Stillwater Essentials: How to Find Fish With Phil Rowley

How to Find Fish
Table of Contents

Ever wondered how to spot fish in the open waters of a lake? As summer approaches and anglers head to the water, the challenge isn’t just about casting your line but knowing where to cast it. Today, we’re breaking down Phil Rowley’s proven techniques for finding fish in stillwaters. Whether you’re gearing up for your first season or you’re an experienced angler, these practical tips will turn your next fishing trip into a success. Let’s get right into it!

Understanding the Lake’s Environment

The first step to stillwater fly fishing is understanding how lakes differ from rivers. In rivers, currents naturally guide fish and their food, making it easier to predict where fish might be. In contrast, lakes lack these directing currents. Here, fish continuously roam in search of three key things: comfort, protection, and food. Learning to read these signs and understanding the lake’s ecology can dramatically increase your chances of a successful catch.

Comfort Factors for Trout

For trout, comfort primarily hinges on water temperature and oxygen levels, which are both vital for their metabolism. Ideal water temperatures range from 50°F to 65°F, as this is where trout are most active, and their metabolic functions, such as feeding and digesting, are optimized. To locate these optimal conditions, anglers can use tools like thermometers or sounders to measure temperature at various depths. Furthermore, look for areas that are rich in aquatic vegetation. These places are beneficial because they not only provide oxygen but also improve the overall habitat, making them attractive spots for trout.

Finding Protection in the Lake

Finding the right spots in a lake where fish feel safe enough to feed is crucial. Protective features like weed beds, points of land, and submerged structures serve as natural cover for trout. To effectively locate these features, you can utilize tools such as Google Maps, Google Earth, and bathymetric maps. These resources help you scout structural elements even before you arrive at the lake. Once there, paying attention to how the land meets the water can reveal a lot; the slope of the shoreline suggests whether the underwater terrain is shallow or deep, which are key indicators of where fish might be active.

Food Sources in Stillwaters

For trout, the presence of food is the final piece of the puzzle. Weed beds are often likened to a grocery store for fish due to the wide variety of food sources they harbor. To maximize your fishing success, it’s important to understand the types of insects or prey that thrive in the lake throughout the year. This knowledge will inform your choice of flies to use. Additionally, using tools like throat pumps to examine what trout have recently eaten can provide direct insights into their current feeding habits, allowing for a more focused and effective fly selection.

Utilizing Your Observational Skills

If you want to be successful fly fishing in lakes, the importance of observation cannot be overstated. Take the time to really look around as you fish. Check out the condition of the shoreline, the activity of birds overhead, and the techniques of other anglers, as this can all offer valuable insights. For instance, swallows darting over the water often signal insect hatches, which are a key time when trout are actively feeding. By watching and learning from anglers who are catching fish, you can adapt their successful tactics to improve your own approach.

Effective Fishing Strategies

With the right information in hand, adopting a strategic approach to fishing becomes crucial. One of the most important tips to remember is not to remain static in one spot for too long. If you’re not having success, consider moving slightly – perhaps just two cast lengths – to a new position every 15 to 30 minutes. For a more comprehensive search, techniques like trolling or using a drogue to drift and control your movement across the water can be highly effective. These methods allow you to explore larger areas and enhance your likelihood of encountering fish.

Final Thoughts on Stillwater Fly Fishing

Ultimately, stillwater fly fishing opens up a new chapter of adventure in the great outdoors. But remember, it’s not just about casting your line – it’s about understanding the whole ecosystem and learning to read the subtle cues that nature provides. This approach not only increases your catch but enriches your entire fishing experience, connecting you more deeply with the environment. 

If you’re ready to take your skills further, check out the “Stillwater Essentials with Phil Rowley” online course. Under Phil’s expert guidance, you’ll explore every aspect of fly fishing in lakes, from entomology to rigging, presentation, and boat setup. Perfect for anglers at any level, this masterclass is packed with insights that will transform the way you fish.

Plus, as a bonus, gain access to our “Chironomid Fishing Masterclass with Brian Chan” for a limited time! This additional class further expands your understanding and techniques, ensuring you’re well-equipped for success in any lake setting. Start your comprehensive fly fishing education today and make each cast count!

Picture of Anchored Outdoors

Anchored Outdoors

Anchored Outdoors is an ever-growing network of fly fishing experts who’ve been brought together by podcaster and fellow outdoorswoman, April Vokey.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related Stories

In this episode of Anchored, we discuss the ins and outs of podcasting, what drives Dave’s passion to release three episodes a week, how he finds his guests, and so much more!
How Rick turned from medical student to full-time fishing guide, his exciting discovery of steelhead in lesser known streams, our upcoming trip at his lodge in Wrangell, AK, and more!
Designed specifically to help anglers cover greater distances with more precision, Trout Spey can significantly increase your likelihood of a hookup on pressured rivers and hard to reach places. Whitney Gould shares insights on why a Trout Spey rod could be the ideal addition to your fishing gear.