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May 17, 2007

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Find Changes, Find The Fish

The best lesson I ever learned about locating trout in a river actually was taught to me by Steve “Creature” Coulter, 40 miles off Hatteras, North Carolina, as we were chasing tuna in the open Atlantic. I stared out at the blue horizon and asked him how in the world he went about finding fish in a place like that. “It isn’t so hard,” he smiled. “It’s just like trout fishing.”

For the record, Creature might be one of the most decorated big game fishermen on the Atlantic seaboard, but his closet fishing passion is chasing trout with flies.

“How do you figure,” I asked, totally perplexed by the comparison.

And he explained: “Fish like changes.” Changes in currents, changes in depth, changes in water color, changes in structure. If you find a patch of sea grass floating in the open ocean, you’ll find fish under it. If you find a place where currents converge and bait schools, fish will be there also. Reefs, wrecks, and rock formations attract fish too.

So apply that thinking when you go to the trout river. Look for changes in currents, where swift water meets slow water, changes in structure, where rocks and trees create holding water, changes in depth, like shelves and pools, or changes in color, which usually signals a depth or structural transition. “It’s all pretty much the same,” Creature laughed. “You trout guys can walk or row a boat to find those changes, and we have to run a bit out here to find them … but that’s how you locate fish.” Find the changes, and you find the fish.

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