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McjamesApril 17th, 2008, 6:24 am
Cortland Manor, NY

Posts: 139
the last 2 times i have been out, almost ALL the fish I have caught have come from the head of the run/pool I am fishing, very few strikes from the tail of the pool... All the fish have been browns. Do certain species prefer specific locales? is it a seasonal thing? maybe i'm just too sloppy to fool 'em in the slower water?
I am haunted by waters
TroutnutApril 17th, 2008, 8:54 am
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2727
Fish in the head of the pool get first crack at food coming down from the riffle, so they get to eat that food before another fish does and before it settles down to the bottom in the slower water. My experience has been that fish are more likely to be in the tail if some bugs are hatching or active in the pool and are being concentrated and delivered at an ideal speed down there.

A major focus of my graduate research is the question of why drift-feeding fish are where they are. I'm specifically focusing on much smaller fish (fingerling Chinook salmon), but I'm making a lot of use of this paper by my advisor, Nick Hughes, and a couple colleagues:

Hayes, J. W., Hughes, N. F., & Kelly, L. H. (2007). Process-based modelling of invertebrate drift transport, net energy intake and reach carrying capacity for drift-feeding salmonids. Ecological Modelling, 207, 171-188.

Anyone with access to journal articles (through a university library website or something) should go look that paper up -- it's really interesting. It gives mathematical predictions of how many trout will be in a pool and where they'll be. It's not something you can go out and apply in real time as you fish, but it's an interesting test of some simple explanations for why trout feed where they do.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
McjamesApril 18th, 2008, 6:02 am
Cortland Manor, NY

Posts: 139
wow thanks for that answer. soon I'll have to pack a laptop in the vest and run monte carlo simulations for each pool before taking a cast. what a cool topic to be doing graduate research on.
I am haunted by waters
TroutnutApril 21st, 2008, 10:39 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2727
It is really cool. Before grad school, I spent all my time playing around in a river with cameras and programming a computer. During grad school, I'm spending all my time playing around in a river with cameras and programming a computer. It's a good deal.

If you want to pack a laptop in your fishing vest, I recommend the Panasonic Toughbook CF-30. It's a little big for a vest pocket, but you can pour a bucket of water over it and run it over with a car and it'll keep on working. We're getting one for this research project, along with a lot of other fun high-tech surveying gear, cameras, and sensors.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
MartinlfApril 22nd, 2008, 2:22 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3176
My experience suggests that spinners also sometimes concentrate fish in the tail of a pool.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
CaseyPApril 22nd, 2008, 5:56 pm
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653 can autumn leaves...went to a favorite pool one October day and had no luck casting up to the usual spot. put my foot in the pool next the leaves that had got caught at the bottom of the pool and all the fish skedaddled away over my boots...
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
PaulRobertsApril 14th, 2012, 10:08 am

Posts: 1776
Great topic. Will re-visit as time allows.

The best way to assess where trout are actually holding in a pool is by direct observation, which isn't always possible. I make use of bridges, high banks, and have even climbed trees. Researchers build observation towers and I've always wanted to do that. I for one could be quite happy in such a set up.

Trying to assess that by casting is difficult in large part bc different parts of a pool fish best with different rigs and methods. Also, the head of the pool is often easier to fish simply bc those fish are tougher to spook and usually have good obvious current tongues to ply.

That said, as Jason describes, fish use the head of pools, esp in smaller streams, bc that's often where the greatest rate of capture of food items is -and there is competition for those holds. I often describe the riffles as a trout stream's kitchen, the pool basin the living room, and the head riffs the dining room. Tailouts can serve as dining rooms too, in certain situations.

Things that can affect trout location in a pool are competition with other trout, flow level, current speed, insect activity, and angling pressure.
WiflyfisherApril 14th, 2012, 10:56 am

Posts: 649
Sometimes they are in places we least expect. I could hear the gulping noise and I kept looking around and finally spotted these two big fish near the tail of the pool under a tree on the far bank.

John S.
PaulRobertsApril 14th, 2012, 11:41 am

Posts: 1776
Fun clip. Never tire of seeing that.

That's actually a pretty classic location for browns: a "cushion" to hold against, such as at tailouts, or little "wing dams" right along shore -even better with overhead cover. Lotsa anglers spook such fish. I pretty commonly find browns in shallow, sometimes nearly still, spots right along the bank, revealed by water movement or dimpling rises. Pays to observe.

Conversely, I rarely find rainbows using such slow or close to shore spots, they being more current oriented and appreciative of deeper more open waters (although small ones seem to dominate the very shallowest extremes of head riffs). Larger bows also seem to have a penchant for more laminar flow, and I could target them in mixed brown/bow streams by finding large long runs with laminar flow and fishing run center.
WiflyfisherApril 14th, 2012, 12:27 pm

Posts: 649

I have noticed large rainbows bank feeding in simular type locations on the Henry's Fork. I love to watch the bank feeders gulping in the spinners!
John S.
PaulRobertsApril 14th, 2012, 12:51 pm

Posts: 1776
Hey John,

Goes to show that its a big world with lotsa possibilities. I suppose there are tendencies within fish, but the details remain to be seen. Good stuff.
WiflyfisherApril 14th, 2012, 4:56 pm

Posts: 649
Hey John,

Goes to show that its a big world with lotsa possibilities. I suppose there are tendencies within fish, but the details remain to be seen. Good stuff.

I always try to think not to rule out any possible lies. Sometimes too it's not the water flow as much as the wind that dictates the best feeding locations for gathering in the food.
John S.

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