Posts Tagged ‘Trout’

Cefnllysgwynne

June 28, 2018

Cefnllysgwynne (and no I don’t have any idea how to pronounce it)

This was to be my last day of fishing in Wales, this time back on the Irfon, and with packing in mind I decided that I should venture out early  instead of late. I hadn’t been on the water at crack of dawn at any point. Mostly because dawn is so early there would be little point in going to bed.

I have been up and about at five or earlier every day, either the sunshine or the dawn chorus awakens me, but never actually at dawn, so I set the alarm on my phone and was ready to head out before the sun rose. That is when the shock hit, it had been 27°C during the day. The dawn temperature according to the car’s gauge was 3.5°C, (According to my finger tips that was an optimistic estimate). Hell it was Frigging Freezing, or in Welsh FFriging FFreezing. (I think that I am getting into this dual language thing) 🙂

The directions were clear, and a wondrous discovery during my trip, the cell phone GPS /Sat Nav will find a building based on nothing more than the post code. You just put in EX23 8DG and it will take you to the door of my old childhood home for example. This beat had such a post code reference and it was a piece of cake to locate it.

The estate is large and on it there is a church right down by the river, there are a variety of access points but with such an early start I didn’t wish to risk causing disturbance to anyone else and this parking spot and access point was far from the main house.

I parked right in front of the Church, (I was to find out later that the building only has gas lighting and no electricity and that during the summer months there is a service on the last Sunday of each month).

A tiny church within the estate, not yards from the Irfon River.

It did strike me that attractive as the place was, it would have proven of little use in converting me. Being forced to listen to a sermon on the inside whilst trying to see fish in the river I fear would have seen me excommunicated at best.

There is also another tale associated with this church, which I have been unable to substantiate, that Prince Llewellyn the Last prayed here before being tricked and killed by the English the next day. I am not going to venture what that may say about the powers of prayer or the possible affiliations of God with the English. If God isn’t a Celt I’m not interested.

However, all of that aside, I headed down to look over the beat, the river steaming like a sauna because the water was far warmer than the air.  The sun was toying with the idea of coming over the hill and heating things up. However I was a little disappointed that the first sections of the river looked very slow moving and not ideal for trout and grayling fishing. Although lower downstream than the section I fished on the Colonel’s Water, I was expecting the flows to be limited as they were higher up.

I had however learned that these rivers change character throughout and wandered through the woodlands, working my way upstream and seeking out suitable fly water. I took a few small fish from a gravel run, shallow enough to force the current to speed up slightly and then took a couple better fish where the rock bed forced the current to accelerate once more.

Gradually as I headed upstream the river changed character and looked far more inviting to fish.

The River narrowed from there on, with more overhanging trees but at the same time more moving water and I was now catching both fish and branches with some regularity. Switch casts and roll casts became my primary weapon and I took some nice fish.  Focusing mostly on getting drifts under the many trees which overhung the water.

I took a number of very pretty brown trout, not huge but beautifully marked and strong for their size.

At this point, whilst lining up a possible flick under the dark shade of the vegetation I became aware of a family of otters playing in the shadows. Unfortunately we pretty much saw each other at the same time and then playtime was over and they disappeared.  Lovely to see though, I would say at least three and perhaps more, but their departure was as though a puff of smoke vanished. Not a ripple on the water or a communicative squeak. They were there and then they were gone.

The final fish of the day a grayling on a long cast into the head of a large but shallow run, my only “lady of the stream” and I was well pleased. All in all I think that I had captured 15 odd trout and that solitary grayling in a four hour session.

I was well pleased to catch a grayling at the end of the session. A long slack line cast and a take to the dry. I think the only grayling I had come to the dry fly during the trip.

On my return to the car there were, unexpectedly, people exiting the church and I was able to speak with the estate owner. He seemed surprised that I had caught fish, apparently a recent previous visitor had lashed the water without so much as a take.

 

Driving off the estate I came across a team of shearers with a portable outside shearing station, I didn’t take any pictures, fascinated as I was, I felt that I might have been in some way intruding. But I asked Jane when I got back to the cottages. “How do they keep the sheep still” and she suggested that in these high temperatures the sheep were probably only too glad to get rid of their coats. I was thinking that they might not be quite so pleased tomorrow morning if the temperatures are a repeat of the past 24 hours.

