With summer starting out with the ground being so dry and parched, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll have to dust off any trout I pull from the streams that are now just trickles. It sort of makes one wonder when you look at the stream conditions as of late.
In the last few weeks, water levels have dropped quickly, to a seriously low position that has left some fish dead due to low oxygen content.
It’s a condition that leaves trout in a position where they struggle to survive. Those are the times when I leave them alone as just hooking and fighting one to net may spell doom for it. But many anglers look upon low water as offering them a definite advantage as the fish stack up in predictable locations and become easily accessible.
They congregate in any section that has even a little stronger of a current than the rest of a stream. They tuck themselves behind features that break the current, or stack up in shallow riffles where another small stream or cool water spring enters the main flow. It makes them very visible in the shallow flow where they seek fresh oxygen, not only to anglers, but herons, ospreys, raccoons and other predators.
We all know that the sight of a large trout to an angler is a temptation many can’t resist, especially if they’ve never caught one that large. If the urge is too much to resist, you need to remember that the importance of a stealthy stream approach is more important now more than ever.
Without question, if you give away your presence before the fish ever gets a glimpse of your offering, it’s never going to bite. You not only need to stay out of sight, but you also want to make sure your foot fall vibrations don’t reach the fish. Once they realize you are there, they will normally stop feeding for a while.
If you do succeed in making your approach good, and drifting your bait into position where the trout readily picks it up, be sure to land the fish as quickly as possible. Avoid a prolonged fight that will totally exhaust the fish, keep it in the water as much as possible — even for photos — and then release it as soon as you can.