By: Joseph Bartholomew
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Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of catching a bunch of new species of fish. Many of them were on my bucket list fish that I finally struck off my list. One thing that virtually all fly fishermen have in common is the love of something new, so here are some tips to get that fish that’s eluded you thus far off your list.
Find out more about the species: This is probably the best piece of advice I can give, whether you’re on the wiki page finding out about diet, or reading about a trip to x lake in Argentina going after x fish. Any information you can get is more that you can draw upon in the field.
Find out where they’re going to be, and when they’re going to be there: This goes along with finding out about the fish. But, if your fishing for a migratory species at the wrong time of year, you probably aren’t going to catch that fish. Additionally, if you are fishing the wrong area, you probably aren’t going to catch that fish either. The best way to go about this is finding out typical feeding habits and spawning activities (i.e. fishing for bass in shallow beds when spawning and targeting them on rock piles when they’re keyed in on craws).
Find a contact that knows the fish: This very well may be the most helpful source for specific information. Over the summer, I had the opportunity to go after sturgeon on the fly. A simple google search won’t yield much information on something that specific, barring a few pictures. Anyway, I found someone very successful at that particular feat and began asking him questions. I found out a ton! That information led to not only scratching that fish off my bucket list but doing it on the fly.
Brush up on your Facebook/Instagram stalking: Yup! This is quite important, the contact I had for the sturgeon came from a simple search in a Facebook group. But other species have come from even more detailed stalking. Looking up hashtags, looking through people’s profiles, looking at the background of fish pictures, looking for particular patterns hanging out of the mouth along with any other information you can find will be very beneficial. Doing this also led to me catching my first Arctic Grayling. I found a reservoir from a bit of stalking, found out who fished it well, asked for specific advice on that piece of water, took the trip and caught a bunch of small Grayling.
Work, work, work: Nothing else will boost your chances of catching that fish as much as just putting in the time to catch these fish. A lot of times, it comes in the most unexpected ways. My first walleye came months after the prime time for catching them, miles away from where they “should” have been. I had put in the work a long time before to try to catch these fish. I had spent countless fruitless hours trying to catch these fish during the “best” time of year to catch them. One day, I walked out to one of my favorite spots, spot a fish that I assume is a sucker, but throw my streamer at it anyway. The “sucker” tore off upstream and left me wondering why a sucker would smash a streamer. That question was answered when I got the fish to the net, it wasn’t a sucker, it was a 25″ walleye. This really demonstrates that it’ll happen eventually. It may not come in the way that you think, but if you are willing to put in the work, take those fishless days and put yourself in a position to get lucky, you’ll catch that fish. My first Catfish on the fly came the same way, I cast to a mystery fish in a place that was unexpected, and ended up catching that fish, which turned out to be a small catfish. How it got to the trout stream to this day remains largely unknown, but you won’t see me complaining.