The old Stick and Move is a practice that I have been using for years. My fly fishing brother Jerry Vigil and I kind of came up with this concept as a plan of attack to scout water we haven’t been to in a while, or new water we haven’t seen before. We started doing this mainly to see where fish where holding in a given drainage for our coming guided trips. The Stick and Move also helps to put less pressure on areas we might be guiding in the days ahead. This practice is great for guides but you can also adapt it to your game even if you are not a guide. I’m going to give you an example on how this works from our recent trip to the Arkansas River.
I haven’t been to the Ark in a while. I usually guide a private section in the fall but I wanted to check out some public water for trips that I have coming up. First check the maps of the river area you want to fish. This is very important to see where public and private areas are and where the access points are. If you do your homework your transitions from spot to spot will be easier. Since I can’t remember all the access points I built a tactical plan on how we’re going to attack each spot we stopped. I got maps from the Colorado Parks website and Google Maps to set up my plan. The map you see to the left is very informative for the area from where we started. I always snap a pick of these types of things and add them to my fishing report. Things like this not only help you when you are there but also on future trips to that river.
Next thing I did was choose the first place to start the Stick and Move. I had already decided that we would fish the middle basin because of the different fishing reports I had read. As we were driving down the river we decided to check out an easement section at the lowest point of the section we were fishing that day. I did a quick scan of the area looking for runs, contours and grade changes in the river. I also checked for good holding areas for our trout friends. I decided it looked good enough to try so we headed out and split up in our usual pattern. V and I have been fly fishing together for years so we don’t have to say anything to each other; we just fan out and cover a shit ton of water.
The Stick and Move doesn’t just apply to physically moving to different access points, it also applies on the river while fishing. I want to fish as much water as possible in any given access point. If you get stone footed like a lot of anglers I have seen on the water (which is bullshit in my opinion!) you can’t see all that the river has to offer. It’s the “move your ass” concept. In the case of the Ark we fished; Indicator nymph rigs, Euro Nymph Rigs, Dry Dropper, Dropper Rigs, and Streamer rigs. In each run we would hit it with a couple different methods and then move on. If I stuck a fish it would go right back into the run I pulled it from. This is to not disturb as much as possible the trout’s natural feeding patterns. You might think this is bat shit crazy but trust me after years on the water I have come to find out this works very well. I kept moving and checked runs and areas that looked fishy. On this day the first section of river didn’t fish very well and we weren’t seeing much fish and bug activity so we decided to move to the next access point.
We arrived at the next access point a couple miles away and did a quick scan of the river again and checked a couple maps. Heading to the water we found a wonderful run and hit it with all the different methods and did well. Now, this run was about 200 yards long and we broke it down into smaller pieces and covered the whole thing. We found where all the fish were holding and how they were feeding. We also didn’t put a bunch of pressure on it, we caught a fish and then moved to the next section of the run. We continued to work the different areas for a couple hours because it was a big access point. We felt that we covered it pretty thoroughly and moved to the next access point.
We covered a bunch more access points in the same manner throughout the day and we learned a lot. Some access points we didn’t even fish, we scanned them and made notes for future trips to the river. Some of the places we went were gorgeous and had never seen them before. It always pays to get out of that comfort zone. Going to those same places you always go doesn’t expand your learning curve in fly fishing so try new spots as much as possible. I find it rewarding and with all the pressure on our fisheries it always pays to have options.
There are a few things to remember with the stick and move. One of those things to remember is this, I haven’t talked about taking seines yet. This is very important in each section I found different bugs that where active in the water. In some sections midges were moving around and in other sections mayflies were more active. It’s good practice to check out the bug life in each section, especially a big river drainage like the Ark. Another thing to remember with the stick and move is to be flexible. Don’t be so hell bent on the fishing part. Take your time and enjoy the day for what it is. I could give two shits if I caught a fish when I’m covering a bunch of water. Remember that it is an educational exercise when your applying the Stick and Move, not a contest to see who can catch the most damn fish. If you have a good mind set that “I’m here to learn today” you will never go wrong with the stick and move.
One last thing for my guide buddies out there. I will even apply this system with clients on the river on heavy pressure days. Typically it helps and we can get after fish that people have either missed or fish that have been pushed out of the big runs.
As always please leave me any questions or comments. Thanks for checking the blog out and take care.