I had planned my day well, being a Sunday I was going to finish fishing, clean up and then head out to the Red Lion for a plate of authentic Welsh cuisine as a final goodbye to the land of Cymru .

Alas arrival at the Red Lion coincided precisely with the closure of the kitchen until 6.00pm and having not eaten since the previous morning’s breakfast I couldn’t wait. (I had skipped breakfast so as to attempt hypothermia during an early dawn session on the river).  I went to another pub / restaurant… no they closed at 2.00 on a Sunday and didn’t reopen until Monday. I then found a place that boasted serving food until 3.00pm on a Sunday, the rub was that by now it 3.00pm – kitchen closed. In the end my dreams of real ale washing down a plate of traditional Welsh fare were squashed and I had to settle, (hypoglycaemia was imminent) for a visit to Burger King, the only place I could find open.

Dreams of a hearty traditional Welsh supper were quashed and I had to settle for the most disgusting burger I have ever had the misfortune to consume.

 

ordered a “Bacon, Cheese, Chicken Royale” (my italics) . I think that they perhaps have trained the chickens to be grown in tins in the same manner that some places manage to grow fruit in glass jars. “Tasteless” would be to grossly over emphasize the effect on one’s palate, no matter that starvation was near set in. The bacon I never actually located and the cheese was some sort of melted goop that one expects to find in junior school science experiments. My mother always said that “Hunger makes the best sauce” in which case the sauce wasn’t up to scratch either, I was absolutely famished and could still barely force myself to swallow.

Thoroughly disappointed with what was supposed to be my final meal in Wales I opted to change the schedule slightly so that I could at least enjoy another of Richard’s magnificent breakfasts at Pwllgwilym cottages. Not the full Monty you understand, but at least raspberries with Greek yoghurt and cereal, followed by poached eggs on toast. I couldn’t let my final culinary experience in the land of the red dragon be a burger that tasted like foam rubber.

So it was that, packed and ready for departure to parts new, I enjoyed one last breakfast before hitting the road. I was genuinely sorry to leave, it was like living at home but for the fact that home is actually probably not that comfortable.

Pwllgwilym Cottages

Should you ever visit Mid Wales, fishing or not, I would highly commend Pwllgwilym: Bed and Breakfast and Cottages. Richard and Jane are wonderful , relaxed, welcoming and efficient hosts. Richard also runs standard and bespoke tours of Mid Wales and is a mine of information on the locale. Without a doubt the nicest, neatest, friendliest place I have stayed during my travels here.   They have a 9.9 out of 10 rating on bookings.com and they deserve it..
You can reach them directly through www.pwllgwilym-cottages.co.uk or email at bookings@pwllgwilym-cottages.co.uk

Pwllgwilym Cottages received a 9.9 out of 10 rating from customer reviews on Booking.com

 

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Fair Weather and Foul

June 10, 2013

FairWeatherHead

Fair weather and foul.

What’s that thing from the US Postal Service? That motto about “rain or snow?”.

Well apparently it isn’t an official motto, but inscribed on The James Farley Post office in New York City are the words:

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”

It sounds pretty impressive, but then they actually nicked the phrase from Herodotus, describing the Persian system of mounted postal carriers. Yes we all thought that that was invented by the Pony Express but apparently the Persians came up with the idea well before Charlton Heston and Rhonda Fleming.

USPS

Anyway I digress, the point is that I suspect that the same immortal words could be applied to fly anglers, with the useful adaption of “appointed rounds” to something along the lines of “pursuing fish” . Living and fishing in South Africa I get to fish mostly in nice balmy weather, it has its drawbacks low water, clear blue skies, spooky trout and nine inch wide shadows from 7x tippet but mostly it is pleasant out there. Except not now, now is winter, now the rivers are closed and in flood, now the temperatures have plummeted, now there is snow on the mountains, now it is actually pretty unpleasant and the only options are stillwater fishing.

In fact the stillwater fishing here is generally far better in the cold winter months but perhaps many people don’t realise that winter here, on the southern tip of the African Continent is pretty much like winter most places, lots of rain, high winds, and biting chill.

