Call us toll-free at 1-800-661-6954

Welcome to The Fishin' Hole Canada's source for tackle and sport fishing equipment. Try us for all of your sportfishing needs...In store, on-line or toll free. You'll get hooked on the service!

Eliminating the Spook Factor

 

Ironside Pond north of Caroline is one of growing number of catch and release trout fisheries springing up across Alberta. I love this tiny pond, and I hate it. On the plus side the trout grow large making it hard, seriously hard, to catch a trout under 40 cm. Most are between 40 – 50 cm and every day my friends and I fish it we catch a couple in the 50’s. The pond is small, intimate you might say and having fished it many times over the past summer I’ve come to know the small details. There’s a depression that usually hides a trout on the launch side of the closest beaver lodge and, along the shore north of the launch there are undercuts that house big trout. I know where many of the trout will be, but so do many of the other anglers who fish it. Over the course of a season these trout see a lot, a whole lot of fish hooks, mostly flies.

That leads to a challenge: how to catch them when summer is coming into fall and the trout are at their wariest? I’ve found a few things will turn window shopping trout into full on consumers and the answer is in eliminating the spook factor. There are a few ways to do this and here are some of the ideas I tried that have worked.

On the fly front, the first thing I did was extend the lengths of our leaders. When I was casting flies, I’d use a 15 foot tapered leader and add a few feet or more of tippet. That way the fly is a mile away from the line on presentation. I spooked fewer trout this way and got more bites. This set up was great for the dozen or so fish I could target around the shores, but once they’ve seen a fly or two, they weren’t biting no matter how good an imitation I threw at them.

I then decided to target the trout in the main lake basin and they could be anywhere, deep, shallow, on the surface or somewhere in between. I kept the theme of long leaders in mind for these fish too. I have a fast sinking line dedicated to trolling and an intermediate line for trolling and casting. On the fast sink I never cast it so I don’t mess with tapered leaders. Instead I tie on 25 feet of 3X tippet and attach a big buggy looking fly. The long tippet reduces the spook factor and the deep presentation gets to fish that have seen fewer hooks. Double Shrimps, sparsely dressed Woolly Buggers, 52 Buicks, and Spratleys are my flies of choice. On the troll I vary the speeds and the depths to continually throw these fish off their game and pay attention to bites, even if they’re not hook ups.

For example, I typically got more bites when I was trolling the fly away from the sun through the midday period. In the mornings and evenings this orientation didn’t matter, but during midday it was something worth paying attention to. Another valuable tidbit was trolling pace. I often cranked my electric motor sharply to one side, and then the other with the boat more or less heading in a straight direction. This caused the rods on either side of the boat to speed up or slow down dramatically depending on their position in the turn. Often, strikes would come at one particular point of the turn, say for example; the outside rod that was sped up got the hits. With this nugget of info in my pocket I could put a little more pace into the electric and usually get more bites.

One of the best ways to sneak up on wary fish is to make them believe you’re not there at all. I’m convinced that on heavily fished lakes the boat spooks fish. This puts them on guard about anything that passes over head and my solution is to extend my reach by switching to what I’ll call long line trolling. That is, I’ll let out an extraordinary amount of line to separate my hook from the boat.

This presentation has its drawbacks and it comes with the expense of missed hits. With upwards of 80 to a 100 feet of line behind the boat there’s a lot of stretch causing a near disconnect between rod, hook, and fish. Hook sets are meaningless as very little energy from the snap of the rod actually makes it to the hook. To overcome this it is critically important to continually sharpen hooks to a prickly point so that any fish that seriously takes a shot at the fly or lure will hook themselves. The rule I go by is one missed hit, bad luck, two missed hits, bad hook and I’ll bring it in to touch it up, even if upon inspection it feels good.

I’ve had a tremendous amount of luck using the long line trolling method. I have found it to be effective for all game fish using everything from flies, spoons, spinners and jigs to plugs with great success. The next time the fish are spooky and playing hard to get, change things up, go long, whether that be with leaders or trolling length, you’ll find a bend in your rod a lot more often.


