surface of the lake, at one specific depth.
What an angler should attempt to do is to keep their offering in this slot throughout the entire retrieve. Get as much line out as possible and time the descent to correspond with the right depth. While waiting for the offering to drop to the right depth, strip more line out from the reel and allow it to sink below the surface near the boat. This method creates a parallel retrieve and keeps the fly in the ideal zone longer, thus increasing the chance of a strike.
The retrieve must be varied to be effective, and it must also match what the angler hopes to imitate. For example, a dying smelt will swim strong and quick for a short distance, and then remain momentarily suspended before it makes another run. To imitate this bait-fish, an angler should retrieve three feet of line as fast as possible in two or three stripping motions, then pause before stripping in more line. A couple of short stripping motions should be added occasionally to avoid a monotonous pattern. Wounded bait fish do not swim in a monotonous, routine fashion.
This casting method should be performed in a clockwise direction, around the canoe or boat. The angler would start at the 12 o’clock position, cast out as far as possible, count up to ten seconds for the descent, and then begin stripping in line.
After casting out once to each number on the face of an imaginary clock, the angler will completely circle the boat and return to the 12 o’clock position. Repeat the same sequence, only let the line sink for a count of 15 seconds, then try it again with a count of 20 seconds. Timing will depend on the type of line that is being used.
Successfully fishing stillwater with a flyrod takes time and proper preparation. A good indication of accurate preparation and a precise retrieve will be a strong tug on the line as a lunker takes the imitation.