View Full Version : New To Fishing in the Park

09-07-2009, 07:54 PM
Hello Everyone,

I have been on several fly fishing trips to the park in the last few months. Five to be exact. I know that catching fish in the park is much more difficult than other places, but I am having some real trouble. Every time I go I tell myself that I am going to approach things a little different. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. Today I fished west prong, and up in the Treemont area. I was only able to catch one small bow. But my brother was able to pull out one nice bow. My question is what is the best approach to take. I have fished swift water, calmer water and everything in between. I know that its all about catching the right drift and staying invisible to the trout, but I feel like I am doing this and just can't seem to get the bites. I have used every fly in my box. The green weenie, neversink caddis, parachute adams etc etc. When you see a run that you want to fish, how do you approach it. How much line do you put on the water? Just looking for some pointers.


09-07-2009, 08:21 PM
I'm about as good as you, but I have found I have more success on tail waters (and in the park in my case) if I have more leader and tippet. I used to fish about 9-10ft total and upped it to about 15 and have caught more fish. Just a thought.

09-07-2009, 08:31 PM
A couple of tips. Watch out for trout lying at the tail of pools. Spook them and they will race up the pool putting all the trout on red alert. Minimize your false casts. I always shoot a length of line about equal to the length of my leader, so that no false cast goes over the spot I am about to drop a fly (I fish dry flies almost exclusively). Avoid bright fly lines. Avoid wading in the pool you are about to fish to the extent possible. Crunching gravel puts the trout on alert. Trout like to lie on the eges of current. while I will run a fly down the midddle of it, my first casts go to the edges of the curren. Hope this helps.

09-07-2009, 08:53 PM
Be careful what you wear, colors that blend with the surrounding or that are muted enough that they don't make you stand out against the background behind you. It is also good to walk softly and as much as is possible to avoid wading. If you must wade, do so extremely slowly which not only lessens noise, also can help lessen falls.

There is a great little book called, "Curtis Creek Manifesto" that is a great instructional tool. You also might want to hire a guide for a half day or a day. They can help you hone your skills and even teach you a few things that might lessen your frustration tremendously.

Last but not least as others have said, the less you false cast, the better. I have found in the park that it is more a case of "chuck and duck" than casting. Be sure as well to be careful to "pick up" your line as you begin to retrieve or before beginning your back cast. Do this by lifting the rod tip so as to lift as much line as possible off the water, which lessens the amount of disturbance of the water by the line.


09-07-2009, 09:00 PM
First of all, it aint you that is the problem. Those park fish are the most contrary fish in the world. They also all stick together in agreement.
They are either all biting or not biting at all. What works on Monday won't work on Tuesday. Very picky fish. They have already decided what flies they will or will not bite before you even get there.
One time I caught several fish in the pouring rain after being skunked for weeks. Don't give up!

09-07-2009, 09:34 PM
Fish with someone who has done it for a long time, or better yet, watch one of those people. Might be a good idea to try a guide. One trip could teach you good fundamentals to build on.

09-07-2009, 10:09 PM

It is way more in depth than I could ever respond to. I also think that you have to stay relaxed and in the moment. I barely try to wade now, and pretty much try to keep most if not all of my fly line off the water. While I'm definately a newby, I am experienced in reading water and would be happy to go out with you sometime, as it was the kindness of others that have given me the knowledge to finally start catching goo numbers of fish. I can usually fish on Wednesdays and sometimes on Saturday. I'm sure you have already read the above, but it seems I get something new out of it every time I read it.

Good Luck,
James Locke

09-08-2009, 05:06 AM
Also make sure that you fish late afternoon, I've fished serveral times early and mid day and had to work very hard for a few fish, but around 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon on the same water, fish would just turn on and start hitting drys on every nice section of water.

09-08-2009, 05:48 AM
As pmike says,the Curtis Creek Manifesto will teach you everything you need to know about catching trout from small streams.

09-08-2009, 08:44 AM
Where can you get that book,Curtis Cr. Manifesto?
There are some good pointers to the questions posed by the original poster...like him I have only fished in the mountains a few times but I love going and plan on doing as much as I can in the years to come...it's a challenge because the tactics are different than anywhere else I've ever fished.
One thing I have had problems with is that a fish will hit or bump the fly without taking it....am I missing the strike because I'm too slow or is the fish just messing with the fly and not really seeing it as food?