Previous Fishing Articles

(1) In The Walleye Zone

(2) Zoo Trout

(3) Fly Selection for Beginners

(4) Fly Fisher's Christmas

(5) New Waters

(6) Big Bad Burbot

(7) Looking Back

(8) Out of Africa

(9) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams

(10) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish

(11) The Browns of Autumn

(12) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons

(13) Walleye Town

(14) River Fun - One Bite At A Time

(15) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers

(16) Going With The Flow

(17) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman

(18) Swinging The Fences

(19) A View From The Aerie

(20) Dixieland Delight

(21) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts

(22) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon

(23) Montana's Cool Missouri

(24) Pretty Is As Pretty Does

(25) Toothy Critters

(26) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake

(27) Top Ten Flies

(28) Northern Exposure

(29) Home Water Lessons

(30) Chicken Of The Sea

(31) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish

(32) Deep In The Heart Of Texas

(33) Keep It Up!

(34) River Fishing for Fall Walleye

(35) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the flood

(36) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity

(37) Hawg Holes

(38) Saltwater Salmon

(39) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing

(40) Down a Lazy River –
A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan

(41) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead

(42) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS

(43) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES

(44) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver

(45) Canada's "Other" Salmon

(46) Fall Walleye

(47) Wet Flies

(48) Versatility the Key to Success

(49) Grayling of the Boreal

(50) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish

(51) Size Matters

(52) Fly Fishing Small Streams

(53) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time

(54) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel

(55) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas

(56) The Point Of It All

(57) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day

(58) Fall Fly Fishing

(59) Personal Pontoon Boats 101

(60) Big River, Big Fish

(61) Bottom Bonanza

(62) Fishing Small Flies

(63) So Many Choices, So Little Time

(64) Four Seasons of the Bow

(65) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot

(66) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT

(67) Trout Hunting - New Zealand-style

(68) Don’t Leave Home Without Them –
10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box

(69) Edge Walleye

(70) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER

(71) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge

(72) Four Corners – Four Waters

(73) Chasing Pothole Trout

(74) Springtime Stoneflies

(75) The Torrents of Spring

(76) Drift Boat Fly Fishing

(77) Bust Them With Bait

(78) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book

(79) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months

(80) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout

(81) Terrestrials

(82) Fly In For Fishing Fun

(83) Rocky Mountain High

(84) Reading the clues

(85) Where the Trout Are
The art of locating feeding trout
in rivers and streams.

(86) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin

(87) Fly Fishing 101

(88) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod

(89) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay

(90) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder

(91) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead

(92) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital

(93) Eliminating the Spook Factor

(94) Trust Your Electronics

(95) The Most Important Hatch of the Year

(96) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout

(97) Finding Success for Ice Trout

(98) Walleye can be Humbling

(99) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed

(100) Winter Flyfishing

(101) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Gem

(102) Hot Fall Pike Action

(103) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down

(104) Reading Trout Stream Waters

(105) Frequently Asked Questions

(106) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout

(107) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice

(108) Deep Water Perch

(109) Post Spawn Brookies

(110) A Fisher's Life

(111) The River's Last Stand

(112) The Big Ones Come out at Night

(113) Coho on the Coast

(114) Chasing and Catching Halibut

(115) Summer in the Mountains

(116) Peak Walleye Season

(117) Slow and Steady Wins the Race

(118) Last Ice Rainbows

(119) The Burbot Event

(120) Tackle Matching

(121) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light

(122) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location

(123) The Lure of Brook Trout

(124) The Shallow Water Hunt is On

(125) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now

(126) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies

(127) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan

(128) The Vesatile Plug

(129) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout

(130) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures

(131) Good Fishing at Last Ice

(132) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations

(133) Daily Fish Migrations

(134) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn

(135) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star

(136) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing

(137) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing

(138) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser

(139) The Fun in Ultra Light

(140) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines

(141) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure

(142) Never Stop Learning

(143) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot

(144) Jigging through the Ice

(145) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline

(146) Rainbows on Ice

(147) The Season of Ice Begins

(148) Red Hot Fall Pike Action

(149) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman

(150) Facts On Cats

(151) West Coast Adventure

(152) June Walleye Frenzy

(153) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories

(154) "First Fish of the Year - Pothole Rainbows and Browns"

(155) "Northern Exposure"

(156) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish

(157) Early Season Pike On The Fly

(158) Man Overboard