Lake "Theories" ???

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by Drifter, Oct 4, 2012.

  1. Drifter

    Drifter Active Member

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    I have had a thought in my head for awhile now about theories and lake fishing!

    Fishing almost all lakes for the last two years I have had to come up with many new theories - different from rivers maybe this is why I love the lake game so much now is the fact that everything is a new challenge!

    In rivers we have back eddies, riffles, chops, runs, tail -outs, and the such. now in lakes it's a flat non moving piece of water that can be huge and show nothing to the eye as far as where the fish might be holding or living until we "learn" how to read "lakes" this for me has taken many "theories" to have to test and learn from catching fish and not catching fish. I am going to a lake this next week that I fished last spring and did very well at, but now where I fished is only about one foot deep and the creek channel I found large fish in is somewhat high and dry! so now before I even leave I have to come up with theories as to where the fish are and how they will be feeding beings the lake is down at least 10 feet from when I last fished it.

    I have found when fishing with some new fly fishers I fish with that they are always asking good questions and most times I come up with just "theories" not "fact" until proven! My favorite saying now days is "THAT'S MY THEORY AND I'M STICKING WITH IT UNTIL PROVEN WRONG" I have a friend that has fished the lake I'm am heading too the last few weeks, he calls and gives me reports then WE EXCHANGE THEORIES on why the fish are where they are at and what might be changed to do better.

    I guess what I need to ask is how much of your fishing is "THEORY" and how much is "FACT" because it seems ALOT of my fishing is done by theory FIRST which can be a guessing game!

    Another question would be is a person that is prone to "DREAMING" OR "FANTASY" be better at this "GAME"

    Maybe some of us can share some of our "theories" about lake fishing and compare thoughts because I have alot of them - I must be a dreamer or live in a fantasy world i guess!

    What do you think about theories?

    Knowing how much the fish loved my bloody Mary fly this spring my "THEORY" is that this new fly I tied up, a two toned black-n-red nymph will catch any fish that swims within 10 feet of it next week
    "THAT'S MY THEORY AND I'M STICKING WITH IT UNTIL PROVEN WRONG"
    black n red nymph 004.jpg
     
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  2. Irafly

    Irafly Active Member

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    i think while I'm on the water that creating theories is about all I do. I'm constantly creating an underwater image of what I believe to be happening. My last outing found me keeping on a fly even though throat samples indicated that the fish were eating something different. My theory was they were eating what they were eating, because that's what was available, but when something else became present they ate it as well as long as you were in the right zone in the water column, and the but was moving natural (not trolled).

    So if it looks like food fish will eat it, after al, the first time they saw a leech they didn't know it was food until they ate it.

    Ira..
     
  3. Nick Clayton

    Nick Clayton Active Member

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    Myself, I tend to come up with my best theories the night before or after a trip. When I'm daydreaming about fishing I tend to go into analytical mode and can convince myself I'm smarter than the average bear.

    My problem comes in when I'm actually on the water. I tend to get such tunnel vision and forget to implement all of my great previously developed theories.
     
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  4. Drifter

    Drifter Active Member

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    Ira -you touched on one of my theories with your post. I have found that during an awesome hatch sometimes using that fly to match it fails because there are just to many naturals present. many times a bigger completely different color catches many more fish as long as it looks like food. I have also found larger rainbows will eat larger food sources that they know but might not be present during the awesome other hatch until they see your big juicy pattern. I can almost call this fact but will leave it at theory for now!

    Another thought of mine is that speed trolling triggers more strikes from large fish. going slow allows to much time for them to "check it out" when speed trolling it is more reaction then anything else but this is just my theory and it seems to work more often then not.

    I have found the only hatch that demands matching are those huge chironomid hatches, when they get targeted on those it is hard to pull them to something else - at least for me it is.
     
  5. bakerite

    bakerite Active Member

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    Those new bugs look good Mark. I agree with what your saying. I had a fishing partner years ago that always had a different take than I did. Between the two of us we almost always would figure out the puzzle of the day. Here is a theory to chew on.....when those big hatches are happening, I would think that maybe the other predators besides the trout might tie on the feedbag too. It could be shiners are other bait-fish or even dragonfly nymphs. That might explain why fishing a big nymph or streamer would work at those times. I want to learn all the lakes over here too. I've got a good start on Pilcher and you gave me a great lesson on Thief this Spring.
    How many of you have figured out the pattern for the day and then got bored with catching and tried a plan B to see if you could catch fish some other way, or find bigger ones?
     
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  6. troutpocket

    troutpocket Active Member

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    I tend to get on a theory kick after a tough day when I don't "break the code". I'll try to puzzle out missed signs and opportunities for months. What didn't I try? Why didn't I keep moving? What hatch did I miss? I think those are the days that really expand my perspective and give me ideas about what to try the next go round. Of course, the best days are when I struggle first and then figure it out before I leave the water :)

    Tying my own bugs is another time I'm putting together fishing theories. Always tweaking materials, proportions, colors, sizes. Thinking about what was in the throat samples vs what I caught 'em on. Looking for new materials to "improve" my standby patterns. Yup, lake fishin' is all about the theories . . .and I'd say there are exceptions to every rule (or fact)!
     
