Fishing When the Fish Are Off
Technology creates some interesting and funny situations these days. A few days ago a friend of mine was giving me real-time fishing updates as I sat at the computer. The fishing was "off" at the time so we talked about tactics. There had been a hatch earlier in the day but once it ended the feeding had pretty much stopped. He tried a few different unconventional tactics just short of TNT and luckily found some things that worked. Here's some things to try when the fish are off.
1. Cover way more water. Even when most of the fish are not feeding a few will be. Increase the pace at which you cover water and you'll be more likely to get you fly in front of a few fish that are feeding.
2. Go big and bold. Sometimes even fish that seem to be full can't resist the chance for a big meal. Try big dries, big bright nymphs, or even big streamers.
3. Go small. I know I just said go big but, I'll admit, it doesn't always work. Especially on tailwaters and spring creeks, go tiny, very tiny. Size 24 midge larva patterns on 7X tippet are a favorite of mine when the fish get ultra picky.
3. Move your offerings right as they get into the fish zone. A twitch or a lift can entice a strike, even from fish that seem completely satiated.
4. Bump them in the nose. Especially where you can see fish, work on getting the perfect drift so that your nymphs get exactly in the fish's face. You'll either scare them or they'll give in. However, once you get your fly on the fish's nose once, if it doesn't take it, revert to number 1 above and cover a lot of water until you find another fish.
Hopefully, the fish are always in a furious feeding mode for you, but if you happen to have an "off" day, at least give these things a try. You don't have much to lose.