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Lateral view of a Male Baetis (Baetidae) (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Dun from Mystery Creek #43 in New York
Blue-winged Olives

Tiny Baetis mayflies are perhaps the most commonly encountered and imitated by anglers on all American trout streams due to their great abundance, widespread distribution, and trout-friendly emergence habits.

Dorsal view of a Zapada cinctipes (Nemouridae) (Tiny Winter Black) Stonefly Nymph from the Yakima River in Washington
Nymphs of this species were fairly common in late-winter kick net samples from the upper Yakima River. Although I could not find a key to species of Zapada nymphs, a revision of the Nemouridae family by Baumann (1975) includes the following helpful sentence: "2 cervical gills on each side of midline, 1 arising inside and 1 outside of lateral cervical sclerites, usually single and elongate, sometimes constricted but with 3 or 4 branches arising beyond gill base in Zapada cinctipes." This specimen clearly has the branches and is within the range of that species.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
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rochester mn

Posts: 133
Dryfly on Jun 9, 2009June 9th, 2009, 1:49 pm EDT
Hello all, I have lurked for a while and figured it was time to jump in and participate. On my last outing once the Sulfers were done I tied on a big ugly Zoo Cougar and started chucking it. I had fished this particular stream once before this spring and had probably fourty strikes on a Zoo Cougar but not one hookup. Two I should have stuck but broke one off and forgot to set the hook on another decent brown. This last outing one fish simply chased it and then turned away another one came completely out of the water to chase my streamer, yet failed to even touch it. I was left scratching my head as my holy f@#k reverberated down the valley.

Am I pulling the streamer away? Should I pause more on my retrieve? Are the fish purposely chasing the streamer? Any guesses?
Streamer fishing is fun but I can't seem to hook anything.
Konchu's profile picture
Site Editor

Posts: 498
Konchu on Jun 9, 2009June 9th, 2009, 2:24 pm EDT
How soon after the sulfurs finished did you try the zoo cougar? the next day, or later the same day? It could be that the fish still are sulfur happy and haven't gotten serious about other stuff. just my 2c.
rochester mn

Posts: 133
Dryfly on Jun 9, 2009June 9th, 2009, 2:36 pm EDT
I fished the Zoo Cougar as the hatch trickled down. These were agressive follows where it would seem that the fish could have easily wacked it, so I don't know what was the problem. I was retrieving it very erratically so I may have pulled it away.
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Jun 9, 2009June 9th, 2009, 2:48 pm EDT
It's not necessarily you, Dryfly. Anyone who has fished streamers much has had experiences like this. One problem is that fish don't always strike at a streamer intending to eat it. Sometimes it seems to be more of a territorial or annoyance reaction, especially with big streamers like the Zoo Cougar. And sometimes the initial strike seems intended to stun the prey before eating it.

One tactic that might work when the last instance applies was suggested by George Daniels. He often fishes a big sculpin pattern and said that using a strip strike rather than a big motion of the rod will leave the fly in the trout's neighborhood, and the fish will often come back to it to eat it. I don't fish streamers nearly as often as I used to, so I haven't had recent opportunity to test that advice, but he's a very good fisherman.

I can recall a day much like you describe. I had counted more than thirty strikes in quick succession and only hooked one. I wrote it off to the fish's mood and switched to a nymph. Some get carried away (in my opinion) by devising multiple hook "stinger" arrangements in an attempt get the short strikers. That may sometimes get a few more hook-ups, but something about my sense of fair chase is offended by hooking a fish that didn't intend to eat my fly. Perhaps it is a sign of advancing age, but I am now much more to content to accept those days for what they are--an interesting and entertaining experience that is likely to be repeated (for at least a while longer, knock on wood). :)
rochester mn

Posts: 133
Dryfly on Jun 9, 2009June 9th, 2009, 3:50 pm EDT
The strip strike is a good idea, but it is so hard not to pull the fly out of the water. Its instinctual to yank the fly hard. The outing was not a wash though, two decent (13-14") browns on sulfur dries. That eases the pain a little:)
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Jun 9, 2009June 9th, 2009, 4:22 pm EDT
I know what you mean, Dryfly. It's easy to think about what you should have done as the fly sails past your ear. But we learn from these experiences, and that is their value. I'm glad the that the outing wasn't a wash, but ultimately you will probably remember the forty missed strikes longer than the two good browns. Failure is a great teacher and a companion to most of our success. The difference is that the memory will eventually become a fond one.