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  7. Drifter

    Drifter Active Member

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    That is a great point I never thought about Bakerite! Well they are all good points. baker I will leave good fishing always to find the upper class fish. it's what I travel so far for and consider the biggest in the lake the grand prize so often leave good fishing to just target the upper year class fish.
     
  8. troutpocket

    troutpocket Active Member

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    Depends. If I'm out for a day trip, probably not. But if I'm on a 3-4 day trip, certainly.
     
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  9. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

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    My theory is that current is often overlooked when lake fishing and can greating increase your fishing success. Lots of folks assume that lakes have no current, but they do. Current can be caused by a number of things, creeks and rivers flowing in, old river channels, springs and wind.
    Large reservoirs generally have a good size river flowing into them. As the water levels drop in the summer, you'll see the old river channel that has been exposed. As the water level begins to fill back from fall rains or spring run-off, I believe current travels a good distance out into the lake via the old channel. Even smaller creeks can create a good current quite a distance offshore. Fish are attracted to that current and I've had some good days fishing just were I think the creek current is ending.

    Springs are another source of current. I've fished a few lakes over the years were the springs weren't evident based on the water depth, but the fish seem to concentrate around them. Lots of times you'll meet old timers fishing at lakes and they'll mentions springs. If they do, try to find out were they are.
    I've been fortunate enough to fish one lake that has springs that you can actually see. They are in 5-8' of water. You can see the bottom material percolate as the water gurgles out of the bottom. Material floating by gets moved around by the current. On this lake, fish gravitate towards the current and cooler spring water.

    Lastly is wind. This is more of a surface current, but you can still use it to your benefit. I've had days where fishing chironomids with the straight, down wind cast hasn't really produce. By changing my cast to 90 degree off to the side of the boat and getting a wind drift on the surface current, my success rate increased.
    That same wind surface current can really turn the fish on the downwind side of the lake as food sources get blown in that direction. I always have a lot more confidence fishing when I have a wind chop.

    SF
     
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  10. troutpocket

    troutpocket Active Member

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    A theory regarding depth: trout get less selective the deeper they feed. I've been experimenting with full sink line vertical presentation more this year in water >20' deep. I always fish a pair of flies spaced 2-3' apart. I generally catch fish on both bugs when I'm fishing deep water and pattern doesn't really matter (Ira's theory: if it looks like food . . .). However, when I'm fishing with a floating line and indicator in water 5-18' deep, again with a pair of flies, one or the other is usually preferred. Could be because the upper or lower bug is "in the zone" where feeding is happening . . .or the fish are more keyed into a single food source at shallow to mid-depths.

    The trick, of course, is finding that deep bite. I've heard about fishing deep chironomids for years but this is the first year I've really given it an effort. Electronics really help!
     
  11. Nick Clayton

    Nick Clayton Active Member

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    Very good information here. I've read a lot about how current/wind can affect things on a lake.

    SF, on a side note, I should have introduced myself at the MA 9 beach Saturday morning. I am always appreciative of your informative posts, and I wish I would have said Hi.


    Nick
     
  12. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

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    Nick,
    I'm sorry I didn't introduce myself as well.
    SF
     
  13. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

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    I like hearing other anglers' theories. As for my own, once I have enough evidence to formulate a theory, everything seems to change and my theory becomes so much bunk, and therefore is history.

    So I usually leave whatever sub-surface fly that is working on my lake rig when I break my rod down (fully rigged) at the end of the day, hoping that the same pattern will work the next time. I think I fished the same fly all Spring one year, only breaking it off to retie due to concern about the integrity of my tippet. It worked great every time, in any of the three lakes that I fished that Spring, so I wasn't motivated to change it. (Was a #10 Halloween bugger tied with black saddle hackle and black marabou tail). I might have filed the hook point once or twice, too. I fished it off the same clear intermediate line.

