In the zone [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: In the zone

12-05-2001, 11:58 PM
How many of you have known you were going to hook a fish on the next cast and did! Its hard to explain but it starts out with a tingling through your body, sort of a shiver, everything around you seems to be in tune the fly is swinging perfect through the run and as you strip in a length of line for your next cast you know there is a fish waiting and your gonna hook him. A good friend of mine explains this as being in the zone, I am sure there is much more to this then we think? Interested in hearing others opinions on this topic.


12-06-2001, 11:56 AM
Many, many times. I even did it once this year on the Klickitat!!! Thats saying something. Usually it happens when i have spotted a fish in the fall. That time of year here in southwest Washington you can expect a grab from about 90% of the fish that you see. Also I have a spot on the N.Umpqua that if it is rested is a sure shot. Just a little slot below the break at a very famous pool.

I never feel that way on large rivers though or on any river for winter runs.

12-06-2001, 04:50 PM
Think it has a lot to do with 'are you fishing or are you catching?' Somewhat connected to the 'fight or flee' feeling you get when you're driving, whatever, and you know something is "wrong." (Or in this case "right") Survival instinct sort of thing? But with fishing some times you "just know" this is the cast.

Cool feeling. Kinda "primordial" in nature.

12-06-2001, 07:04 PM
When I've been doing a lot of fishing on the Deschutes, I definitely get this feeling. The Deschutes is a big river, so the feeling can come, regardless of the size of the stream being fished. The fly will be crossing ahead of me and I can just sense when there's going to be a grab.

Since I've been tied to my desk so much the past several seasons, I haven't been able to fish as much as I'd like, and I've found myself trying to force the feeling onto my self. Trying to will something that is unwillable, but just occurs spontaneously doesn't work for me. I always manage to fool myself.

"Just use the Force, Luke," or some such.

Hugh Falkus recounts an incident during which several experienced salmon anglers, who'd been having zilch luck all day, suddenly decided, during lunch, to go fishing. These anglers were out of sight of each other, each fishing a different beat. They all caught fish or hooked up at least during a short period during an otherwise blank day. Falkus cites this as an example of what we're talking about here.

12-06-2001, 11:19 PM
I sure wish that there was a way to will that feeling, but when it happens there is nothing like it!:cool:

12-07-2001, 12:09 AM
I'm guilty of having that feeling even when I am wrong :rolleyes:

But then there are those moments when my hands shake tying on a fly. I mumble to myself as if to narrate into the journals of my mind like a saturday morning flyfishing adventure episode on TV; me on the couch watching me - as my first cast sings out over the river in a halo of mist. Everything about the world is right - the dancing water and the cedar branches pouring down from the sky around me. The fly remembers how to work through the subtle features of the currents and reminds the angler how it's done. It gets hard to decide whether the sweet presentation you have now is better than the one that is three steps down the bank, and there's pleasure in the thought that it doesn't matter today. The shadows beneath the surface come alive with promise and you get that vibe. Yes, I think it's happenin' today. Today is the da... FISH ON!

12-10-2001, 01:19 PM
"Meet" a new member of the Int. Spey Board on line and invited him out Sunday for his first "exposure" to spey rods. Took about 20 minutes to get him 'in the zone' on the basics of single/double and snake. From conversation I knew he was good with a one hander and this quickly translated to the 7-136 Sage.

Leaning forward watching the line like it was a living thing. Too Cool (I was below him in the river) to see that line tighten up and the YA HOOOOOOO. I've created a Monster!!!.

End result of the day way he hooked three, landed two (steelhead) and for the day capper (said let's give it another 15 minutes then go do the husband thing) he sticks a 15# Coho on one of my BBB's (big, black and bushie). Fish this size on that light a spey rod are most interesting .... and then the old Phlg. Med. desided to fall apart (first time this has ever happened - two frame screws had loosened up which allowed the spool to bind).

