Top guides and anglers don’t just fish streamers year-round – they catch fish on streamers all year, too. Photo Credit: Ryan Kelly / @greenriverflyfisher
I’m lucky enough to have quite a few fishing guides as friends. It pays off in more ways than free floats in a drift boat (although now that I’m learning to row, I don’t know how “free” those floats are anymore). Even so, I benefit by soaking up all my guide buddies’ knowledge of specific rivers.
One of those rivers is the Green River, which is below Flaming Gorge Dam in northeast Utah. I’ve had the pleasure of fishing with guides from almost all the outfitters up there, including Trout Creek Flies. They’re all top-notch individuals and some of the best guides I know.
And for them, streamer season never stops.
I used to think they fished streamers year-round just for variety’s sake. After all, there are only so many days you can stare at a bobber, hoping trout take the dead-drifted nymphs. Dry flies are much better but far less dependable. Streamers add spice to what can become – for guides, at any rate – a bit of monotony.
Since I’ve started paying attention to my friends’ streamer fishing habits, I’ve noticed they don’t just fish streamers year-round – they catch fish on streamers all year, too.
How is that possible? Consider the following reasons.
Once trout reach a certain size, they tend to eat other fish almost exclusively. If you want to put a trophy in the net, a streamer should be your go-to fly. Photo Credit: Spencer Durrant
If there’s one thing we all love, it’s giant trout. And once trout reach a certain size, they tend to eat other fish almost exclusively. Some folks – even fisheries biologists – say big fish only eat other fish. But that doesn’t explain how my buddy Hyrum caught an 8-pound splake on a glo-bug.
But big fish will always eat a streamer. They may not bite right when you cast, but if you want to put a trophy in the net, a streamer should be your go-to fly.
As a guide, you should know as much about your local waters as possible. With tailwaters like the Green River, water levels fluctuate often, and fish aren’t always in the same place as they were yesterday.
Throwing streamers to good-looking water gives you an idea of where you can consistently find fish – in all conditions. Knowing where fish are and when they’re going to be in a certain place is key to being a good guide. It’s key to being a good angler, too.
Fly fishing for trout is seen as the contemplative man’s sport, an image propped up by the likes of John Gierach, Tom McGuane, and Norman MacLean. Rarely do we look at trout as aggressive, predatory creatures. The prey we imitate to lure trout into our nets are tiny, subtle bugs. No real predator is going to eat that kind of diet, right?
Tell that to all the bears that leave piles of scat dotted with whatever local berries are available on the trail in front of me.
Streamer fishing promotes an appreciation for how aggressive trout are, and how to use that aggression to coax bites when the rest of the flies in your box aren’t working. That’s not to say that trout will always hit a streamer, but the better understanding you have about trout’s aggressive nature, the more you can use that to your advantage.
Streamer flies are dependable, no matter the conditions. Whether the water is high, muddy or somewhere in between, throwing streamers to good-looking water gives you an idea of where you can consistently find fish. Photo Credit: Spencer Durrant
Many anglers I know suffer from what I call “single-rig syndrome.” It’s where they learn to fish local waters with a certain rig. For example, the Lower Provo River near my home in Utah is famous for its “Provo River Bounce Rig.” It’s essentially the same thing I’d rig to dropshot to bass with a spinning rod.
Fishing these rigs all the time restricts the amount of fish you can catch, and where and when you’ll catch them. Adding streamers to your box gives you another option when the ol’ reliable hopper-copper-dropper just isn’t getting the job done.
One thing that surprises me about streamer fishing as I’ve learned more about it over the past few years is just how dependable it is. High water? No problem – just make sure you use a heavier fly. Muddy water? Here’s this chartreuse bugger; it’ll catch fish.
I honestly don’t recall the last time I spent a day fishing just streamers and came home without a fish to my name. That doesn’t mean the fishing’s always hot and heavy, but it’s dependable. That’s about all you can really ask of this sport.
Streamer fishing is my favorite way to fish from a drift boat. There’s no better way to see a river’s quality of trout than by tempting its largest tenants into a ferocious bite. If you’d like a great streamer fishing trip, I can’t recommend the guides at Trout Creek Flies enough. They know their stuff – and you’ll put some great fish in the net
If you’re unable to make a trip to Utah, check out one of these guides. Your next great fish tale might be closer than you think.
Spencer Durrant is a fly fishing writer, outdoors columnist, and novelist from Utah. He’s also the Managing Editor of The Modern Trout Bum and Owner/CEO of Cutthroat Creative Media. His work has appeared in Field & Stream, Hatch Magazine, TROUT Magazine, Sporting Classics Daily, and other national publications. Find him on Twitter/Instagram, @Spencer_Durrant
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