When they Tell You “You Can’t” Go and Do it Anyway

March 5, 2012

When they Tell You “You Can’t” Go and Do it Anyway

I figured that with a mild winter and not a whole lot of crazy stuff going on that we'd shake things up a bit and talk about a topic that the Troutfitters crew loves to chat about - fishing a little bit outside of the box... If you are a purist turn away now, and really what the hell were you doing on here in the first place if you're a purist, haha...

One of my personal favorite things to do when I'm out fishing is to buck the conventional wisdom and try things out that people around fishing circles will tell you \"don't ever work.\" One of the best places to do these odd ball things is on places traditionally thought of as \"sacred places\" like Spring Creeks, or famous dry fly fisheries. The other fun thing to do is to try out tactics at different times of year when fishermen will tell you \"that only works during blank time of the year,\" and do exactly the opposite. You'll be surprised at how often things that \"don't work\" actually do, and how often the time of year is irrelevant.

Over the years there's been all sorts of \"conventional wisdom\" that I've put to the test, for instance one of the first things I heard when I really started fishing a lot was that fish on Spring Creeks are very selective and you need gentle presentations with fine tippet sizes and long leaders so that you don't spook the wary fish in gin clear water. For years growing up I floundered around in the creeks trying to make these subtle presentations, fishing only long leaders and small tippets and flies to rising fish with mixed success. At times this approach is extremely effective, and you can certainly make a name for yourself in the fishing world by dissecting rise forms, studying trout behavior in heavily pressured waters and making all sorts of fancy flies and leader formulas for picky fish.

This view of fishing was way too myopic for my tastes. After all, why would fish in Spring Creeks act completely differently then every other fish in the world? Why would they not react like any other animal and chase down prey if presented the option? Why? Well because of conventional wisdom. Too many fishermen over the year's wrote about the difficulty of catching these fish, but all of them were taking the exact same approach, trying to mimic minute food sources in small water to pressured fish. All I could think was why not try something everyone else isn't doing, and so I set about just trying out different techniques on Spring Creek waters in situations that called for something completely different according to the \"How-to Manuals.\"

One of the most memorable times that I tried this buck the trend theory out was probably the better part of a decade ago, and I'm not claiming that I'm the first one to think of this. But, I'm pretty sure I was the only one I knew of fishing the Milesnick's Spring Creek with a 7 weight rod and a type 6 sink tip line with a 8 inch long articulated sculpin pattern in the middle of a blanket PMD hatch. That day I had already tried with varied success matching the hatch and catching fish on spinners, cripples, emergers, soft hackles, floating nymphs and duns and at that point had seen enough fish refuse or ignore my fly that I was sick of trying to match the hatch. So I walked back to my truck, grabbed my big river rod that was all rigged up from fishing the Yellowstone with 15lb test tippet and a giant articulated sculpin and decided I'd slap the water and see what would happen.

The first hole that I came down to and pitched that bug into I pulled out a 22\" brown trout that probably had been feasting on those same size 16 PMD Cripples. Yet when I chugged this large piece of bunny fur through his home, he ate it with such ferocity you would have sworn he was trying to kill it first and eat it later. I chalked it up to dumb luck and went on down to the next bend where there were several fish podded up rising. I put a cast just below where the biggest fish of the bunch was rising and stripped it through as quick as I could and that fish hammered the streamer and tore all over the pool - when I got it to hand I put it on a measuring tape and it was a shade over 23\" and had to be over 5lbs. The manner and expediency with which he forgot all about the PMD's and chased down that streamer changed the way I thought about trout behavior in supposed \"picky\" fishing situations.

One of the recent things I've been wanting to put to the test has been the theory that trout only eat mice during the warmer months of the year, and that they will only eat them late in the day or at night or early mornings. I think that gives too much credit to an animal with a brain the size of a pea that I've watched eat cigar butts during a salmonfly hatch. So the last several years I've gone about fishing some mice patterns in some places at some times of the year where people told me it wouldn't work. The first time I tried this theory out was last March over on the Beaverhead on a marginally overcast day and to my fishing partner's surprise, I whacked around a dozen fish swinging and stripping mice. They chased the pattern down with wreckless abandon, oftentimes jumping out of the water after the foam backed clump of rabbit hair and rubber legs. I've since fished mice on various other bodies of water with mixed success, but one common strand was that time of day didn't seem to matter,

There's been countless other times of the year when I've tried things through the middle of hatches that \"shouldn't have worked\" that ended up working wonders. I've thrown stuff in places where I've been told \"they don't eat those things here\" and caught piles of fish, and big fish too. I've gone out during times of the day or year when people have said \"they won't eat blank at this time of year,\" and had fish chase blank all over the place and eat it with reckless abandon. The point of all of this is when someone tells you \"that won't work\" don't get discouraged, give it a try maybe it will work, maybe it won't. But it's a helluva lot of fun when you're wrecking fish somewhere on something that someone told you wouldn't work than it is to get skunked using everything that everyone told you would work!

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