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“Moving On”

by Robert Morselli

A recent fly fishing trip to the Catskills region high-lighted the importance of moving on.

On day one of the trip, I saw what is an increasingly common sight: anglers lining up to fish a particularly productive fishing hole, or pool. One that is known for accommodating a good portion of large browns.  Perhaps even a trophy brown.

Each angler had their allotted time to formulate a strategy and make a number of casts. They then had to move out and let the next angler get their shot at this notable fishing spot.

It’s easy to understand why any angler would want their turn at fishing these hot-spots. What’s not to like about successfully guiding a 25-inch trout to your net?

On day two, during a brief wade through a shallow stretch, I spotted five or perhaps six anglers lined-up at one of the holes. I found this activity, or more precisely, inactivity, to be unappealing.

Anglers want and ought not be deprived their trophy fish, but I’ll argue that there’s a balance to be struck, and that there’s an uneven balance when line-ups at pools bring to mind standing in line with your kid in order to get onto a ride at Disney. Notable pools and holes are just that because of the generously sized fish they harbor, but even the most legendary of fishing holes can suffer from over-fishing. Some even undergo temporary exhaustion, leaving anglers wondering what might be wrong.

Despite the overfishing, fish will usually return to these holes because of the extraordinary underwater topography that offers both protection and a steady supply of nourishment.

I can’t help feeling that landing that trophy trout – or even just a hefty trout – in an unexpected location will make that fish all the more memorable. The expression “shooting fish in a barrel” comes to mind, and there’s no fun – or satisfaction – in that.

One of several golden rules in angling is to cover as much water as possible, so the next time you see one of these line-ups, move on. Time on the water is best spent fishing, not waiting for your turn.

MidCurrent Fly Fishing
Robert Morselli is the research director for the internationally syndicated television show "How It's Made."
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  • Rick

    A very odd description of a day out on the Beaverkill (?) or West Branch (?)
    “Allotted time”?
    “Had to move out”?
    Must have been the Beaverkill or else the author would have been complaining about the line of drift boats anchored up on the West Branch for hours in prime (and limited) wade spots.
    If you are at all familiar with the Catskill river systems it is not that difficult to pick your spots and find a quiet reach on productive water. Knowing the system, in this case, is much more important than randomly moving on, in crapshoot style.

  • Cee Blue

    -‘ anglers lining up ‘ ‘ allotted time ‘ i.e. combat fishing

    [ it ] reminds me of how much I like watching paint dry

  • Acethecat1

    I have wound up in front of the same Delaware County Judge more than once for trespassing because of days like that. I will NOT stand shoulder to shoulder with anybody to catch a fish. I will NOT WAIT MY TURN to fish a pool. Get a life!! Move on. Find your own water. Trespass if you have to (buyer beware). If you do enough exploring you will find fish in unexpected places and the harder it is to prospect for, and, catch trout the more rewarding your experience will be. Leave the pools to the fools, find your own game.