by Tony Jelinek – Fishmaster, Rivers & Streams
There is nothing like the excitement of finishing the hike into what you hope to be that magical fishing spot on the river. As you draw nearer, you can hear the stream and the flow of adrenalin starts to increase. Then you get a glimpse of the river, and boy does that look like some great fishy water. As you break out of the forest, you see the perfect spot on the river and can’t wait to get your line wet and enjoy the excitement of that first strike. You are entirely focused on the spot and beeline it there and make that initial cast. Hmmm, no strike. You start moving upstream hunting fish in the seams and pocket water that the river offers. After a while of fishing, no matter how your catching success has been that day, it is time to head back. You do and start looking for the break in the forest where you came out. But, all you see is forest and brush. Is that the rock where I started? I think I remember that pool? Didn’t I come out just before that large tailwater?
This feeling of not knowing where the trail is located is not a fun one. If you just take a few extra seconds to be aware of your surroundings and take note of a few key features, you will have a much more enjoyable day.
Follow these few easy and quick steps:
- Take a breath and be patient. Do not rush out to the river/stream
- Take note of your surroundings. Are there any distinctive bushes, trees, or visible topographical changes that you can see?
- Thanks to the river/stream you have a pre-existing navigational tool – a handrail. A handrail is something that parallels your course.
- Thanks, also, to the rocks and stones along or in the river/stream you have the tools to make a traditional trail marking device, a cairn, or a stack of rocks.
- When you stand with your body perpendicular to the river/stream what distinguishing features do you see that line you up with the trail? Take note of these.
- When you stand with your body perpendicular to the river/stream, build a cairn that is easily visible and in-line with you and the trail entrance. For greater accuracy build two cairns that line-up with each other and you as the 3rd point, so that you can look along that line and see the trail entrance
- If the water is too high and you are wading, note the trees, ridge, and other distinguishing features that line up with you when you stand in the water perpendicular to the bank and in-line with the trail entrance.
Take a little extra time at the beginning, and you will save yourself time and possible panic at the end of the day after a tiring and exciting day of fishing.