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Mark Stangeland - NUFlyGuide
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Pocket Fish

Posted by Mark Sunday, April 29, 2012

If you are one of twelve people that have been reading my blog you might remember the Pocket Fish. This is not a fish that is in my pocket, it is a fish that holds in a pocket of bedrock on the North Umpqua.He holds on the far side of a tail out that is on one of the most popular runs on the river.The fish is not always there but when it is, I try to get a fly to him. This is an almost impossible cast, from an almost impossible spot, to an almost impossible to reach and far off lie.Suffice it to say this fish does not see a lot of flies. 99% of the people that fish this spot have no idea the fish is even there.But he often is,and when you get a fly to him he is usually an eater.I have been working the fish that hold in this spot for 27+years.I still feel like a beginning caster many times when I try for him.The casting position is the first issue. You are 15 feet up on the side of a rock cliff.It is hard to get an anchor on the water from that height and timing is critical.There is no room to pick the line up and go overhead so it is a insane roll cast with a single hand rod. It rarely all comes together for me when I fish it. Then there is the upstream wind that is almost always cooking through this little gorge. A perfectly executed cast can be reduced to a pile of line in a hurry. Finally there is the current and how to mend the line and fly once it hits the water. Not an easy feat at those distances and from such a high position.

The handful of fish that I have hooked there over the years are some of my most rewarding of any I have encountered. It is a challenging test that I put myself through as often as there is a fish there.These are the places that I began to gravitate to after nearly 3 decades on the the river. I fish my regular haunts of course but as pressure increases, I find myself searching out the hard cast, the hard wade,the difficult casting situation. To those familiar with the river,there is no lack of these types of situations on the North Umpqua. What I have found is that it has opened up a whole new river for me. I look at things differently, I fish weird water, I explore more and find that there are hundreds of potential "pocket fish" lies where fish seldom see a fly.A little more bush whacking and pushing your wading and casting to new levels can be rewarding.Often the casts that are used are unorthodox at best and have not ever been named. These casts are instinctual to me now and that saying "necessity is the mother of invention" rings so true. These kind of spots are all about fishing. The casts re not always the prettiest when you have your back up against a wall of brush, rock or trees but I have not met a fish yet that was impressed with a tight loop. Tight loops are pretty but way overrated. It's about what you do with the cast after it hits the water many times that make the difference between a grab and nothing.

Where is your "pocket fish"? Are you willing to rethink the places you fish and begin to push your limits? Pushing the limits of your ability can reinvent,revive and perhaps bring new life to the river you fish and have grown comfortable on.Are you willing to put yourself in difficult casting and wading positions to challenge yourself and perhaps find overlooked spots in well traveled water? I think you will find that stretching and pushing the boundaries of normal thinking,getting out of your comfort zone will take you on a road less traveled. Putting yourself on that lonely road or the run or lie that is often overlooked may just put you into contact with more of these magnificent creatures that have captured the hearts and minds of steelheaders everywhere.

Good Fishing


  1. Ken Campbell Says:
  2. Aye...

  3. Anonymous Says:
  4. Is that similar to ninja fishing?


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