Don Allphin

Madisson Allphin, from Provo, with a very nice rainbow trout caught on a family trip to Flaming Gorge.

A reader asks: “Why don’t you tell us exactly where you fish? It would be nice to read your column or watch a video and go catch fish.”

I agree, that would be very nice. However, that scenario works best in dreams and not in real life. Here’s why.

Exact locations

Most of you know that I provide very detailed information about where to look for and how to find fish. Then, I share other information including but not limited to the depth of water, weather, time of day, time of year, baits and tackle that (if understood and applied) should lead you to fish.

Even knowing the exact locations, you still need to reason things out, adjust to conditions, and experiment to be able to locate and catch fish. A close friend has spent more time fishing with me than any other angler, including family. He has seen it all, every spot, every bait, every presentation, and he still struggles to catch fish.

After seeing behind the curtain, he still wants to fish in the exact locations (when he’s on his own) but tries to do so without recognizing that the “exact” location is just one of many factors dictating whether or not he (or I) will find and catch fish.

My desire for each of you (while fishing) is to quickly recognize the differences between points and flats, shallow and deep water, structure and vegetation, time of day and seasonal changes, bait colors and sizes, and various presentations. Then, I want you to experiment with each of these factors so you will know when to changes bait colors, fishing depths or types of retrieves or presentations. Once you learn how to read the conditions, you will be well on your way to catching more fish.

At times (as I have reported), I don’t catch fish. In fact, even in those times I catch a lot of fish, it may have taken several hours or even several trips to a specific lake, stream or reservoir to learn exactly how, where and when to fish to maximize success.

Time on the water

As some of you might know, I ran a small fishing publication (Bass West Magazine) for a few years close to 20 years ago. During that time, I hired an editor by the name of Cal Tutum. He had been involved in the publishing end of the fishing business for many years and even with all the how to articles published over time, he maintained that there was no short cut to becoming a better angler. “They can read or watch all they want but It’s all about spending time on the water,” he said.

Truer words have not been uttered. I argued the point several times back then but the longer I live the more I know that what Cal spoke was absolutely correct. You cannot become a successful fly angler by fishing a couple of times a year. You cannot consistently catch catfish without figuring out when they bite, where they roam, and the baits and presentations to use throughout the year. And, you will never break the code on catching huge Strawberry cutthroats, Lake Powell bass or stripers, or even Utah Lake white bass without spending significant time on the water.

Isn’t that what it’s all about? Don’t we purchase boats, waders, fish finders, tackle, pickup trucks, and ATVs to do just that — spend time on the water? My advice is straightforward. After reading how, where and when to fish, just get out and fish. The fact that you have taken the giant leap from a vicarious to a first-hand life will make you a much better angler.

They call it fishing and not catching because being with friends and family out enjoying Mother Nature, and even struggling to fool the fish, is far more fulfilling than staying home, living on your smartphones and catching fish on video games. Then, you too might choose not to share the exact spots you fish.