written by Jason
“Trout Hangouts” is an ongoing series in which I highlight one specific element or structure of a river, stream, creek, or lake where trout like to hold and talk about how to approach it. Many fly fishers might know how to fish, but not necessarily where to fish. By dissecting the complicated infrastructures of different types of waters into more focused, manageable pieces, any angler can learn how to read the water and figure out exactly where to cast and apply their skills.
Some streams have large boulders with flat sides or “rock walls” that line the banks. These geographical features can take many shapes but often create good holding areas for trout since they provide shelter from the current, sun, and predators.
Look at the picture above. The green arrows show where I would focus my casts. Let’s look at each area a little more closely.
1. Because of the angle of this particular rock, this is area is an ideal holding spot. It offers slower current, protection from predators, and shade, while still offering a good vantage point for picking up drifting food. We might not often think about fish seeking protection from sun (and it’s not really the sun they are trying to hide from), but sunlight makes the trout visible to predators. Shade helps them hide. Of course, shaded areas will change throughout the day as the Sun moves through they sky. If I were a trout, this would be my preferred hangout (unless a bigger trout bullied me out of it).
2. Still pretending I’m a trout, this would be my second choice. It’s not as good as #1 because it doesn’t offer the shade (right now) and camouflage of #1, but it’s still a pretty good lie. If I couldn’t get #1, I’d take this as the next best thing.
3. Trout will also hang out here, especially if there are multiple fish in the same run and the prime spots are already taken. Fish holding here will often try to flee to #1 if spooked (even if it’s already occupied). But in my experience, the wiser (and sometimes larger fish) will take over area #1, leaving area #3 for the smaller, less educated fish. But it’s still worthy of a few casts.
So, how should you prioritize your casts? I would probably hit #1 first (or #2 if that happens to be the shaded area at that particular time of day). Of course, you run the risk of putting down fish by casting across #3, but as I said, #1 and #2 will probably hold the bigger fish so I’m willing to run that risk. Also, with a long tenkara rod, it’s probably easy to keep the line off the water and not put down any fish in #3.
So the next time you’re out, keep your eyes out for rock walls. And remember that the best holding spots change throughout the day so they might be worth hitting a couple of times a day.