So apart from tying different flies, rigging different lines and gearing up the boat for launch, it also means searching through the cupboards for the thermal nickers and all that stuff to ward of hypothermia.

Matroosberg

It so happens that the weather forecast for the high country was for rain on Saturday and sunny skies on the Sunday, and it would have seemed an obvious choice to head out on Sunday, but alas that wasn’t on the cards. My very good mate and regular boat partner Mike had other commitments for the Sunday so it was go on Saturday and deal with the weather. After all we are men not mice right? A bit of rain never heart anyone after all; we are supposed to be outdoorsmen, intrepid adventurers, to go behind beyond what no one has gone behind beyond before and all off that. This is fishing, you can’t let the weather dictate what you do, just get out there and fish. Anyway we all know that the fishing is often best when the weather is at its worst, at least on stillwaters. If the quality of the fishing is in inverse proportion to the horror of the weather we were in for a high ol’ time.

SmartPhone

So it was a case of digging deep in the cupboards for the wet weather gear and girding up the loins for some foul weather fishing. In the end Mike couldn’t make it anyway (there is some karma coming his way for that no doubt) so I drove the two hours to Ceres on my own, lashing rain, puddles and some frighteningly blinding spray from the trucks on the road. I met up with Albe Nel at his home in Ceres and we headed for the water in the pre-dawn darkness. The fancy little LED screen in the car boasting that the temperatures had risen to nearly 8°C, positively tropical for this part of the world during the winter months.

At the lake we were greeted by friends who were staying out there in the fishing hut and were most grateful of an early morning cuppa and the shelter of the porch whilst we donned waders, fleeces, rain jackets, hats and whole nine yards, knowing that we were to be sitting in the downpour for the entire day. The boat was inflated and launched without mishap and although things looked more than a little grim, with low cloud, lashing rain and a moderate and bitterly chill wind we were committed now. Plus it has to be said that I had a new reel and a couple of new flylines with which I was desperately keen to experiment.

GoneFishing2

The first drift of the day was a rather torrid affair, we haven’t boat fished for months and were out of practise, the wayward breezes switched direction constantly and the rain lashed down. The boat spun about and refused to settle into a nice neat track but right at the end of that first drift we hit a fish. A bright silver triploid stockie from last season, fit as a fiddle, feeding close up against the bank.

The sun didn’t come out but it felt a little as though it had now that the blank had been avoided. Outside of fishing circles it is a little recognised fact that although mathematically the difference between nought and two and one and two is the same, in fishing the former is an order of magnitude more significant that the latter and it is always an uplifting moment to get that monkey off your back.

We rowed back to repeat the drift, pushing the boat into the waves with long pulls on the oars, the rain at times now near horizontal. On the second drift we were a little better organised and hit fish with some regularity. Both fishing intermediate lines, Albe’s sinking a little faster than my “Hover Line”, remarkably all the fish took small nymphs fished on the top dropper, I suppose that for whatever reason that was what they wanted.

So the day progressed, it rained, we caught a few fish, it rained more and we caught a few more fish. We would occasionally take what my American clients euphemistically refer to as a “Comfort Break”, which mostly involved walking about to stretch sore and stiff muscles, lighting a fag out of the full force of the gale and perhaps taking a pee, risking exposure of one’s nether regions to the rapidly dropping temperatures.

Trying to undo waders and coat zips with frozen fingers reminded me of a quotation about the most difficult part of climbing Mt Everest. I don’t recall the commentator’s name but the response was “taking a piss with a three inch dick in nine inches of clothing”, we weren’t exactly at camp two on the Lhotse traverse but it darn well felt like it.

Snowflakes

For one all too brief spell the weak winter sun broke through the clouds and we basked in radiant heat for all of five minutes before the weather closed in again, but we persevered. At one point Albe got to three fish more than me,(during the day we had never been more than a fish or two away from equality), so I switched to a faster intermediate line and immediately nabbed two fish to bring the scores near level once again.

It is interesting that one has to pick out the right depth to be fishing and even in these torrid conditions and the chore of tying knots with frigid fingers , good technique dictates that one is prepared to adapt and making the right moves pays dividends in the end.

