Doubters Strike Back at Grip and Kill Article

Trout dying to get a good photo?

My Grip and Kill (GAK) article received a huge amount of support from the fishing community. Links to the article reached many hundreds and is still growing. Many out-takes from the article were, and are still, being published by a large number of sites, big and small. The article has been published, (by permission), in a great many fishing club newsletters, etc.

The GAK page blew my site bandwidth cap out the window, and if it was not for a friend in the business mirroring the page, I would have had to shut the site down for a while. Even today, the page receives over 200 – 250 unique visits, every day.

But of course, being on the Internet, GAK attracted a significant group of nay-sayers and doubters.

So I have written answers to the more rational doubts and this is in the side-bar of the original article.

Five New Fishing Quotations And Sayings – 23 May 2015

Five more fishing quotations and sayings hooked out of the river of words devoted to the sport we love. Total quotes now 1245, see them all here.

“Everybody should be quiet near a little stream and listen.” (1241)

“Everyone gets hung up in trees or stream-side brush.  Everyone.  Fly fishers who tell you different are either lying or never fish in those tricky places where the best fish lurk.” – Tom Rosenbauer (1242)

“I’d still consider them my favorite angling destinations. Elements contributing to a quality location are highly personal but, for me, mountains and wildness are essential. I like areas where humans vie with wolves and grizzlies for apex predator status. Places where logging hasn’t beaten back nature, where urbanity is nonexistent, and where rivers flow only through rocks, not concrete dams.” – Photographer Adam Tavender (1243)

“Even if you can’t cast very far, you can still catch a lot of fish, writes Chad Shmukler. “The anglers on the stream that aren’t throwing line farther than they need to are often the ones catching the most fish.”” – Chad Shmukler In a recent article on Hatch Magazine (1244)

“It is just as well to remember that angling is only a recreation, not a profession.  We usually find that men of the greatest experience are the most liberal and least dogmatic.” – Theodore Gordon (1245)

Nymphing: Get Even More Hook-ups

Hatch Magazine has a nice little article on allowing the nymph to swing at the end of a drift before picking it up for a re-cast. It is a tactic I have used for many years and have had great success with it.

“…The beginner nymph fisherman dutifully focuses on drag, drifting the fly through the water as long as he or she can prevent drag from setting in by mending the line, following the fly with the rod tip and so on. Once that battle is lost, and the fly starts to drag, most anglers will immediately lift the rod and recast. Instead, try this: once drag sets in, let the fly continue to drift downstream while stopping the line, allowing it to come tight. The nymph will swing around…”

Really worthwhile read.

Last second thought: Using nymphs with soft hackles (flymphs) or rubber legs  makes this technique even more successful.

Securely handling trout without causing stress or damage

An article I did on ‘Grip and Kill’. how not to hold a fish for photographs went mini viral. Got me thinking that one thing I left out of that piece was how to hold a fish by the tail securely but without damage to the fish.

Well there is already a fantastic article on my site by Tony Entwistle that explains just how to get a good grip on a fish’s tail. It is important because a good tail grip means the pectoral area does not have to be held in a vice like grip.

And here it is:

 Securely handling trout without causing stress or damage

One of New Zealand’s best known guides, Tony Entwhistle, writing in the New Zealand Fish & Game Magazine, has one of the best descriptions I have read on the proper handling of a trout.

Securely handling a trout without causing stress or damage is a matter of a gentle touch, not a tight grip.

To pacify a landed trout, simply place a hand vertically in front of its nose to prevent it  from swimming  forward and fold the palm to cover both eyes. This acts as a mask and immediately calms it down. Trout relax quickly when their eyes are covered.

Next grasp the fish’s tail with the other hand, without excessive force. Some anglers use a piece of stocking for grip, but with good technique this isn’t necessary. Securing a trout needs only gentle pressure between the thumb and forefinger, applied directly over the base of the tail, applied where it joins the body (hypural joint).

Apply pressure top and bottom through the first joints of the forefinger and thumb, rather than along the sides. The mistake is grasping the tail too far forward and using too much hand in doing so. Squeezing hard does not help as the fish slips more easily.

Now test the grip by lifting the fish slightly by the tail, keeping the other hand over the eyes for the moment. If the grip is secure the trout will not slip, but if it does resist grabbing at it with both hands. By quickly slipping a hand in front of the nose, and covering the eyes again, a lot more fish will be saved from premature release.

With a positive grip on the tail it is now possible to begin lifting the trout safely for a photograph or release.

Avoid squeezing the fish around the soft belly area behind the pectoral fins because this causes discomfort and can potentially cause serious damage to internal organs. Instead slide the free hand under the pectoral fins, orientating the hand so that the trout’s head rests along the index finger, with the pectoral fins spread out between thumb and little finger.

The trout will be nicely balanced and the soft tissue in the belly area will no be supporting any weight. Lifting the trout this way, and returning it to the water between photographs minimizes any distress which could reignite its struggles. Turn the fish belly up when removing the hook.

Handle trout gently and with respect and they won’t panic or stress, ensuring their revival for release without damage and a minimum of fuss.”

© Reproduced by permission – ‘New Zealand Fish and Game Magazine’

Catching Big Brown Trout in New Zealand

When does chasing big brown trout become an obsession?

