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More than luck

Peter Kolesar, left, and guide Adrian LaSorte display a big Delaware brown trout.
TRR photo by Andy Boyar

August 3, 2016

It has been written that anglers go through several stages, beginning with catching the first fish. It does not matter whether it is a big one or a small one. The trick is to repeat that catch again and again. “I got my first rainbow today!” or “I caught a small-mouth bass on the Delaware!” Maybe it will be your first brook trout on a small Royal Coachman wet fly. There are a lot of opportunities to fill out your “dance card” of firsts.

At the next stage the angler wants to catch a LOT—big fish, small fish, game fish, or rough fish. It does not matter. At this point, the fisher just wants action, and lots of it.

Then the angler starts focusing and imposing some personal goals and challenges. This leads to the final stage, when the angler wants a specific trophy fish, even if that fish is to be properly released after a quick vanity photo or two.

Some say that 90% of fish are caught by 10% of anglers, and it is not surprising that 90% of trophy fish are caught by 1%. What do these top anglers have in common? The answer might be focus and a sharp memory. The observant angler will see or experience certain “tells,” perhaps a near-hookup where the fish is a lunker or maybe just sighting one cruising. More often than not, the large fish are seen and caught in the same hot spots year in and year out. Remember those spots.

Last week I had the opportunity to fish a private lake. At just such a “holding” spot as described above, I saw a huge push of water in the shallows as my canoe approached. No, I did not catch that fish that day, but I did store that information in my memory bank so that I could return a few days later with a fishing partner. We approached the same spot with greater stealth, and that huge bass was still home. Now we had the advantage. The bass inhaled a popper, and after a fine battle, we were able to land and release the trophy.

Recently, I had a guided outing with Delaware River advocate Peter Kolesar. He and guide Adrian LaSorte focused on a single rising fish on the Delaware for about an hour. This huge Delaware brown sipped flies at irregular intervals. Peter put a tiny fly in the feeding lane with a drag-free drift time after time. Most fishers would have given up. I was so fascinated by this chess game and the interaction between the fish, the guide and the angler, it caused me to stop fishing entirely and just watch. The whole show was mesmerizing.