Warning Tight Water, Roll Cast Only...On a stream I visited for the first time this summer I met a fish that I have since named George.  We met on a summer afternoon, if I remember correctly it was August and the fall run of BWO’s were on. This was the first time I had fished this stream so every turn was a new experience. I made my way through the jungle, thick in the summer, and came upon a series of run/holes that provided good opportunities to take trout. On the last hole I saw rising trout and I rigged a BWO dry. At the time I didn’t asses my position or the water, I just started swinging.  I eventually got the fly to the trout and when I did I saw George. He launched out of the water, scared the hell out of me causing me to lose the hook set. I just stopped, slack jawed, calmed down and was about to attempt another cast but as I was about to a random dog decided to run through the stream putting down George and his friends. I vividly remember walking up to see the fish and seeing a very large 24″+ trout. At the time I thought the red belly was a brook but now, after seeing him multiple times I know he is a brown. 

Since that first meeting I have seen him everytime I visit his stream. As of recently he has been a goal of mine but the task is difficult and here is why. He is obviously the dominant trout in his hole and he is accompanied by over a hundred other trout most of which are 10-14″ so making George the target is tough. After the last few times of visiting the stream I have taken several pictures of his home and studied his habits. I know he has three primary feeding stations, the first two put him in a very difficult presentation position and the third puts him smack in the middle of the competition.

George's Hole

Unless George is rising to flies he is going to be a challenge considering the tree that hangs less than two feet over the water and crosses the two feeding position he sits in the most. I know this because I sat with him for over two hours just observing. I put him down when I approached where I was planning to observe from but I was patient and waited…after twenty minutes he came out of his rock hidy hole which I’m sure has helped him survive to this point, that and the obstacles nature put in my way.

                  Feeding Stations            3rd Feeding Station

Like I said, he has three feeding stations. The primary two are on either side of the main flow as it rounds the rocks. Looking upstream he likes the position to the right of the seam more I think, this is the one I always see him leaving when I poke my head down to see him. The position to the left of the seam has him pinned next to the rock outcropping you see sticking out into the pool. The third position is located further back in the pool directly in the center, I think he only sits here when he is really relaxed or taking dry flies but I’m not an expert, I’m just observing.

With that said, the depth of this has to be between 4-5feet and the flow around the rocks is strong. Since he sits so far forward an approach from behind is tough for a few reasons. 1st, roll cast zone. 2nd, the log preventing your fly from hitting the water far enough infront of him to sink to him before it gets pushed behind him. 3rd, there are so many other trout in this hole that with the crystal clear water all the time you push the trout forward as you move forward, if you do this too much it makes the hole go twitchy because they become packed like sardeens, they know something is up.

Opposite SideAn approach from either bank is difficult because of the trees/other foliage and the fact that by the time you get in position you’ve given away your location to all the other trout and they scatter, as they do that he saunders into his hidy hole to return only when things relax. So the best two ideas I have are the following: approach from in front and let a weighted leech pattern deep drift in the flow around the rock and hope he picks it up first. If he does then you have an issue because this trout isn’t going to lay down at your feet. He is going to tweek, running your line downstream and under the log. I’m not opposed to swiming for this fish, I’m just saying from this perspective it seems almost required.

George's HoleThe second approach involves sitting directly next to the log on the right side of the seam looking upstream. This is the position that I have observed him from. If you sit next to the log on the downstream side he is half under the log in feeding positions 1/2 and cannot see you, from here I basically tried jigging my leech infront of his nose getting no responce whatsoever. I tired for quite some time but to no avail so I let him be, knowing I would be returning for the photo that I want  soon.

p.s. I think we are going to try to get him this evening.


  1. thanks for blow by blow. george sounds like a real challenge. went to Viroqua on Saturday to the Driftless Angler and then to the Hiawatha TU banquet. explored Trout Run. looking forward to warm weather.

    best of luck

    avatar tom stevens
  2. Cool post. I saw my own George in a creek outside of Viroqua last fall. Couldn’t believe my own eyes at the size of this thing. 24+ easy. Next time I get down there I’ll be doing some serious stalking.

    avatar Bill
  3. Go in there at night and toss a deer hair mouse or bass-sized black Dahlberg diver on him. You’ll know when he strikes. This rarely fails. A t-bone is far more likely to get George’s attention than jelly beans.

  4. A highly enjoyable read, this is one of your best posts! Keep the fish stories coming, big or small. Have you read the Gordon Macquarrie trilogy? there’s some great stories in there.

    Thanks again for the posts and the how-tos

    avatar Jay
  5. Pingback: Justin Carroll (looking, really looking; then learning) « SwittersB & Fly Fishing

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