Best wishes and welcome to Troutnut,
Marquette, MI

Posts: 33
UPTroutBum on Jun 9, 2009June 9th, 2009, 4:50 pm EDT
Funny, very similar to my experiences last weekend on a large trout stream mostly filled with browns. I was pullin streamers through the soft holes behind large rocks, had many fish flash at my fly had two hook ups, one I pulled it right out of its mouth, the other had on for a couple seconds but lost it as soon as he got into the fast water away from the hole. Its addicting, im going after work tomorrow to try my luck again. Im going to focus on one steady strip to set the hook this time instead of lifting the rod.
" The true fisherman approaches the first day of fishing season with
all the sense of wonder and awe of a child approaching Christmas." John Voelker
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Jun 9, 2009June 9th, 2009, 5:21 pm EDT
I'll be curious to know how that works for you, UPTB. It may not be the answer to all short-striking trout, but it might be a good way to figure out if they are striking to stun the prey, or if it's just the trout's way of saying "Get off my lawn!" :)
Falsifly's profile picture
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 660
Falsifly on Jun 10, 2009June 10th, 2009, 4:42 am EDT
I’ve had similar experiences, not only with streamers, which I haven’t fished for many years, but also while swinging wets. I remember fishing after dark, casting down and across swinging a Prince, through some fast water. I felt a tick and thought it was a strike, so I continued making the same cast over and over again. More times than not I would feel a tick at the same spot in the swing; I was beginning to think I was hitting a snag. I made one more cast before moving and a very nice brown was hooked right at that spot.
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
JOHNW's profile picture
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
JOHNW on Jun 10, 2009June 10th, 2009, 9:56 am EDT
Another thought is that most trout are NOT meat eaters. They don't regularly feed on larger pray like minnows and as such can be very inefficient at attacking and killing the prey represented by streamers (medium to large minnows). It is only once a trout gets proficient at this that they gain truly large size and as such you may find that the big fish don't miss like smaller fish do.
Just my humble .02$
"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn
rochester mn

Posts: 133
Dryfly on Jun 10, 2009June 10th, 2009, 11:27 am EDT
How big does a trout have to get before it starts to switch over to prey like minnows or sculpin? These were probably about 15 inches, just a guess. I have had a good day on the same stream last year, just twitchng buggers along the LUNKER structures the local TU chapter put in. This makes me wonder that the retrieve may make a difference as I was ripping the Cougar back on the surface fast and erratically so I may have inadvertently pulled the streamer away. Since the buggers were basically dead drift with some twitches it may have been an easier target to eat.
It was an odd day though. I knew it would be overcast so I had planned to throw streamers to hopefully catch a better trout. It was those mayflies that screwed it all up :)Didn't even know this stream had them. A pleasent surprise.
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Shawnny3 on Jun 10, 2009June 10th, 2009, 1:23 pm EDT
I was going to suggest something like the strip-strike Gonzo suggested. I would only add that the strike should be short so as not to yank the fly too far from the fish. If the fish is actually on, a big strike might not be necessary anyway because of the violence with which fish often hit streamers - they often hook themselves and the set is just to let you know they're on.

It might help you to pretend you're fishing with a tree right behind and above you. My strikes get much more disciplined when the surroundings punish me for my typical spasmodic response.

I don't know how helpful this is to troutfishing situations, but in warmwater situations I've had many experiences in which an initial strike or follow is unfruitful and extreme patience must be exercised to elicit a sure take. I can think of many times when a big bass would dart out from cover to within a few inches of my fly and then stop and stare at it. When I saw this occur, twitching or stripping the fly (which undoubtedly drew the fly away from the fish) almost never worked, but if I let the fly sit... and sit... and sit... for what was probably 5-10 seconds but seemed like a million, I could often get the fish to take. The take was typically very subtle, almost as though the fish were putting the fly into its mouth to inspect it. It was pretty satisfying to catch fish this way.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
Martinlf's profile picture
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Jun 10, 2009June 10th, 2009, 3:00 pm EDT
Has anyone tried one of the jointed streamers with the hook in the tail end? Or double hooks?
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Marquette, MI

Posts: 33
UPTroutBum on Jun 10, 2009June 10th, 2009, 4:58 pm EDT
On the same stretch of river my buddy just caught a fat 19 inch brown with a two hook streamer, I think its called the Sex-Dungeon, lol. Problem is when it hooks the front hook, the second sets itself somewhere else on the fish, dunno how you feel about that, I have mixed feelings. I went out today and caught some nice ones with a big black wooly, but missed probably 4, and 2 of them were very sudden pulls that caught me off guard and jerked my shoulder forward. I need to hook up with one of those. Oh and they say most browns move over to to minnows crawfish, etc at around 14-16 inches depending on the food supply.
Good call with whoever said that the smaller trout arent efficient at attacking prey like the bigger ones, theyre mouths just arent big enough nor are they really use to getting ahold of prey that size. BTW, I did some re-reading in my orvis trout book on streamer techniques, some good info for however has it.
" The true fisherman approaches the first day of fishing season with
all the sense of wonder and awe of a child approaching Christmas." John Voelker
Aaron7_8's profile picture
Helena Montana

Posts: 115
Aaron7_8 on Jun 12, 2009June 12th, 2009, 4:36 pm EDT
I fish for Browns predominantly. I have noticed that it is really a completly variable situation as far as retrieves go. Some days you cannot strip fast enough and other days you have to count them off even with an upstream cast it just depend on the conditions. I usually have te best luck with fast strips of 10" to almost two feet with pauses every three or four strips or until the current gives it a belly.
Like Gonzo said I believe fish on certain days to just not want anything in their sightline or feeding lane and will chase off anything.
I read in Prospecting for trout (I think) that at that approx. 14" mark in most freestones brown switch to a 90% minnow/crayfish 10% instect diet while rainbow are the exact opposite not seeming to vary their foraging paterns greatly.

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