In between pools

Dark in the morning. Dark earlier in the evening. Days are shortening. Fading light…

The brief afternoon light provides opportunity to locate a good trout. It’s your chance to sight-fish; your chance for one on a dry fly.

I have been hiking a few very low, clear Cutthroat rivers the past couple of weeks; walking the long distances between pools where there is very little holding water and therefore trout. I always pause in these sections when I see see a small area of slightly darker water, or what seems to be a slight depression in the river bed. A spot that is just a little deeper than the rest. Often it’s just two or three feet of slow moving water. Sometimes less.

Recently I paused and watched one of these spots after noticing a slight surface disturbance. The afternoon sun felt good and I knelt down on the sand and pebble rock and took a moment to absorb the heat, as I had been wet wading the ice-cold river for awhile. As I watched and warmed-up, a rise occurred. The fish displaced very little water. A small one. It was eating the few afternoon Blue Winged Olives that were riding the slow, shallow flow. I watched for awhile then noticed, just slightly beyond, another fish rise. It displaced more water. A better fish.

I side-arm cast to it down and across from my kneeling position and the trout slowly surfaced in full light and ate my small Olive impression.


It is a given that in low water conditions that Cutthroat trout, and trout in general, are going to be in the deep pools on a river. Catching them there is always an achievement especially late in the season after they have been fished-over for three plus months. However, finding a good one in between pools in the shallowest of water is for me much more special. It’s the location. A few trout found in the scarcest of water the past few weeks…

Long leaders, fine tippet and relatively small flies.

clear water, dog’s nose

4 thoughts on “In between pools

  1. Hi Bob,

    Had you been wearing waders, and not wet-wading that day, you may not have stopped to warm up at that location. The big fish might have gone unnoticed as it ate BWOs. It might be a good idea to continue to wet-wade for a while, at least a couple more weeks. I like the top photo of the river with the sparkling water and mountain ridge in the background. The cutthroat in the bottom photo is a great fish.


    • Vic: Yup, slowing down and pausing for a moment, intentionally or unintentionally, has its rewards when angling, and elsewhere. Too fast and you miss things. Easy to say, sometimes hard to do (go slow).
      I’m going to wet wade the Crow this winter and see if it improves my catch rate! Thanks for comment on photos.

  2. Love this time of year when you can hunt fish in the skinny stuff. Those look like such healthy fish. Slabs. Location is everything, and I’m seeing (and spooking) in-between fish down here on the big river too. One of the positives of sunny days, great visibility.

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