09-08-2009, 09:51 AM
When I first started fishing in the park 25 yrs ago,I had the same problem.An old fellow gave me some ROYAL BONNYL mono and said to use as tippet-3' to end of leader.I've been using it ever since.Can't buy it anymore.It's greenish brown and completely disappears in the water.Important when water's gin clear.I forgot one day when I had scrambles brains from work,but remembered when I settled down and promptly started catching again! i use 9' tapered leaders +3' RB so prev post is righr on.Long leaders.God knows I ain't much on stealth,but walk soft and carry a big,long whippy stick.Oh,and when all else fails try an Orange Asher-aka Orange Palmer.Have you ever curled ribbon with a knife?Try same on dryfly tails.Curls em up like the naturals!

09-08-2009, 10:30 AM
LRO used to and I believe, still does carry the book Curtis Creek Manifesto and they have free shipping.


Jim Casada
09-08-2009, 12:02 PM
rockytopwoolybugger--For starters, take heart in the fact that once you reach a reasonable degree of proficiency in Park waters, you can catch trout most anywhere. I've been privileged to fish in a lot of wonderful places on three continents and New Zealand, and with the possible exception of slow-moving limestone streams under certain conditions, it doesn't get any tougher.
That being said, there's a great deal of useful wisdom in other responses. Some of it I'll repeat; and some will be new.
1. Go with a guide or someone who is really good. A day astream with a masterful angler can teach you a great deal.
2. Study to learn favored holding spots. There's no substitute for being able to read water.
3. Although no one has mentioned it, conditions change with the seasons--for example, you need a much longer leader and finer tippet this time of year than you do in late April.
4. You have to stoop to conquer; i.e., keep a low profile.
5. Bright is not right. Camo or earth tone clothing, dull colored lines, and caps which blend in are the ticket.
6. Roll cast most of the time, and a longer rod lets you do this better. If you aren't false casting you aren't scaring fish.
7. There's no substitute for building time. That is to say, you learn as you go. After almost 60 years at it in the Park, I think I'm just about ready to move from kindergarten to first grade. IN truth, one of the delights of fishing in the Park is, as Horace Kephart once wrote, realization that "in the school of the outdoors there is no graduation day."
8. Use as long a leader as you are comfortable with handling.
9. In my opinion, most folks fish too slow in most Park waters. Your first cast is the most important, and each succeeding one lessens the likelihood of a strike.
10. You'll catch more fish by placing heavy reliance on shank's mare. If you aren't familiar with the term, it refers to using your legs to walk--get back of beyond.
I devote a great deal of time and thought in my recent book to the various issues you raise, and I would hope you'll read it. Whether or not that is the case though, you can take heart in knowing you are fishing a beautiful part of the world, casting to wild fish, and floating flies by lots of trout. Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

09-08-2009, 12:17 PM
Wow, 60 years fishing the park. I can't imagine doing anything that long. Incredible.

Jim Casada
09-08-2009, 12:25 PM
Blue RaiderFan--Those six decades are the product of several factors--being blessed by having a father who was a fly fisherman (he's still living, turned 100 last month and still loves to talk about his years of fishing); living within walking distance of the Park; having parents who were sufficiently trusting to let me, from a quite young age, venture out on my own; having as my best fishing buddy in boyhood the son of a Park ranger; growing up in an era when things like fishing and hunting were what boys did (we didn't have a television and the phone was a party line one which I almost never used); having a whole host of unofficial mentors who gladly showed me the way. I've been blessed, and at the age of 67 I have enough perspective and can look back far enough to realize as much. Jim Casada
P. S. I just hope there's another decade or two yet to add to those 60 years!
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

09-08-2009, 12:37 PM
Sounds like you've stayed active and have a few good years left in ya' :smile: I'm trying to do the same. I've had some health issues that have slowed me down, but I'm slowly getting back to normal. One day soon, I will be able to head far up the trails like the rest of the fellas. Like a wise man once told me: "You stop movin', you die." So it's good you are so active. I can imagine the park (Townsend etc) looked a lot different 60 years ago. I wish I could have seen it. Got any old pictures in your book of your fishing adventures?

