Thanks for bringing back this thread. I'd forgotten it, but not the intent. Next weekend I'm hoping to hit Delany Buttes north lake for a camping/fishing trip. The plan includes throwing some mouse flies along the shore in the night.
I've also got tentative plans for a night trip to the Dream Stream this summer to try some night fishing in a couple of those "dead pools" with the deep undercut banks that I know of.
I'll keep you all informed as to the outcome.
this principle can be applied to locating a lot of different game animals. i first learned this lesson from my deer hunting mentor in my early teens. can't figure out why i keep forgetting it. isn't that weird?
yes, what we call true "trophy" fish (or deer, etc.) become dominant and get territorial. other critters learn to give them a wide berth. and that can be a good clue to their presence when everything else is telling you there should be some good fish in a spot.
there's a little stream they call the rio penasco out here in the desert. when i first saw this ditch (it was about 2' wide when it came into view from the road), my new fishing buddy asked me what i thought. i tried to be diplomatic but made a comment about it being pretty small. he replied, "out here we get pretty excited about anything that has running water in it yearround."
where this little stream tumbles out of the sacramento mountains east of cloudcroft, nm, you would not think it was fishable. it really does look like a runoff ditch. but due to the geology, the stream twists and turns and plunges to the point where it has dug out cut-bank pools and plunge pools that are not visible from above ground. and when you find a hole in this little river with no little trout or baitfish in it, you toss a streamer up against the bank or into the foam at the head of a pool and get ready. but most people who even bother to fish this part of the river (which is very few) just pass on by and continue to believe there are only a few tiny trout this far upstream.
but there's another aspect of this same principle, too. and sam walton (walmart founder) listed it as one of his secrets to success in business when he wrote his book. he said, "when you come to an intersection, watch to see which way everyone else is turning. if most are turning right, turn left." these same trophy game animals are going to avoid human contact and exposure to predators as much as possible. so if you want to find them, fish where the fishermen ain't and hunt where the hunters aren't.
to illustrate my last point, i'll recount a little experience i had once upon a time...
i was fishing rim shoals on the white river in northern arkansas. i had a helluva day going. i'll bet i had brought 30-40 trout to hand already, including a couple over 20". i'd probably been fishing about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. the rainbows and some browns were stacked into a large hole above the second shoal like cord wood and just couldn't resist a dead drifted red fox squirrel nymph - a fact that the dozen or three other anglers who were also fishing there had not clued in to in spite of my rip-roaring good time. when i say "huge hole," i at least the size of a basketball court, too. so i wasn't worried about sharing it with a few other fishermen at a time. and they weren't worried about it, either. they were catching a few now and then, but i was catching fish on almost every cast. the water was so clear and the rocks surrounding the hole high enough out of the water that i could stand there and sight-fish - picking out which fish i wanted to cast to with a nymph. so i was hauling out the biggest ones, too.
but eventually i had pretty much played the sport out of that entire hole and went wandering upstream looking for something else to do. there sure were a lot of anglers out. and the water was running pretty low. now the white is one of those "big rivers" the guys above were talking about. at rim shoals, it's about 200 yds wide or so. but with the water this low, you could pick your way all the way across in places along the shoals and the shallow water boaters had to know their way through or they were going to get out and walk. there was really only one navigable channel for any sort of boat: canoe, kayak, or otherwise. but the current...even though usually no more than knee deep...is swift. and wading cross-current or upstream can wear a man out pretty quickly. so most anglers were lined up along the deeper cuts near the banks and right along the tops of the shoals where one could cross the river. about half way between the lower shoal i had been fishing and the upper shoal (a distance of probably a half mile total), i noticed a deep pool surrounded by emerging boulders waaaaaaay out in the middle of this shallow fast-running no-man's land. i stopped and stared at it for a minute and thought to myself, "self, that's where i would be hiding if i were a big brown trout!" i stood there on the bank and had a good drink of gatorade, smoked a marlboro, and got my legs gathered back together completely. i knew this was going to be a tough wade. i also knew i could do it if i took my time...no risk, just patience. but something told me the odds were good that it would pay off. and then i started out across this 150 yard or so cross-current trek through knee-deep bowling-ball sized gravel bottom no-man's land.
it really did seem like it took me an hour to get there. several people stood and stared at me from the distance for quite awhile. i'm sure they were thinking, "look at that crazy tourist! he doesn't even know where to cross the river!" when i got where i was going, i stood there for awhile and watched the water, scoped out the best casting vantage points, watched how the current worked its way through the boulders, tried to get a feel for how deep it might be (because i couldn't even see the bottom here), and caught my breath and steadied my legs again. i adjusted my indicator and added some split-shot. this was going to be tricky due to eddies and having to cast over a secondary outcropping of rock to get into the main hole from the closest place i could stand without being swept away by the current. it was almost a high-sticking situation where i would have removed the indicator, but not quite. i needed the angle it would give me.
it was a short cast almost directly upstream that the current would sweep quartering away and then bring down past me in a dog-leg fashion. so i had to keep the line off the water as best i could. as soon as the fly hit what i had judged to be the sweet spot in the hole on that first cast, the indicator disappeared sharply and completely and i raised the rod tip to that old familiar feel of a solid set and a shaking body. it was a good fish, but he didn't want to leave the deep hole for shallower water downstream. all things considered, i agreed with him. when i finally landed that fish, it was a thick male brown trout that taped 22". this wasn't the bruiser i expected to find in this lie, but it was a very good fish just the same. and in this slot he had given me a very good fight in close quarters on a 5wt.
all the same, i decided to give the hole another shot. this time, the indicator was almost to the back of the hole and i had already decided it was a fruitless drift when that tiny bobber sharply disappeared again! i lifted the rod tip high to compensate for the bit of extra slack i had allowed to creep into the line there at the end and everything went tight. but it was moving, so i knew it was a fish and not a boulder. this fish played similarly to the first, but it was much harder to keep in the pool and out of the faster and shallower water. i was stuck where i was standing. if the fish took a big long run in that fast, shallow water there was no way i could chase it downstream. in fact, i didn't know if i could even turn downstream without taking a bath!
i fought this fish for over 20 minutes. i got a good look at her flanks twice. i knew she was a hawg. but i dared not guess how big she really was. i had my mind full trying to balance myself on that boulder and keep her under control. at the periphery of my consciousness, i could hear people hollering "he's got another one!" and such things off in the distance. finally, the big brown tuckered out from the fight just before i did. and i eased her over to my knees. she was fat, strong, and beautiful; and measured 27" long. i had no problem getting her revived and i let her swim away back into the depths of that limestone green hole from whence she came. as i straightened up and looked around for the first time since my arrival at this spot, i noticed about a dozen fishermen standing as close as they could get without having to do any treacherous wading. they all began to clap and congratulate me. a teenage boy with his father shouted out, "what did you catch that fish on?"
i hollered back, "red fox squirrel nymph!" and i heard him turn to the older fella he was with and say, "figures!"
i knew the day was over right then and there. i think every real fly fisherman knows you can't top a moment like that and the only thing to do at that point is quit. besides, i had another hard wade ahead of me to get out.
Great topic Ard, I like Fish' analogy about large streams also. I get most of my big Browns; nothing like the pic yet, fishing at night. When the Brown Drakes start here on through Hex time. If I'm lucky, I get bugs hitting the water; if I'm not the mice come out... I love fishing at night, but you do have to scout your water. I have a couple of spots that appear to be devoid of trout, it all changes when the sun goes down.