So here's Nate, here's fish, here's Fred with the reel in pieces tryng to figure out what the heck was going on with the reel, Nate's looking at a rod that's pretty much bent double, looking and me with the 'now what Coach????' look.

When I figured out the problem was the two loose screws (or counting Nate and myself, 4 loose screws?), put reel back together, tighten them up with a knife blade and he's back in business. And eating Salmon for dinner last night.

12-10-2001, 11:09 PM
This reminds me of the book; "Trout Bum. Zen, and the art of nymph-fishing" by Gary LaFontaine & John Gierach.
Using our forgotten power to spot, lure and hook fish.
Our zen flies are allways sharp and are the exact match to any hatch.
"If it was only that easy, it wouldn't be called fishing."

Todd Ripley
12-11-2001, 05:52 PM
I call it the "Pre-Bite".

Once while driving up the N.Fk. Skykomish in the winter with my cousin in my truck, I pulled over fast, hit a snowpile, left my truck running with the door open, and scrambled down the bank in my sandals.

Tossed in, hooked up.

I just knew.


12-11-2001, 07:43 PM
Yes that feeling does occur at times. Mainly when I know there are steelhead or salmon in the pool and the conditions are perfect. Quite a feeling of anticipation when you believe the next cast or two will be a hook up.

But I have to say the most memorable feeling and event was a huge Musky I hooked up with for an hour on the Chippewa Flowage in Northern Wisconsin 6 years ago. I dropped off my boys at the campsite and went out by myself. Musky fishing is a lot like Steelhead fishing. The fish of a thousand casts they call it. I was dfifting over one of the most famous bars (shallow sand and weed humps in the middle of the lake) on the flowage which is named Petes Bar. Very famous place for Musky fishing. Many big musky have pulled off this location in the last century. The conditions were perfect in late June for big musky, windy, sunny day in the eighties, with a good chop on the water. Drifted over the bar 2 or 3 times skimming the tops of the weed beds with a medium size mepps spinner. Noticed on the fish finder this large object on one of the passes. Had fished there for several years and knew there were no major log jams or down trees. Looked like a big muskie, but of course I was not sure.

Well, I was bringing the Mepps through the bar and just new something was going to happen. The Mepps just stops. Nothing moves, and I am setting the hook with 40 pound test and a medium stiff musky rod. These rods are very stiff and similar to pool cues. Get the idea very strong. Well I ran the 16 foot lund over to where I now beleive the snag is. I get on top of it and start pumping convinced it is a tree stump. I did this for maybe a couple of minutes and was just about to cut the line and tie on another lure. Well the stump starts moving very slowly and taking line, maybe 20-30 yards. Remember in Jaws when the shark starts taking the bait very slowly, with the slow click, click of the drag ? Well that is what it was like. I still was not sure it was a fish. This went on about 5-6 times me chasing the fish by restarting the motor, getting over the fish and pumping to get it to move. It would just move slowly away after I got over it and started pumping. Actually I think it was moving back and forth from maybe two locations. This went on for about 40 minutes. A very tiring experience I can assure you. Was out there by myself with no boats to help me either. Knew the odds were way against me.

I was actually getting so tired that I almost cut the line and said the hell with it. I could tell it was starting to tire since I could raise it somewhat and got a quick look at its outline beneath the surface. It was a 5o to 60 inch fish and probably 50 pounds or more. Problem is the water in the flowage is stained from the peat swamps, like a tea color and visibility is only a couple of feet down.

Finally, I just said this is it, one last assault on this thing. I knew I was finally totally out of my league with a fish. I put all the pressure I could on it, I think it just said it is time to end this. She took off like a freight train, my reel was screaming, and then I saw the birds nest in my bait casting reel which had developed from all the chasing and pumping I put on to the fish. She was going hard and I could see the birds nest coming, I knew it was over, I just pointed my rod guides directly at the running fish and the 40 pound test popped like 2 pound test. I was beaten, my reel was trashed but what an experience.

That I am sure is going to be the most memorable fish story of my life. The world record musky was caught on the Chippewa Flowage very close to where I was fishing. That was caught back in the forties I think, was a 69 pound fish which is still the world record.

