The old adage that preparedness and effort, with a little luck, often produces success is very much evident with big streamer fishing.
The bare minimum for streamer fishing requires a fly rod and a fly designed to mimic fleeting baitfish. Beyond the basics, it’s the proper attitude. We’ve all seen Jeremy Wade and his made for TV “being one with the fish” act. He also commonly wears a shirt covered in holes, whether earned or placed for production. Intentional? Most likely, or perhaps he’s on something. He looks like a homeless drifter in need of a solid bath and shave. I recently watched one of his shows where he fished for two hard weeks for musky and finally landed a massive musky jigging a minnow attempting to save the trip by landing a “gimmie” species. Yes, it was all for TV, but the lesson was not lost on me. Never give up, keep casting, give ‘er hell.
These fish we are after, the big bass, trophy trout, violent pike and ferocious musky, they’re killers.
Nothing gets the blood going like seeing a fish chase down and crush your streamer or popper presentation. The V wake of a pike or bass chasing a frog will stop your breath. When that pike breaches the surface, it’s not there to wound, it’s there so assault and devour. You’ve got to think like the fish to fool an apex predator into eating your fur, flash, and feathers.
Last year was my most productive year for streamer fishing for big fish. I made a conscious determination to really get after those predators. The stocked trout are fun, the 40” musky are considerably more fun. I caught less fish overall in 2014, but it was much more memorable than prior. Creeping into murky water, not knowing what is out of sight ready to tear into your shin. Step slowly into the soft mud as to not kick up too much silt or make much of a ripple on the pool. Really think of where that toothy bastard is hiding. What is the best ambush presentation, and how do I place the cast to convince him to leave the safety of that log to take a chance? That fish probably already knows you’re there.
I’ve missed more takes on streamers than I care to remember. When I did connect, I distinctly recall having confidence that when this fish hits, its mine. We can all be accused of being lazy, or hungover, while not giving 100% concentration to every cast, retrieve, and hook set. To be successful you have to possess the attitude that you’re fly is half a second away from being mashed and you need to hit that fish with a hard strip set. Make every cast count. Be ready to strip set the hell out of any log or fish your fly touches. None of that comes with having thousands of dollars worth of gear at your disposal. It’s the attitude to “be one with the predator”.
You can cast the fastest action rod, and the most aggressive fly line, keep that line the fanciest reel and have the nicest raft on the river but the latest in technology is for naught if you can’t cast worth a damn. I’ve got a couple good fishing buddies that save tons of money compared to me when it comes to fishing gear and apparel, and they often out fish me. I’ve learned to respect the Krispy Kreme vest and a well-worn Jansport “fishing pack”.
I’m gonna go dig out that old fishing shirt with the burn holes and blown out armpits.
By Chris Roslonski