How To Catch A Big Firehole Brown Trout

After a recent blog post, a number of folks have asked me how they might go about catching a big brown trout on the Firehole River. Seems as though they’re not seeing or catching anything like those I described. My answer to everyone that asks begins with the question: “How much of your fishing time is spent on your knees?” Most of the answers I receive hover in the neighborhood of zero. But I figure that of my own fishing time, around 85% is spent crawling around on my hands and knees. Without doing that, I believe my own chances of catching a big one (or even many of normal size) are near zero, too. Note that I’m speaking here of fishing to rising fish; you might catch a big one while standing up if you’re running nymphs or streamers through deep water.  

Big Firehole browns have never been tolerant of violations of streamcraft. Careful stalking and fishing from your knees is what allows you to get close enough to one of them to make controlled, accurate, drag-free casts. Brown trout also do not take every natural insect that floats over them. Far from it. They rise when they feel like rising, quantity of naturals be damned. So it often takes a good number of casts before the timing of your drift coincides with the trout’s inclination to rise. Again, it’s paramount that those casts are accurate, delicate, free of drag. It will help even further—check that, much of the time it’s essential—to be able to make those casts in the wind.  

Observation and patience are critical factors as well. You must be willing, if necessary, to wait for an emergence of flies. You must be willing to wait for fish to rise. You must be willing to pass on small fish all while knowing there are no guarantees of a big one coming up to feed. Indeed, you must fish with your eyes and your feet before you fish with your fly.

If this all sounds like a tall order, know that it is. But that’s what it takes. And when it all comes together, I don’t know of a more rewarding Firehole experience.

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