The experts said there was a huge musky hanging out at Petes Bar which people had hooked but no one could land.

Was this the fish I hooked, I don't know for sure, all I know it was the strongest fish I ever had on, and will be dreaming about the experience for the rest of my life.

Yes there were some witnessess which after I got back to the campground they acknowledged seeing me fighting the fish. They really could not have helped much though thinking about it in retrospect.

At that point in my Musky career I had been thinking about trying for them with a fly rod. After this experience I said forget the fly rod for this fish and never went further with that idea.

Perhaps a future encounter with a west coast 20 pound plus wild steelie on the fly will be the event which tops this one, I hope so


12-11-2001, 10:22 PM
That one's got to go into the fish stories thread!

12-12-2001, 12:01 AM
great muskie story. One of my goals is to catch one of those on the fly. Gearing myself up this winter to give em a go next spring. My parents live next to mayfield lake in SW washington which through plants in the 80s now hold 30lb fish. Also green lake in seattle holds muskies but they are only about 25 inches as they were only planted a few years ago. Plan to give them a go this spring after the rainbow trout plants.

The story also reminds me of growing up in Alaska fishing for pike. They were really the only large gamefish available and we had a pond that was infested with the toothy buggers. When I was around 10 years old we used to set a bunch of mouse traps the night before and get a dozen or so mice before we headed out to the dock in the morning.

Fly purists may want to stop reading now:hehe: .

Anyway we would take these dead mice and stuff them with insulation foam and lip them onto a bare hook. Then simply cast them and watch the party begin. Best topwater experience of my life. 40 inch pike would literally launch themselves out of the water attacking our floating mice. I have pictures of myself with pike almost as tall as me. Maybe not the most environment conscious angling I have ever done but I have no regrets.

I have now replaced my live baits with deer spun ones but hope the results are just the same one day. ;)


12-12-2001, 12:18 AM
Make sure you bring the camcorder, I want to see that video footage!

(not of the mice, the deer hair! :D)

12-12-2001, 08:53 PM

That top water pike technique was quite creative. There are tales of musky fisherman using live squirrels and ducklings on the top. Musky are a surface oriented fish as you probably know with their eye sockets angled upwards. I lost a few on the surface up in wisconsin, one scared the hell out of me and hit the surface plug just as I was picking it up for the next cast. Muskys will follow a lure a long way, thats why the figure 8 at the end of the cast works. The change of direction can coax a following musky into striking right in front of you. To fly fish them I think the best time to fish them would be in spring just after the spawn when they are somewhat congregated in shallow water.

After I lost that big one of a life time, I stopped Musky fishing and went back to steelhead and trout fly fishing. It had always been an objective since I was little kid to go Musky fishing. Northern wisconsin is like Musky Region USA. Really pretty country and lots of lakes with them. i will give musky a try again, since it is fun, and a good challenge like steelhead. However, I know I will never have another one like that one on again.

My body ached, I was bleeding, and just emotionally spent after fighting that fish. Wish I knew how big it really was.

Good luck !!

03-18-2002, 10:50 AM

See me post I made last November on the Big Musky lost on the Chippewa Flowage in Wisconsin back in the mid 90s.

Below is an article I found this weekend on the possible world record muskies that were seen on this area of the flowage over the past several years. They found the head of the big dead musky close to the "Petes Bar" area of the flowage where I lost my big one. Very famous area of the flowage.

See both articles referenced in the URL below. Who knows maybe I did have a possible world record musky on ? If so there was no way I would have ever been able to boat it myself. Now I know, I was not dreaming this epochal angling event, which to tell you the truth after it happened I was wondering if I had fell asleep drifting the flowage on a hot June day and it did not really happen.

Now I know it was reality. Awesome wilderness lake the flowage is ever get a chance get to the Wisconsin "North Woods" area. Also great trout and lake superior andramous fishing within an hour of the flowage.