    I trolled it when moving about the lake. I anchored along dropoffs and cast out to the deep, or along the edges. I cast it to the shoreline weeds. When I was too lazy to swap over to my dry line setup, I cast to risers and stripped it back at various speeds and retrieves, and got strikes. I trolled it slowly along the deep creek channel running through the middle of one of the lakes (that is an impoundment). The stocker 'bows and the native cutts all liked that fly. I caught my biggest trout ever in a lake on that fly (10# hatchery pig).
    Then one afternoon up at Nahwatzel Lake, it was drawing a complete blank, even at my favorite location on the lake. I thought that I finally might have to change patterns or alter my technique. Also, after all the trout it had fooled, the fly had been chewed down to a mere suggestion of its former self, and that was adding to my feelings of doubt. I couldn't see any evidence of a hatch going off or having occurred, and only the rare trout was rising. Couldn't find any trout by trolling. Nothing seemed to be in my favorite reliable spots to anchor and cast. Couldn't raise any interest from the submerged logs or brushy shoreline. It was as if the trout all got lockjawed and went into hiding.
    I started switching patterns. Olive Furry Dragon nymph didn't work. Tied on a small dropper nymph about 10" behind that. No luck. Still saw no rise rings on the lake, so I didn't try dries. I never did figure it out, and I ended up feeling fortunate about the one tentative nudge that I thought I might have felt. Or was it just the bottom? Maybe I just got there too late in the day.

    Anyway, that ended the one fly marathon. That pattern is still one of my favorite exploratory patterns in lakes. though.
     
  14. mtskibum16

    mtskibum16 Active Member

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    I have very little lake experience, but almost all of my good days have been when I've used surface current and chop to my advantage by looking at it the same as I would current in a river. Fishing the "downstream" side of points in the current seam, the downwind end of the lake (as SF said), using the chop to give a nymph action, etc. My other success has been mostly from fishing the other types of current SF mentioned (inlet current affected zone, springs). There's also lake turnover and later in the summer when temps are more constant, I've read that the lake can "roll" from the wind current. As in you have surface current flowing one way, while the bottom current flows the other way as the entire lake rolls over. I have no personal experience/observations with this however.

    Good topic. I am very interested in learning about and spending more time fishing lakes since they are so prevalent around here.
     
  15. Vladimir Steblina

    Vladimir Steblina Retired Forester...now fishing instead of working

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    I always try and not over think when fishing.

    Compare the size of your brain to that of a "hatchery" rainbow trout.

    Now do you really want to admit you LOST.
     
  16. Nick Clayton

    Nick Clayton Active Member

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    That is a good point. Funny how when when I find myself deep in concentration, fishing as "technical" as I can manage, the fish have a way of reminding me that at the end of the day its just fishing, they are just fish, and I have no idea what I'm doing.

    Like when I'm carefully fishing a size 16 mid just off the bottom, with the perfect black and red color, on a 15' leader of hair like fluorocarbon, and the fish try to eat my shiny green indicator.
     
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  17. Jim Wallace

    Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

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    All theories considered, I have much better luck figuring out a lake with the aid of my portable sonar unit. It lets me "see" the bottom contours and structure.
    I have found holes, dropoffs, rises, and the deeper spots in lakes, as well as creek channels running in from the sides and the old submerged main stem going through the middle of reservoirs or impoundments.
    I would not want to have to try to figure out a new lake without my sonar, as it provides so much valuable info.
     
  18. bakerite

    bakerite Active Member

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    I totally agree with you about the portable sonar Jim. I got one this year because I fish a lot of large reservoirs over here and it makes all the difference. My home water is now less than half the size it was this Spring and is constantly changing. It is also full of fish that were planted in late May and have now grown to 8 to 10 inches. The larger fish are in the prime habitat where most of the food is and the 35,000 little guys are everywhere else (some places they seem to be mixed). Yesterday I found a pod of nice fish in a back bay in 5 to 8 feet of water. They weren't in the shallow water (3 ospreys and 2 eagles) and they weren't out of the bay in the 10 to 15 foot deep water (where they were a couple of weeks ago when the water was warmer). The sonar really helps keep you in the zone on these large lakes. BTW pattern is not making a huge difference now. The fish are aggressive and the cool water has them really filling up for Winter, so I'm just leaving the same fly on my rod at this lake.
     
  19. Nick Clayton

    Nick Clayton Active Member

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    I'm far from an expert, but as I spend more and more time focusing on stillwater I find myself coming up with my own theories on why things work the way they do. I tend to be a big believer in finding the fish, finding the right depth, and then to a lesser degree focusing on fly profile- Often times I will find myself catching just as many fish as those around me who are matching the hatch, so to speak, while I'll be throwing my go to leach pattern at the same fish with great success. I tend to focus more on finding fish, and finding the depth that they are keyed in on. After that, I generally find players and don't have to get too darn crazy with fly selection
     
  20. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    I have one overarching theory about fishing Stillwater - It's a LOT harder than fishing moving water. Unlike moving water where the spots that fish hold are pretty obvious and consistent from stream to stream, lakes are largely featureless and thus offer no immediately obvious suggestions about where fish might be concentrated, what they might be feeding on, or whether there's even fish there at all. That combined with the necessity of having a floatation device of some kind keeps a lot of fishermen away from lakes - which is just fine with me. Personally I love the challenge of fishing a new lake, figuring out where the fish are and how to tempt them. It's a sort of giant puzzle to solve and the prize is a wiggle on the end of my rod.

    K
     

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