A First Time Trout Fisher’s Perspective

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The cool, crisp morning air gusted across my face as the boat sped past docks and fellow anglers who were also searching for the perfect fishing spot. The weather, cool at first, warmed up to a comfortable and sunny 60 degree day by the afternoon.

This nearly perfect setting was my ‘office’ for a few days while CFM hosted a media camp at Lilleys’ Landing. It was quite the experience. I got to meet so many influential outdoor writers and photographers, and got to know sponsors working for companies that support conservation.

Before that week, I had never been trout fishing before. In fact, my only fishing experience is a distant memory of sitting on the side of a pond with my dad, which was probably a good 18 years ago. I was in desperate need of some practice, to say the least.


I was slow to catch anything at first. My fellow anglers in the pontoon were Spencer Turner, a retired MDC fisheries research biologist, Stephen Matt from G3 boats and fishing guide Don House. They all had the obvious advantage of fishing more recently than almost two decades ago. After some coaching, waiting and chatting, I finally felt that small tug at the line.

Instead of basking in the victory of catching my first fish, I watched this one swim away, along with the next two that tugged at my line. My supportive boat mates thought I wasn’t setting the hook and tutored me for my next bite.

By the time my next bite came, I was ready. I quickly set the hook and reeled in my first trout! It didn’t come easy, but it was an exciting feeling of triumph when I finally reeled in that first fish.

I learned a few important things as a first time trout fisher:

Set the hook.                                                                                                                    No matter how excited you are to reel in a fish once you feel it tug at the line, you have to set the hook. It took a few missed fish for this to really stick in my mind. My initial instinct was to reel, but you will be sorely disappointed when that fish swims away if you don’t remember to set the hook.


Fly fishing is harder than it looks.                  I know that it looks easy to toss that thin piece of line over your head and into the water, but it really isn’t. Trust me. I spent one afternoon learning to fly fish and I barely skimmed the surface of the sport. You will not be graceful while learning to cast, and you will embarrassingly hook yourself (in my case, multiple times). Patience is key. If you take the time to really practice, it is an incredible feeling once you do a few semi-successful casts.


Relax.                                                                                                                                  Trout fishing is not rocket science. Pay attention to the rod, go with your gut and have some patience. I realized half the fun of fishing is enjoying the environment and chatting with friends while you wait for a bite. If you relax and simply appreciate the fresh air, fishing will be a great experience – whether you catch some fish or not.

emma fishThere is nothing better than the sense of accomplishment you feel when you catch your first fish. You would think that after catching a few fish the excitement would dwindle and the monotony would set in – but it doesn’t. Fish after fish, you still get a thrill from that feeling of success.

Although nervous at first, I fell into a rhythm and soon felt like an old pro catching fish after fish. Turns out, trout fishing on a rare 60 degree day in January isn’t too shabby.


Emma Kessinger


Winter trout fishing won’t disappoint. Read about tips and tricks here.


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