Instant Master? - Interview of a exceptional fisherman

What constitutes mastery in a sport like fishing? It must have something to do with the ability to catch a lot of fish or big fish.

I've fished with someone who should qualify although he only started fly fishing the surf last year after having fished with conventional gear the year before. Would landing more than 2000 Barred Perch in the 2002 season be sufficient evidence? That would average over 40 perch a day over more then 50 trips during the prime season. He does not consider himself a master. He feels that he has a lot of learning ahead and does keep a detailed journal to help him track his progress and learning.

Something about his nature makes him a natural-born fisherman. He CANNOT cast into low probability water. This stands out from the fisheries that he targets, the time and places he targets as well as each and every cast he makes.

I've seen him with Polaroid glasses on before sunrise. He put them on so that he will not have to break his focus to do it later. He is all about getting the most action by casting into high probability waters as many times as he can all day! There are other times where he is into a school way out. Rather than fish all the way in, he fishes through high probability water then ultra-high speed retrieves so he can cast again. He gets twice as many casts through high probability water this way.

Whether you agree or not that he is a master, this interview gives you insight into catching a lot of fish.

  1. What motivates you?

    I just like fishing. Perch fishing is close and doesnít take all day. The fish are not big but you can expect to catch a reasonable number of fish and it is fun.

  2. What is the first step to learning how to catch lots of perch?

    The first thing is to look for good structure such as large holes and cuts. Check out as many beaches as you can that are close together. Fish the one with the most structure. Donít forget that you must have good line control or you may not catch fish.

  3. How do you decide where to cast?

    I always try to pick the best water available for the location or situation. I will cast to seams, cuts, and edges of dirty water or low spots first. A Low Spot would be the area behind a bar where the water breaks consistently. I believe this area is slightly lower than the flats behind it (on your side). Itís kind of like a mini trough or cut with only one edge. To me the water always looks a little different there. I try not to cast to flat areas on purpose or areas not connected to some kind of structure.

  4. What is key to a good cast?

    A good cast is straight, under control and placed where you want it. A long cast into a wave in the right location is wasted. If you ever get the cast under control it will be out of the fishing zone. A cast with a large belly is also out of control, you are guessing where the fly is and if you do get a hit you have to hope it sticks.

  5. How far do you have to cast?

    As far as you can and still maintain line control. Most of my fishing is probably done at 60-70 foot range or closer. There are many conditions when I wished I could make those 90-100 foot casts to reach a trough behind a bar or the outside edge of a cut or other feature. As the tide rises you need to make longer and longer casts until you can no longer reach a cut, drop off, trough, or hole. If the surf is rough you need to make long casts just to reach any structure.

  6. What are your favorite times of day and tide conditions? Weather? Favorite water to fish?

    My favorite time of the day is early in the morning after sunrise. I could start fishing 0.5 to 1 Hour earlier but donít find it necessary since there are and have been plenty of fish this year. Low tides are always good since it will show where all the structure will probably be and it concentrates fish. However, I like a mid to low tide coming off a high tide the best. I feel that lots of fish have come in with high tide and will be feeding and moving out as the tide drops. On the incoming tide you must catch the fish as they move in and therefore fewer fish since all the fish have not come in. By the time you reach a low tide most of the fish have left, so fewer fish.

    I like the surf to be as rough as I can stand. I don't like to fish in calm or small surf. Rough surf usually means large fish. Calm surf equals small fish as a general rule.

    Any kind of weather is OK. Light rain is OK but I prefer not to fish in heavy rains or fish after the surf has been very rough because of the weed problem."

    My favorite water would be a large hole with a major cut or drop off with a minor cut running near the shore and bar about 100-150 feet from the shore. I have almost always found larger than normal sized perch under these conditions.

  7. What is most important in detecting bites?

    Probably a tight line. Line control is a must. However, I donít know how to teach it. I know there have been many situations where I know someone was getting bit but they didnít know it.

  8. How does a bite feel?

    This is a question everyone asks. I really donít know how to describe it. I have been in many situations where I know I am getting bites and someone fishing next to me has no idea there are fish around. The first question from your fishing buddy is: "whatís it feel like?". If the fish is hooked, itís easy. But most of the time I think it is just a tick, movement of the line, weight coming off the line, rod tip jumps, the line stops, feeling of the line dragging bottom, line starts to snug up or just something different from the norm. I donít know if you could teach what a bite is. I think you just need to spend time on the water.

  9. What is the best way to set the hook? When? How?

    I normally donít bother to set the hook on purpose. If it gets set it is from a strip set. I always point the rod where the line is and strip. Hopefully there is no slack. As long as there is no slack in the line the fish canít get loose. The only time I will try to set up on a perch is if I have lost 3 or 4 fish in a row. I concentrate on the next fish on and try to strip set and raise the rod tip at the same time. However, I really think the problem is I get lazy and do not have the line under control and tight.

  10. What do you think about as you retrieve?

    I should concentrate more on line control and holding the line in case of a bite. However, I usually look ahead to decide where the next cast will be made.