Jim Casada
09-08-2009, 12:51 PM
BlueRaiderFan--While there are a bunch of vintage photographs, including a fair number from pre-Park days, there's only one of me from the halycyon days of youth (loaded down with enough gear to camp for a month). That's one of my lasting regrets--that I didn't take more photos as a youngster. At least I've spent a lot of time as an adult making up for lost ground searching down vintage photos and in wielding a camera. Another regret is that I didn't record or at least write down my countless conversations with old timers. I remember a lot of it, but there's so much more that is lost forever. Still, I realize I was blessed just to have contact with so many wonderful fishermen and fly tiers. Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

09-08-2009, 01:08 PM
Also make sure that you fish late afternoon, I've fished serveral times early and mid day and had to work very hard for a few fish, but around 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon on the same water, fish would just turn on and start hitting drys on every nice section of water.

Although I often find that 4:00 is a great hour for fishing, you can catch fish all day long up in the Park. I am no expert, but IMHO it is more important to avoid fishing behind another angler than to worry about what time it is. The best way to do that is to hit the stream right at the crack of dawn. However, that isn't necessary by any means.

My last thought on the subject is that it is impossible to over estimate the value of a mentor. You can read about fishing all day and there is no substitute for time on the water, but the instruction of an experienced angler is the fastest route to fishing success.

Carolina Boy
09-08-2009, 01:46 PM
Patience is a neccesity when you start chasing fish in the park. When I first started flyfishing I was not aware of tailwaters so I learned how to fish in the park, not the easiest but i wouldn't have iit any other way, I have no idea how many fishless trips I had when I started but it was a lot of weekends. I spent so much more time untangling a mess than actually fishing. But I have never been one to quit, and I am stubborn. Funny thing is at some point it was like a light switch went off and I started having more and more success. I by no means no anything but I think that is the attitude you need to take so you can learn everytime your out there. Before you know it you will be wearin em out! So patience and probably a good idea to stay outta the water as much as you can wear dark clothes and stay low!

09-08-2009, 01:47 PM
Variations in temp and pressure can also affect feeding patterns. I have found that fish tend to strike more readily on a cooler day after a few degrees rise in temperature, than they do on a warm day after the temp drops several degrees. I also tend to look for sunnier runs to fish and seem to do better. I am guessing that part of the reason for more active fishing in the sunlit areas, often has to do with hatches.

I also always tend to start out with a dry/dropper rig to test the waters and see what the fish are leaning toward. I have had fish take nymphs and sub-surface flies when by the conditions it seemed they should be taking dries. I have seen the opposite as well.

I agree with Mr. Casada, especially with his observation that if you become proficient in fishing the park, that you will find it easier if not easy to catch fish elsewhere, his thought, my words.

Hang in there, the reward is well worth the work!


09-08-2009, 04:31 PM
One thing I have had problems with is that a fish will hit or bump the fly without taking it....am I missing the strike because I'm too slow or is the fish just messing with the fly and not really seeing it as food?

I think the answer is that you are close, and have interested the fish, but at the last moment they decided it isn't something they should risk and turn away, causing the bump - without a hookup.

The biggest culprit is usually drag, even in its smallest form. Try to get as much of your line and leader off the water as you possibly can. The slower the water, the harder it is to fool a fish. By minimizing the amount of line you have on the water that will help you with your hookset, as well. Just don't be too aggressive or you'll pull the hook right out of their mouth.

If you are sure that you have a drag free presentation, then you could either go down one size on your fly or change the color somewhat (like going from yellow to lt cahill, or brown to olive).

Just keep after it. You must be close. If the fish weren't interested they wouldn't even inspect the fly

Carolina Boy
09-08-2009, 10:24 PM
Dude when in doubt listen to Mr. Casada!

09-09-2009, 08:34 AM
Thanks for the advice and encouragement.
I really have to work on the drag issue,and also fly size is something I have to learn more about...but drag,well that's going to take some real practice.