I was going to post a similar thread but decided to do a search first.
I am really surprised at how many people don't enjoy the challenges of stillwater. Of course I love rivers and streams. Having said that, I'd be willing to bet that many of you that don't like stillwater fishing are intimidated by the seemingly randomness of open water.
Just like rivers and streams, stillwaters provide pockets where the big, bad boys hang out. In a river and stream, the feeding alleys, the shelters, and the prime lies (both feeding and shelter) are usually clearly defined. It is pretty easy to read compared to stillwater.
In stillwater, you have to adapt to the season, but there are definite areas where the fish concentrate. Just to give you an example (other than ice-out, which everyone already knows about), during the colder months there is usually a strata of water that is below the surface that stays insulated from the cold air and wind. This strata is not so deep that it doesn't get sunlight. If you fish too deep, the water gets less sunlight, less photosynthesis, which means less oxygen and bugs. Sometimes the seam can be four or five feet in depth, sometimes it can be as narrow as a foot or less. Using an intermediate sinking line with a relatively slow sink rate and an appropriate stripping technique for the fly you are using can result in some of the biggest and funnest fish you've experienced.
For those of you that have read Denny Rickards books, I know I am pretty much regurgitating what he wrote, but I can add my testimonial to it. Stillwater gets a bad rap and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that people get comfortable/skillful with rivers and streams and are content to not take it any farther.
I've never been spooled in a river. I've been spooled at Henry's Lake and there was not a darn thing I could do about it. I might as well of hooked into a 30' bayliner, I set the hook on a black maribou leach pattern and that was all she wrote. That fish never even surfaced to give me a look at what it was. I hooked it in shin deep water, I saw a wake for the first ten yards as it was headed out to sea (so to speak). That fish stripped off 75 feet of fly line, 225 yards of backing and never even collected $200.00 as it passed Go. I still lament using 3X tippet on that lake to this day. I never knew what it meant to 'bow to a rise' until I got into some good stillwater action as well.
Come to think of it, I've only ever gotten into my backing on a river once. That was at the San Juan when I tricked an overweight, 2' rainbow into a tug-of-war.
I love rivers and streams, but stillwater has so many redeeming qualities about it that it is naive to dismiss it as, "That looks like it just sucks".
I hope my post doesn't come across as harsh, I am just honestly surprised that there aren't more stillwater affectionados out there. Maybe the stillwater freaks are content to let the moving water guys post misconceptions to keep the crowds away.
On second thought, I agree that stillwaters suck.