Everyone has their own opinion on private trout water and private trout fishing “resorts”. I know that some people despise private waters, while everyone else is pretty indifferent about it. Let’s be honest, nobody is really outspokenly for it. That being said just about anyone, given a free shot at some trophy trout, private or public, would look around cautiously then accept.
I had an opportunity towards the end of the summer to hit up a private stream near where I go to college and I was surprised to learn that not all the rumors are true.
So my initial thoughts on private trout streams were like anybody else's. This
is gonna be stupid easy. I’m gonna go in there and easily catch thirty or forty fish not to mention a couple probably over four pounds. As I’m sure you can guess by now, via context clues, that was not the case.
Private trout streams are often stocked with hatchery trout and with that comes a stigma that they must be dumb or easy to catch. Which is completely true for fish relatively new to the river but on private trout waters fish learn fast and see tons of flies in a short period of time. Catching stockers is a breeze but chasing the bigger, smarter, more pressured fish is a true challenge.
There are roughly two ways a fish becomes difficult to trick. The first is the natural caution and wild nature of spooky trout, the second is a manmade difficulty. Direct pressure and quite frankly education can make fish not just cautious but down right smart. That’s why on heavily pressured waters some of the most absurd patterns that simply draw attention can work. Every fish in private water has seen an RS2 or Adams drift over its back a hundred times that's why sometimes off the wall but believable patterns work pretty well.
My experience with private water wasn’t exactly shooting fish in a barrel. Sure the new dumb fish were, well, new and dumb so catching a handful of those was as easy as a wooly bugger and a decent cast. But the seasoned veterans that spend their time drifting lazily around the deeper pools were frustratingly difficult to even get a look out of let a lone a take. More times than not I’d drift six or seven flies past one only to have them spook on the eighth.
The point I’m trying to make, if anything, is that private trout water isn’t always what everyone thinks it is. I’m sure there are plenty of private resorts that are stereotypical “trout parks” if you will, but there are also just as many with big and extremely smart trout swimming around frustrating just as many fisherman as any wild trout in any public stream. Don’t always look down your nose at private water, cause those trout are looking right back up at you, and they know all the tricks.