Wednesday, January 25, 2012


We've all heard the ninety-ten rule as it applies to fishing... ten percent of anglers catch ninety percent of the fish. It may be true, but I've never liked the saying, perhaps out of fear that I'm on the outside looking in.

Earlier this week while fishing with veteran guide Mike Faris on the Bighorn River, I heard a new take on the ninety-ten rule. While I was lamenting all of the great looking water that we were pushing through during our float, Mike assured me that at this time of the year, "Ninety percent of the fish are in ten percent of the water." It took some convincing, but by days' end I was a believer. It's an interesting concept, and one that I suspect we would all do well to keep in mind, at least during the winter months.

Read my post on the MT Sporting Journal blog for a report on the trip.

Brown trout, rusty Buicks, blue skies and cheap cigars on the Bighorn River this week.


  1. Fish the best and skip the rest. Ninety-ten is a bit extreme IMO, but is probably close to accurate during the winter, and again during and after runoff when fish are stacked on the banks.

  2. John - I've generally followed that mantra, particularly in my early years of fly fishing when I was fishing streams that were often borderline trout habitat in AZ. I've become a bit more methodical in MT, due to the fact that I've found (spooked) trout - sometimes large trout - holding in water that I would never have thought to fish.

  3. That is one Awesome saying... Ill remember it!

    Thanks for sharing and good winter fishing to you!

  4. I thought is was 90 persent talk and 10 persent actually do.
    Anyway, at first glance that didn't look like a cigar you were smoking.

  5. Thanks, Josh, good winter fishing to you as well!

    Kevin - Haven't heard that one, but a lot of folks are all talk, particularly bloggers. And yeah, you can relax, it's just a Backwoods.

  6. I've been tossin flies a long time and I would say the 90/10 rule was true in the old days but in more recent times I don't think it is the case. I used to brag and to put my money where my mouth is bet anyone $100 I could out fish them, but there are a lot more men and women out there that are pretty damn good at tossin flies. I haven't made that statement in a long time. Unless you count the time a few years back when I had a bit (just a bit) to much bourbon to drink.

  7. MTWB - I agree, there are many skilled anglers these days. But I do suspect that there is a top tier of anglers who simply spend more time on the water than most. As a result they catch far more fish than an equally skilled angler who is on the water far less.