  11. What do you think about as you land a fish?

    Keep the line tight. If the line is tight the fish cannot get away even with out the hook being set. The rest you canít control except for too much pressure. You can straighten light wire hooks or break lines or knots that are poorly tied or weak.

  12. How do you decide to pursue a fishery - like fishing for perch in the surf? Or stripers in Frank's Tract?

    I like to fish close to home to minimize travel time and fish for something I can expect to catch in some reasonable numbers. Stripers are my favorite. They can be caught in the Bay, Delta, take a fly and pull back. I started fishing for perch the last two years after striper season ends in the delta. It is close, takes only half a day and there are a reasonable number of perch you can catch.

  13. Will you ever stop fly fishing in the surf? Is there any end goal?

    I donít know. If something comes along that is close to home and bigger such as Halibut or Black Bass I might. I havenít figured out how to handle the strong winds between April and September with my little boat. I have no end goals. I just like to fish.

  14. What limits your ability to catch a lot of fish?

    Mostly what I donít know, line control and concentration. It is hard to stay focused all day.

  15. Is fly fishing the best method for catching a lot of fish? For catching big fish?

    If I just wanted to catch lots of fish I would use conventional tackle. Bait casting and spinning rods. If Iím having a really hard time finding fish I will use grubs and lures to locate fish. Once Iím convinced there are fish around I would then go to the Fly Rod and try to figure things out. I don't know how to catch big fish except to use big flies and fish bigger water.

  16. Why do you fly fish then?

    Itís like fishing. I just like to do it. You donít catch as many fish as you can with conventional gear but it seems more rewarding. Itís not something everyone does. Itís different.

  17. What flies are best?

    The fly you have confidence in. I think perch will hit almost any thing that they can get in their mouth. All the flies I have used catch fish. I think orange works best. I probably shouldnít say that because I havenít used many flies.

  18. Why do you use only one fly pattern?

    I think perch are very aggressive. They seem to hit any thing that comes by. I only use the one fly pattern since it seems to catch perch under all conditions. I catch enough fish to satisfy myself.

  19. What is the best way to get better and better at numbers and catching big fish?

    To get better you need line control. Iím miles away from really good line control. Learn to read the water. Fish structure and moving water. I donít know how to catch big fish. However, big perch seem to school together and stay in the same relative area. Stay in that area even if you donít catch as many fish as areas with smaller fish.

  20. Do you tie variations in your flies? What do you vary and when do you decide to tie variations?

    I tie the same fly, a version of the
    FC Sand Shrimp Jr. The only change I make is size of hook, overall length or bulk. I go with a #6 hook and a fly length of about 1.5" to 1.75" for the majority of fishing. There was a time this year that I thought there were so many fish that I went to a #4 hook and 2" to 2.25" fly. That kept me from catching almost all perch smaller than 8"-9". The fly is very bulky

  21. What's more important: a lot of fish or big fish? What do you go after? Why?

    I usually decide before I start fishing. If fishing conditions are good and fish were on the large size the last time out I would probably up size on my flies and go for larger fish and pass on the smaller perch. If fishing was slow or the tide or fishing conditions arenít good I would go with the standard fly and catch as many as I can. If in doubt I stay with my standard #6 hook. I donít target large fish. I like to catch a reasonable number of fish.

  22. Is there anything that is really important in the gear that you use? Rigging?

    I think every thing is pretty basic in perch fishing. You donít need any thing fancy or expensive. If there were something important, I would say the shooting line. Use one you that like and resists tangling. I use the 0.024-inch Rio Clear Intermediate line. I plan to try the 0.30-inch Rio and the Airflo Polyshoot next year.

  23. Why do you rigorously count your fish?

    I count fish to give me a reference point & record of how I am doing. I have discovered that most people's memories are very poor. Numbers do not lie or stretch the truth, only people and their memories. Also I never know what lots, a few and some are. I keep a diary of my fishing and can use it for reference whenever I want to check something.

  24. Aren't you concerned about hurting too many fish?

    Yes, it is always in the back of my mind. I have gone through a number of different ways to release and remove the hook from perch. I use a curved forceps for fish that are hooked deep. I donít worry about the fly and just grab it in the best location I can and push down very rapidly without holding the fish. The hook will almost always come out. If you can grab the fly with 2 fingers you can usually remove it easily by pushing towards the hook point and back or rotating the hook towards the hook point. Also tie all your flies on a hook with a small barb or remove it. During the early part of the season I was concerned we were catching too many fish. I tried to limit my catch to 30 perch. However since my fishing partner continued to fish, I needed to do something and so I also continued to fish. It did reduce my catch some for a while.

  25. Do you have bad days? How do you deal with them?

    Every body has bad days. Some times every thing just seems to go wrong. After being irritated for a couple hours I usually just accept it as a bad day and try to get back to basics. Fish cut, holes, troughs and stay away from flat open spaces.



Questions or Comments Contact: Glenn Yoshimoto
glenn@zenflyfishing.com
Los Gatos, California

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