Sunday, November 29, 2009

Beat rotation fishing, Midwest style

Beat rotation fishing, Midwest style




Nearly everywhere in the world of Atlantic Salmon and Steelhead fly fishing a system of angler movement and ethics is used which allows multiple anglers to fish the same run, beat, or pool. Everyone gets the same fair chance.

The system is simple.



The first angler in the run casts until he or she has worked out enough line to cover the run. Then they take one to three steps downstream after each cast depending on the conditions. The anglers following wait until the person before them is comfortably down the run and then start in themselves. If someone catches a fish, they move to the back of the line to allow someone else a chance or move on to the next beat. This effectively forms a sort of conga-line in the run. It works for fly-fishing and gear as well as long as everyone progresses down the run. Everyone gets to have fun and cover the water. Under no circumstances should somebody enter the water in front of somebody else. That effectively torpedoes the whole concept and is called low-holing. If one is unsure what someone else is doing or where they can get in the run, they ask the angler in the water. Asking usually prevents incidents of misunderstanding.



Boy do I wish that this would catch on here in the Great Lakes, but alas, it never does except with a few enlightened souls.



Instead, here in the Midwest we seem to have a separate set of rules. Here anglers behave like the players in an old electric football game. They wander in aimless directions, one goes to the left, one to the right, one spins in circles, while the fourth one falls down.



Here are the rules as I see them practiced:



1. If you do get into a run, you are one lucky boy! Under no circumstances should you move. Cast from the same position in all directions. If you wait long enough, a fish might swim through the run and eat your fly or bait/lure.

2. If the approach you are using does not prove effective, under no circumstances change what you are doing. Keep it up and sooner or later you will either catch a steelhead or die, whichever comes first…

3. If someone is in a run, under no circumstances talk to them or look at them. Just proceed below them to their casting distance and low-hole them. They will get the point sooner or later that the entire river belongs to you.

4. If you are fishing with spawn, make absolutely certain to tell everyone how many fish you have caught.

5. If you see someone about to enter an otherwise empty piece of water, run down the bank and jump in the water before they get there. Remember the spoils belong to the bold and greedy.

6. If you are fishing from the bank with spinning gear, make sure that you cut off anybody wading from any good fish holding water.

7. If you are new to fishing with a two-hander and are having trouble casting, just stay in the run and practice your casting without moving. Since you have no chance, neither should anybody else.

8. If you are wading below a nice piece of holding water or a run and want to fish it, do not get out of the water to walk up to the run on the bank or a path. Instead, splash your way stumbling upstream through the heart of the run. This should stir the fish up and put them in a biting mood.



Or, as an alternative, how about adopting a simple rule…?



“Treat others as you yourself would wish to be treated.”



I saw a guy with a spey rod fishing a run the other day. I fished through two runs above him, then one run below him. He had not moved. Not one single step. I left for another part of the river in frustration. My friend Rick was arriving as I left and I told him about the anchoring angler. Rick fished through a couple runs himself and still the guy had not moved. He was there for three hours. Later I saw him walking out of the water. For a second I wondered if it was the same guy because earlier in the day he was a young dude in his 20s, while the octogenarian before me sported a long beard, a bent back, and was having trouble walking. Then I noticed his hat. Same guy. He had spent so much time in the run that he had grown old. (O.K., so I made that last part up.)



Here are some very well thought out rules of the river courtesy of Poppy at the Redshed flyshop. If we all practiced them, then we would all have a better experience on the river.



"TREAT OTHER ANGLERS AS YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED"



"RESPECT OTHER ANGLER'S FISHING SPACE,

DO NOT LOW HOLE"



"ALWAYS ASK PERMISSION TO SHARE A RUN,

START BEHIND OTHER ANGLERS ALREADY FISHING"



"WHEN FISHING A RUN WITH OTHER ANGLERS MOVE DOWN A COUPLE STEPS AFTER EACH CAST IS FINISHED"



"AFTER YOU LAND A FISH GET OUT AND GO BACK TO THE TOP OF THE RUN"



"HELP A NEW ANGLER IF IT'S OBVIOUS THEY ARE HAVING TROUBLE, OFFER USEFUL TIPS, SHARE A FLY OR TWO"



"WHEN FISHING CATCH & RELEASE USE TACKLE HEAVY ENOUGH TO LAND THE FISH WITHOUT A PROLONGED FIGHT, MASH THE BARB TO MAKE THE RELEASE EASIER ON THE FISH"



"RESPECT PRIVATE PROPERTY, ASK FIRST,

LEAVE GATES AS YOU FOUND THEM"



"PROTECT THE RESOURCE, DON'T LITTER"



"REPORT GAME LAW VIOLATERS"



"RELEASE ALL WILD STEELHEAD"



"LIMIT YOUR KILL, DON'T KILL YOUR LIMIT"

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great thread Eric. If only we could get the right folks to read it, get the point and then practice it? You have discribed swing fishing in Wisconsin to a tee.
TT

the nutman said...

it doesnt always work here either ,but it is nice when it does .I yelled at a guy about low holeing me this summer ,he made his way back to his car and started swearing at me from there ,i made my way out of the water (not happy )he threw his stuff in the car and drove off as fast as he could . hours later i drove by the run there was the guy right in the same spot.
Guys spend lots of money to try new gear or look the part but dont know the rules .Im from the eastcoast hell there they just stand around a hole with hundreds of lines in the water .yup thats fishing ????????

Anonymous said...

I am reviving an old post off this blog.. I think it should be re-visited every spring and fall. I recently had an encounter with a rather large group of angers from out of town who decided the rules of 1/2 hour before sunrise did not pertain to them on the Milwaukee River. 45 was close enough I suppose...ahem
They anchored themselves sporadically through a very nice run.. some standing to the side, others right in the middle of it.
I guess the best way to ensure you have access to a favorite run is to invite 5 of your best buds to occupy it ALL DAY LONG with you. A sort of "private" conga line rotation. I think it was a dirty loophole in the rules of etiquette.
I must add.. I was very disappointed in the individuals part-taking.. I did not expect this from them.