1) Big lures catch big fish!
2) Bigger/Heavier lines land bigger fish.
3) Bigger/More Stout rods handle trophy fish the best.
4) The Full Moon offers more light so has to be better fishing!
5) Catching Bigger Trout is more fun than puny 10 – 12 inchers.
6) Bigger Rafts/Float Tubes carry more gear.
In our quest to hunt down larger fish, sometimes we assume that a bigger fish has the capacity to, or just wants to strike/eat a larger lure or fly. Or we are afraid that if our line isn’t super strong we have no chance in landing Mr. Lunkerson. Then there is the misnomer that if the rod isn’t stiff or stronger we won’t get the hook set or be able to get a fish to the boat without the rod’s integrity becoming compromised. And we’ve even heard to be out on the water during a Full Moon as the bite is ridiculous! Lastly, we should have a couple of different rods and lures / flies aplenty, along with a net, pliers and an assortment of accoutrements that we absolutely must have ‘at-the-ready’ when put on the water.
Let’s debunk these lesser truths/myths to a degree. Yes, all the above statements “can be” true. But here are a few things to consider or at least ponder during times you are out on a high alpine lake, or any lake, stream or river for that matter:
Big fish are large for a reason. They are smart, wary and not as easily fooled. Whatever the fish are feeding on is your key to catching them. If you can ‘match the hatch’ and offer them something similar, your odds just may be better. If a lure/fly is larger than what is readily available, they may inspect it from below, unbeknownst to you, and turn away with a refusal as they suspect ‘something isn’t right’. Your odds of getting away with bigger lures are in the Fall when trophy fish are bulking up for the long winter.
If a fish senses something isn’t quite right about how your offering moves through or on the water, there is a good chance the line you are using is too heavy or even visible to the fish, causing them to spook. So, perhaps a lighter line to start is preferred, and even possibly using a less visible fluorocarbon over a more visible monofilament or braided line could be used?
Sometimes you cannot tell what a lure might be doing in the water. Could be because the rod is too stiff. Have you considered using a slightly more flexible rod with more sensitivity in the tip section? Not only might you be better aware of the lure’s action, but it could allow you to better ‘sense’ or ‘feel’ a change in the lure’s action, which could actually be a subtle take or strike that you may have otherwise missed or went unnoticed?
Science tells us that during the phase of a Full Moon bugs tend to hatch in the largest quantities. More Bugs = More Food For Fish To Choose From; hence, the probability of you getting their attention and eliciting a strike is greatly reduced.
Solution: Your chances to catch bigger fish greatly improve during the following times: between the 2 days prior to a 1/4 moon to 2 days following a 1/4 moon. The reason is because there is less of a bug hatch during this time, and fish are hungrier, generally.
Without a doubt it is fun to catch a trophy fish. There’s just something that gets the adrenaline pumping when your line goes taut with the hookup of Mr. Lunkerson. However, the lake, stream or river you may try fishing may not hold large fish. So how could that be fun?
You can make it fun by changing your gear. Try an ultralight spinning set up with a limber rod. Or if you are a fly fisherman, you could drop down to a 3 wt or even 2 wt fly rod, and 5X or smaller tippet! Catching a 10″ fish on light gear is a rush, and loads of fun! Even small fish have to be played well and finessed when fishing with light gear and light lines.
Lastly, if you have a ‘game plan’ for your day’s fishing trip, you should be able to consolidate your gear. If you have a long hike to your fishing destination, unless you are treating it as a training hike, learn to simplify and go lighter; not necessarily ultralight, just lighter. Secondly, having every lure/fly choice available to mankind doesn’t mean you need to carry it all with you, or that you will catch fish. If you talk to seasoned High Lakes/backcountry fisherman and fisherwomen, most of them have their same two or three “go-to” favorite lures/flies that always catch fish. How is this you ask? Simple. Sometimes a fisherman just has confidence in a past and proven winner! But also, catching fish is about locating the depth where the fish are on a particular day. And once they are located, finding how fast or how slow (the presentation) they want your lure/fly to be retrieved, which coincides with how much or how little the fish are willing to exert to take your offering.