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"The Mobile Angler" Story & Photos by Scott Haugen


If you stop and think about it, mobility is often the key to catching more fish.

Be it salmon, trout, or steelhead, accessing waters that aren’t pressured by fellow anglers is often where many fish are caught. Sure, there are populated fishing holes where these fish congregate, thus anglers gather, but if you want to escape those places and experience a more tranquil fishing experience, stay mobile.

“Yeah, but you have a boat,” is often the reply I get when sharing photos with fellow anglers, or delivering fishing seminars, or sharing how-to magazine articles.

Yes, I do have a boat, and why? To access more water.

You don’t need a high-dollar boat with a motor, or even a drift boat, for that matter.

Pontoon boats allow you to quietly and efficiently cover a great deal of water, even water that drift boats can’t reach.

Pontoon boats allow you to quietly and efficiently cover a great deal of water, even water that drift boats can’t reach.

This time of year, water levels are at their lowest, and warm water temperatures often find fish gathering in specific areas. Accessing these areas can be done in pontoon boats, rafts, even by foot on some rivers and lakes. If fishing from shore, pay attention to and respect private properties.

If fishing for salmon, trout, or steelhead and you’re not getting any bites, despite offering them enticing presentations, then move. Where you move depends on what your mode of transportation may be.

When my buddies and I were in high school, we’d often float the local river in inner tubes. Though our goal was recreation and seeking relief from the hot summer sun, often we’d have our trout rods with us.

We’d take a couple of lures along, and a stringer tied around the tube, and that was it. Simple.

The number of trout we caught from these tubing outings was impressive and memorable. Why, because we were all by ourselves on a beautiful river, accessing skinny water anglers couldn’t reach in a drift boat or from shore. We’d even catch the occasional summer steelhead, which really made our day.

Float tubes are another easy to maneuver craft that allow access to small sections of water which are difficult to reach any other way. Be sure to always have a flotation device when fishing from a float tube, or any craft.

Staying mobile is a big key to catching more fish, no matter where you’re at. The author was pleased with this nice coho taken on a fly while wade fishing.

Staying mobile is a big key to catching more fish, no matter where you’re at. The author was pleased with this nice coho taken on a fly while wade fishing.

If you don’t have access to a float tube, raft, pontoon boat or drift boat, and are restricted to shore fishing, avoid the urge to take all your gear and spend your time in one spot.

Summer fishing isn’t like winter steelhead plunking where you’re sitting in wait for fish to swim by, close to shore, usually in high water situations, or like fall Chinook fishing where you’re hoping to catch salmon as they migrate upstream in slots near the bank.

Summertime fishing for trout, steelhead, and salmon, takes on a more active approach in rivers and lakes. This means you want to stay mobile.

Take one or two rods and carry the gear for the day, on your person.

Strapping a couple large bait boxes around your waist allows you to store all the gear for the day, be it lures, jigs, sinkers, swivels, bait, and more.

Put your pre-tied leaders in a canister, like a Pip’s Hook & Leader Dispenser, and put that in your pocket, and you never have to return from your wading location to shore in order to re-rig.

Since all the gear is on you, you’re good to go, and the change-outs or replacement of tackle will be fast and efficient.

There’s rarely a need to even bring a net when fishing steelhead and trout.

landing steelhead fish trout salmon

There’s rarely a need for a net when it comes to landing summer steelhead from the bank, as they are simple to tail to shore. The less gear you have to carry, the more mobile you’ll be.

Trout are easy to land without a net, adding to your ability to stay mobile.

Steelhead can be played out to where they are so tired, that when you bring them into the shallows, all you have to do is keep their head up by lifting your rod tip, and keep them moving toward shore, then come in behind them and grab them by the base of the tail. With the pressure applied by lifting the rod, in conjunction with grabbing the tail and pushing the fish forward, it’s easy to land a steelhead in shallow water.

I can count on one hand the number of summer steelhead I’ve landed with a net in 50 years of fishing for them from the bank.

Planning ahead for your day on the water will make it perfectly clear as to the gear you’ll need. Decide where you’ll fish, and how you’ll fish, then take only the tackle you’ll need. Keep it simple, as this will greatly increase your ability to move.

This summer, go light and explore new waters.

What you’ll discover is more places where fish hold this time of year in the low, warmer conditions, and how to consistently catch them. Once that happens, you’re on your way to becoming a versed angler, which means you can count on putting meat on the table just about every time you hit the water.

- written by Scott Haugen 


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