PhillyPhisher

Losing fish at your feet

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So 3 times in the last couple weeks I've lost really good fish within a rods length of me. 

 

Yesterday it it was two very large, very hot rainbows. One of them may have been a steelhead. Both fish hit like freight trains. Peeling line almost before I knew they were there. I was fishing a 10' 4wt. Both fish at #18 PT. Both also hit down stream of me. I try to play fish as little as needed but was trying to take it easy on these two as they were really nice fish. Got them both close. Thought I had them beat. Pulled the hook on both. 

 

A couple weeks ago had the same thing happen with a monster brown. This time on a wooly bugger. At my feet. Getting ready to net it. 

 

Is this just something that happens sometimes with big fish in heavy water and I've had a run of bad luck? Big fish small hooks? I know downstream take can be tough to sink but all these fish were fought long enough that it seems the hook got in. 

 

Any advice is much appreciated. Thanks guys. 

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I believe the vast majority of fish are won or lost at hook set.

 

So, assuming you had a good hook set, it could be bad luck. It could be an unforgiving rod tip. It could be a hook positioned in a dicey spot. It could be you let up the pressure enough for the hook to slip free. It could be that you put too much pressure on the fish. It could be the hook wasn't sticky sharp. You see where this is going. The thing is, none of us were there, so it's really hard to armchair quarterback.

 

Steve Culton

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Like Steve said it could be a number of things. Fishing in a stream in moving water is an entirely different ballgame than on a ocean beach. 

 

I only mention that because people will also often ask the very same thing when fishing salt and the question I always ask is what was your rod position. In most cases the answer is the classic straight up, slide the fish into the net position. I always felt that was the reason I lost many of my fish because when iIgot them in close I changed the hook angle causing it to tilt and pull up and out. When I changed my rod position and dropped it to the side that allowed me to keep the same straight hook angle and my catch ratio improved dramatically.

 

I am only throwing that out there as a possibility.

Edited by bonefishdick

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My first thought would be that if you are targeting steelhead caliber rainbows, than maybe you should switch to a heavier rod. That light tackle makes it very difficult for the rod to do the work (stretch in floating line, fighting with rod tip and drag).  

 

On the converse, I actually enjoy a nice LDR (Long Distance Release). You never touch it and typically the fish gets off and swims strong on its own accord. 

 

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Biggest clue is that tiny size 18 hook. Lively Rainbows and large to boot. Surprised that you did not straighten the hook let alone that it pulled. It would

be a bigger surprise if you landed them.

 

Mike

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51 minutes ago, KinFisher said:

That light tackle makes it very difficult for the rod to do the work (stretch in floating line, fighting with rod tip and drag).  

 

 

Very respectfully disagree, especially you play the fish with the bottom third of the rod and the reel.

 

 

37 minutes ago, Mike Oliver said:

Biggest clue is that tiny size 18 hook.

 

Yes, but he had similar recent experience with a Woolly Bugger. I'll wager it wasn't size 18. :-)

 

Steve Culton

 

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I am never unhappy when a fish gets off, at my feet.  We call it a "gentleman's release"."If you would catch more trout, you must kill less".  A sign at Tobyhanna Creek, PA.

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Steve

We all lose fish at our feet or before. Takes on the dangle or well downstream as we both know are often a bit fragile compared to hook ups on an upstream presentation. Plus fish has advantage with the current right off the bat.

I am with Klingon who cares if a fish gets off. It was going back anyway. We were blessed with that amazing connection and field releases are the very best mostly.

If I was a Trout I would be very grateful not to have to suffer being handled or bundled into a rough net or  dragged up onto the gravel  and then often have to gasp  drowning in air whilst a photo is taken me.

 

Mikey

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That's better.

 

I agree that when the fish is at your feet, you got your money's worth. Still, it's nice to be able to hold that big one. 

 

However, not everyone roughly handles, uses C&R unfriendly nets, drags onto gravel, or unnecessarily exposes trout to air for prolonged periods.

 

This wild Farmington brown was out of the water for a grand total of five seconds, hardly detrimental to its health.

P8290317.thumb.JPG.de560146c71ac99669168792c65078b1.JPG

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Even when you're flying solo at night, and your quarry is a brown approaching the  20" mark, you can get a quick fish-friendly shot. The majority of this brown is still in the water. He did just fine, because I caught him three weeks later.

P7190023.thumb.JPG.8e8f4157eb8d3221ecb7b3a731deb25d.JPG

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Even rambunctious steelhead can be safely and quickly shot. This is a closeup, but I'd estimate that 90% of this fish was in the water for this photo.

NoCoSpiderSteel.thumb.JPG.5285b456b4247e67b74423d6afce43ef.JPG

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Finally, you don't need expose the fish to the air for even one second to get a good photo.

IMG_2380.thumb.jpg.2294a312434bc9ed019e8580b5c8eaeb.jpg

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OK, yes, I've beached stripers on wet sand to shoot them. But as our friend Ted once pointed out, bass semi-beach themselves regularly when feeding in the wash and seem none worse for the wear.

 

A little common sense is all we can ask.

 

Steve Culton

 

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Steve

  • I was speaking as an advocate of the Trout in fact as though I was a Trout.
  • No mercy towards  humans no matter how kind and good during the act of releasing , me.
  • Yes I am krackers. But you know that already.

Cheers

 

Mike

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Keeping the fish in the water is important, but I'll wager that the fish only cares that you keep his head in the water for obvious reasons. I'm with MO and Klingon regarding the "gentleman's release", but like Steve says..it's nice to hold a nice one.

In the salt, spin or fly, the guys I fish with prefer to call the release, a "Catalina release" when it's a bluefish on the business end of the hook. Love hooking, them, fighting them, admiring them at close range but as for handling them..good riddance for bad rubbish.

There is a great article about landing bigger fish upstream on another website. Can't show it here. If you PM me I'll send you the website.

The article is about technique. 

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"Gentleman's Releases" are more common if you are using barbless hooks.  Were you using them?  In which case, rod pressure on the fish is more important.  But I agree with the others, such releases hurt fish a lot less and. after all, you got the fish to take your fly in the first place. 

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Good job hooking up.

Lots of factors can come into play.

If you lost the bows were I think you were fishing, big fish, small hook, big water might have something to do with it.

Sometimes the fish just win. I've had some pretty impressive losing streaks in my life, particularly with steelhead and saltwater coho.

SF

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45 minutes ago, Stonefish said:

 

Sometimes the fish just win. I've had some pretty impressive losing streaks in my life, particularly with steelhead and saltwater coho.

SF

Right with you. Nowhere in fishing is life more unfair than with steelhead.

 

Steve Culton

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