I try to get down to the Taupo region on the central North island of New Zealand in March. As autumn starts to bite, brown trout move into the rivers and streams from Lake Taupo to head upstream to spawn. It is usually a reasonably sedate meander, not like the mad dash of pods of rainbows that tend to move up somewhat later.

Usually rivers and streams in March are low and clear, but this does not seem to deter brown trout. Mostly they move at night, spending the day hugging the bottom of deeper water, or tucked in under overhanging, undercut banks. Some hold deep in the branches of fallen trees – untouchable.

This year things were different. A vicious drought affecting the North Island and beyond turned the land from the famed New Zealand green to a drab lifeless brown. Driving down from Auckland I had never seen the countryside so devoid of grass. The sun literally sucking the life out of the land and waterways.

When I reached the Tauranga-Taupo River (TT), I could see the effect of the drought. The river was now a creek, very low and clear. Despite this Steve Yerex, guide and operator of the Keruru Lodge, where I regularly stay, was reasonably upbeat. Browns were in the river in some numbers he reported over the phone, but he suggested that it might take some high level of skill and more than a big helping of luck to pry one or two out of the TT.

Steve was going to be away for a couple of days raft fishing down the Mohaka River, leaving me on my own at the lodge – I liked that.

Arriving late afternoon, I decided to wander a little way downstream with my Tenkara rod and see if I could annoy a few small rainbows which by now were moving downstream to the lake. Over the next hour and a bit, more than a score of fish around 6 to 10 inches were plucked from the shallow runs. Great fun.

Next morning and now in serious fish-hunting mode I headed slowly upstream, peering intently into every pool and undercut bank. The browns were there. Some brutes among them too. Serious brutes. Brutes that have tempted and tormented me for too many years to recall.

Full Story here

Fly casting can often be improved by slowing down and casting easier

Very good article on casting technique on Gink & Gasoline site:

Read the title of this post and try to live by it. It’s my attempt in “one sentence”, to help fly anglers quickly improve their fly casting, and it’s made me twice fly caster and fisherman I am today. There’s lots more to fly casting than slowing down and casting easier, but if anglers focus on doing both together, they often will find that it can greatly improve their overall technique and control. Ask any professional sports athlete how they maximize their performance and potential, and almost all will reply with excellent technique. It’s no different in fly casting. If you want your fly casting to reach its full potential, you have to first build a strong foundation of fly casting mechanics and principles that you can consistently live by on the water. I’ve found personally that when I take the time to slow down and cast the fly rod with less power, it’s much easier for me to focus on the most important element of my fly casting, my technique… [read full article] (Link fixed)

Fishing Minus the Hero Shots

Kirk Deeter from Field and Stream and Midcurrent is one of the better fishing writers, so I found this article about using ‘grip and grin’ shots to bolster a weak story very helpful to budding writers.

Especially those who want to break out of the morass of bland rubbish writing supported by same-old-same-old-pictures, and instead deliver words that make pictures in the readers mind.

Money line:

“You see, I’m not a grip ‘n grin man.  I prefer to fish from the shadows, and stay in the shadows, even after I land something big.  I have a face that’s made for radio, and a passion for fly fishing that’s rooted somewhere that can’t be captured, no matter how many megapixels are devoted to it.”

Read full article here.

Unexpectedly Great Fishing: Again!

A couple of my previous articles, ‘Expect the Unexpected’ and ‘No Great Expectations’, were based on the sometimes fabulous fishing that seems to pop-up out of nowhere.

I have just had five days of truly unexpected and exceptional fishing.apr5rainbow2

Like other trips like this, it all started out pretty much as usual. I was going down to the Taupo region of the central North Island of New Zealand, for what I hoped would coincide with the start of annual run of brown trout into the rivers and streams that flow into Lake Taupo.

I arrived to weather that was also pretty much as expected for autumn, clear skies, (maybe too clear) and a hint of a chill in the air. The main river I was going to fish, the Tauranga-Taupo, was low and very clear, again, maybe too clear. So, I was not expecting great fishing.

The next morning I set off up the river, and found there was no one else on the river where I was fishing. Big plus tick for that.

I also noticed lots of fish in the river. Well, to be truthful, for the first hour or two, most noticed me about one second before I noticed them fleeing to wherever it is where trout go when they notice fishermen.

But soon enough I shook off the city cloak of unawareness, and began to notice fish before they noticed me, and fling a fly at them. Sometimes they liked the fly and bit it, other times they treated the fly with utter disdain, and after repeated casts slowly moved off to that secret trout place.

Now, you may remember I was down at Taupo to catch browns, but I never saw one, but rainbows where there in big numbers.

Big numbers of rainbows was encouraging, but what was even more encouraging and unexpected was the size of the fish. In recent years the average size of Taupo area rainbows has been in decline, to the point where any fish over three pounds was considered a good catch.

Recent reports however suggested that the average rainbow size and condition coming up to spawning was well up on recent years.

The reports were spot on. That first day I caught and released 16 or 17 fish, not one of which was less than 3lb. Most were over a pound or two over that weight, a couple may have been even bigger.

The fish were in wonderful condition, deep and round, fat as butter, and fought long and hard… [full story]

(Terrible photo I know – but left my camera at home – and my phone camera is, well you can see.)