Last Wed I was wading along the far
bank in some riffles and spotted a huge (at least 30
inches) rainbow hanging low between two submerged
rocks. I tossed everything I had at him for about an
hour, drys, midges, nymphs. While I was changing flies this fish takes
a bug a foot in front of me jumps and splashs me clear up to my chest. Scared the **** outta me and I almost dropped the fly. He
was tormenting me. I left him for a while
and came back about half and hour later. He was still
there casually sipping little bugs off the surface from his spot between the rocks. He barely made a ripple when he took the bugs but I could
see his head was about 3 inches wide. Tossed some more
junk at him for another 45 minutes but no luck. Before
I left I called these two Mennenite guys ( you can tell by the beards and hats) down from up river to try they're luck at him and watched them try for him. One of the guys came over to the the bank while the other kept after that fish. The guy fishing called over and said "He's right there."
pointing down to his side just a couple feet away. He
said, "He's this big." holding his arms up three feet
apart. The fish was too close to fish to, so he takes
out his net and tries to net him. His buddy is yelling
from the bank, "If you get him with the net it don't
count." Of course he didn't get him. The fish was
tormenting him too. I guess they don't get that big by
I think your first mistake is you changed flies too often. You should have tried what was on the water that he was feeding on. Then I would try a larger fly of the same kind or a smaller fly of the same kind. He was telling you what he wanted to eat. Next time try this. Spot the fish mentally when he is holding. Pick the best spot possible to get a good drag free float to the fish. Picking the right spot to cast from is very critical. Stop fishing or fish some place else. Return an hour before sunset and try again. Stay as far away as you can. Keep low. Go to the spot you selected earlier. Sneak up on the spot on your knees. Make a cast to your spot with the same flies he was eating.
If this doesn't work come back at night, go to your spot and throw a mouse. You need to practice your cast during daylight so you know what to do when you can't see as well.
If you catch it, savor the moment and then release it.
I had that happen on the Savage River in Western Maryland once. There was no hatch on but I put a fly out, what turned out to be a nice wild 14" brown trout came up, swatted at it and refused it. I eventualy tried another fly, repeat performance, he came up, looked and went back down. This went on for an hour and one half (including a short break for lunch) but he still continued to come up, refuse what I threw and went back down. I finally put on PMD Larson in I think, size 14 and wham, he took it! Persistence paid off but I would not normally stay that long but as long as he'd continue to come up, I'd continue to throw a fly at him until either him or I gave up. Well, he gave in and I didn't.
"I fish because I love to; because I love the environs where trout are found; because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience...because only in the woods can I find solitude without lonliness..." Robert Traver 1964 (Judge John Voelker)
Same thing happened to me today on the Hiawassee, outside Reliance, TN. 20"+ rainbow sitting @ the bottom w/ several 10" rainbows all around. I tried several things on him, but he never moved for atleast an hour & a half. Small ones would come and bite at it, but he refused to leave the bottom (waded in, maybe 4' deep). Sunk a few things across the bottom and basically rolled over him, without him so much as budging. i changed things up, i matched the hatch (spent half an hour on that) & then sent a crayfish fly towards him (played beautifully, i might ad) and nothing. i got a little bummed out when i had to pack it in. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I plan on getting him one of these days...
1. Fish don't eat all the time. It is very possible that he was resting.
2. The best time to try for a big fish is the last hour of daylight or at night. This is not as important in a shaded or protected spot.
3. Sometimes when a fish is not moving or keeps refusing your offering you need to move and change the angle of your presentation.
4. Do some research and find out what aquatic life is in your river. A Fish and Game biologist for your area is the best choice. A local college can be a good source of information. You can also turn over some rocks and see what is there. Once you have a handle on what is in your water, try to duplicate the most prevalent.
5. You may not be getting a drag free presentation. Try one of the strike indicators with a vertical indicator on the top like the Boles. You don't need to use one all the time. You should practice a drag free presentation with one and it will tell you if you are getting a good presentation.
6. Try varying the depth you are fishing. If there is any currant it will change the depth your fly will reach the fish. You may have to add or remove a split shot.
7. You have all ready accomplished the most important aspect of catching a big fish. Knowing where it is holding. The big fish always gets the best feeding spot. It will keep returning and if you catch it or it gets bigger and finds a better spot, another fish will appear. This is why certain spots almost always produce fish unless the water level changes.
It is a mystery that you have to solve. This is one part of fly fishing I really enjoy.
Sounds like you were fishing the gin clear water in Cheesman Canyon! Same thing happened to me when I first started fly fishing in the early 80's. Those fish are pretty sophisticated, they get hammered pretty good! I think Frank has offered some very good suggestions.
Yes he has. Frank mentioned a number of things I didn't do. When I first saw the fish he was just sipping little bugs off the water. I wasn't able to get close enough to see what he was eating, cause I didn't want to spook em. I know they were tiny morsels, so first thing I floated by him (on a perfect, if I do say so) downstream drift, was a size 24 cream colored midge dry. I could see some in the air. He rose up real close to the surface, turned sideways a little, looked at it and dropped back down. My heart was in my throat when he started rising. Then tried a 24 Griffiths Knat. He did the same thing. That was the closest I got to any action out of him