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Pick Pockets with ISA Streamering Technique


Tom L
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One of my favorite spots on the Fox River has a long beautiful deep run. The main current tongue extends about 150 yards downstream. The head of run consists of several large boulders 2’-3’ in diameter and mixed of bowling ball size rocks. The current here is always swift. Those boulders are still slightly submerged now, with the drought that we are experiencing. Current boils, eddies and deep pockets formed below those large boulders.

 

I have had good success fishing the current tongues and the seams of this run. But it had been a big dilemma fishing the head, where those boulders are. I had tried reaching the pockets from upstream, but the current was always too fast. My fly sank only a few inches. I couldn’t get it down deep enough to the fish. I had tried from the sides, but the conflicting currents prevented my fly from getting good drifts. Also, I had tried from downstream casting into those pockets, but my fly snagged the bottom every single time. Frustrated, I waded into the spot to knick my fly off the bottom. One or two fish would usually leap out of the water. That was how I discovered that there were always a few fish holding in those pockets.

 

About 3 weeks ago, after fishing the current tongues and seams I was determine to catch those fish in the pockets. All my previous fail attempts had been casting into the pockets from distances away. The closest had been about 20 feet. I had to do something different this time. So, I approached the area from a side and slowly waded into a casting position that was about the rod length, about 9 feet. With only 11’ of leader out of my rod tip and a heavy weighted streamer (a Clouser minnow), I made a short 45 degrees upstream cast into the boil behind the first big boulder. I allowed the fly 2 seconds to sink and slowly guided it (dragged it) downstream with a tightline. Right away, a 14” smallmouth took the fly. I worked the spot a few more casts with the same presentation and got another 13” smallmouth. I repeated the same presentation at other pockets in the area and was able to pick up a few more fish. Since then, I had repeated the same technique at the spot with pretty good results. Those fish that held in the pockets were not very big around 12”-14”, but they were very hard fighters.

 

I think a trout guy would call this “Pick Pockets with European Nymphing technique”. But since I was doing it with a streamer, so I called it “Pick Pockets with ISA Streamering technique”.

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Tom

Making a short upstream cast from a downstream position with a more buoyant fly such as a murdich might avoid the snagging problem.If needed a BB splitshot at the fly eye.I know you don't favor bassbugs but they could also work.Dryflies too given that the fish there are smaller.

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A murdich or popper just zipped right thru the area, because the current was too swift and there were conflicting currents that put draggs on the fly line quickly. There were only small pockets that had calmer water below large boulders. The fish were holding closed to the bottom where the current was slower. They would not come up to hit a surface fly or close-to the surface fly. I had to get the fly down to them. The heavy weighted fly, long leader and small diameter of the leader helped penetrate the water column. Many times, I had to slap the fly hard on the water surface to help the penetration and to create noise to get the fish attention.

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Could you swing nymph with a 1/2 ounce jig? What you describe is what frustrates me at times with fly fishing. Sounds like you figured it out. It always amazes me how many fish wil be in a fast chute. Heavy jigs and heavy carolina or dropshot rigs tight lined from upstream can pull a bunch of fish from these spots. I've have some lead core that I can work into the leader that I'll try next time.

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