Tip 1. BEWARE OF YOUR PRESENCE
Believe it or not, fish can hear or sense your presence very well. If you are yelling to your buddy across the lake and there’s a fish right in front of you chances are that fish will most likely spook. Trout also have incredible eyesight so if you’re moving your body around quickly and the fish are relatively close, chances are they will see you and quickly spook.
Tip 2. THROW DRY FLIES
Not only are dry flies way more fun to throw than nymphs, but they are also extremely effective and a great way to single out fish. Who doesn’t love sight fishing especially to sipping trout? I have found that a size 18 or 20 Parachute Adams, Small Ants, Gnats and other terrestrial patterns all work very well. Every lake is different so try different flies and observe the insects hatching and feeding behavior of trout.
Tip 3. MATCH THE HATCH
Often times once you arrive at a lake you will see fish rising, so before you even tie a fly on it’s never a bad idea to watch a couple of fish and look closely to try to figure out exactly what they are eating and replicate it with one of your own flies.
Tip 4. LEAD THE FISH
Like any sight fishing, you always want to try to lead the fish by about 3 to 5 feet. Personally, I like to lead the fish closer to 5 feet then if the fish changes direction I can strip the fly so the fly will intercept the path the fish is swimming or if it’s necessary to recast, I can recast quickly without spooking the fish. Make sure your fly is in line with the direction the fish is swimming and theoretically and hopefully the fish will rise and take your fly.
Tip 5. DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE WEATHER
Most often in high altitudes the mornings are sunny with low winds and then after about 12 o clock, clouds will move in and the wind will pick up, the earlier you can be at the lake the better, once the clouds roll in and the wind picks up, dry fly fishing will become extremely difficult and almost impossible to achieve. Trust me it’s all about fishing dries in the high country.
If your above tree line and the sky gets cloudy and you hear thunder, or see lightning get to tree line ASAP, you do not want to be above treeline waving a 9-foot graphite rod when a thunderstorm hits, this will happen pretty much at least once every single day in the mountains.
Tip 6. DON’T BE AFRAID TO GO OFF THE BEATEN PATH
In most cases, the lakes with longest hikes or hardest climbs are usually most productive. Overnight hikes are very common in getting to those harder to get to/more remote places that will hold more fish and especially more fish willing to eat flies. Its also never a bad idea to ask someone at the local fly shop in the area what lakes have been fishing well and go from there. However, it is never a bad idea to explore a lake with zero information on it, who knows you might just find a secret high alpine lake loaded with fish.
Article by Flynn Kenney, check him out on Instagram @fkenney4.