We pushed things too late, the clouds lifted a tad to reveal snowfalls on the high peaks around the lake, not more than a few hundred meters above us, it just served to make us feel more chill than we already were. The boat was filled with rainwater, every single thing from fly boxes to boat bags were completely drenched and by the time we packed up it had got dark. We just chucked everything into the back of Albe’s truck and decided to sort it all out in the light and relative warmth of his garage when we got back to town. The air temperature by now had dropped to 5°C.

It was an act of insanity really to fish so late, we had caught plenty of fish, more than thirty for the day between us, but I suppose when you are fishermen out fishing and the fish are biting it is just a little too much to simply walk away. Anyway what’s a little hypothermia between friends?

SoftHackleBanner

I still had to venture out into the darkness and downpour to open two gates on the way home and if I can find the guy who invented the heater in Albe’s truck I might well be prepared to perform and unnatural act as gratitude for his foresight.

Many thanks to Wendy, Craig, Isaac, David and Sarah for allowing us to occupy the hut during our breaks and for plying us with hot coffee to stave off the chill.

It wasn’t the most auspicious start to the winter season, but we can’t complain about the fishing, having spent the night at home under two duvets and a couple of blankets my core temperature has returned to near normal. My body still feels a bit bruised and battered and there is a pile of wet fishing gear and a filthy boat to be sorted out but the sun is shining outside and in a week or two I shall be ready to try again. I suppose there is a fine dividing line between madness and passion and I am hoping that perhaps there might be a little sunshine on the next trip. A few more days like this and my body will lose all its pigmentation, rather like those weird creatures that live out their lives in the chill dank of deep caves, but I know that whatever the weather, it isn’t going to stop me wetting a line and I figure that is the way things should be.

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The Beauty of Nature

October 30, 2012

The beauty of nature:

I take my time fishing pretty seriously, it isn’t so much that I have to catch a lot of fish or even a big fish but I do want to catch fish. As the years have passed the challenge hasn’t lessened nor the desire for success, but I move more quietly now, I try to pause and appreciate things a bit more, I slow down and look more closely and wonder at the complexity of it all. I try to drink in the beauty of it, the astounding abundance that surrounds us and the symmetry and perfection of the designs which are all about us and which we equally so often miss or take for granted.

The perfect bell shapes of the Erica’s dangling over the water’s edge, the glorious symmetry of the daisies and the convolutions of the mountain’s folds, forced into “S” bends by unimaginable and ancient forces.

I marvel at the miracle of life on the stream, the emergence of a dragonfly, growing larger than its shuck, its thirty minute transformation from aquatic predator to attack helicopter.

The mayflies are no longer simply bugs to copy, but motes of ephemeral splendour in the morning light, delicate beauty and functionality rolled into one. In nature little is truly ugly and less is dysfunctional, it is a balance, and it proves that functionality and pragmatic design live in combination, the one wondrously counter-pointed by the other and melded together to produce tremendous beauty.

Can we really define beauty? What makes something beautiful? It seems to be a question akin to “what is morality”, we all have a definition, an idea, perhaps even a considerable degree of commonality, but I suspect that somewhere deep down we have the concept of beauty hard wired into our genetic code.

We take our cues from nature, we try to emulate it, copy it, reproduce and engineer it. However I suspect that our best efforts are only hollow representations, empty manipulative shells of true splendour. Somewhere deep inside us we know that nature is beauty, that we are indeed part of nature, grown from the same evolutionary process and still part of the natural community, no matter the degree of our homocentric wriggling to affect an egotistical escape.

I never sense that perfection in an urban environment, I see copies of it, attempts at it, concrete and stainless steel in endless, and to a point magnificent array, but it lacks soul, it lacks the timeless endurance that has fashioned the natural world over eons.

What building is more wondrous than a honeycomb?

What engineering more spectacular than a mayfly’s wing?

What colours more vivid than a sunbird’s plumage?

What art more perfectly balanced than a brown trout’s spots?

It is in nature that one finds true beauty, we can only try to emulate it but we cannot better it. Some of our greatest accomplishments are little more than copies. Our sonar has been the prevail of bats since time immemorial, our cameras spectacular until you consider an eagle’s eye, our antibiotics are taken from or copied from naturally occurring chemicals, our computer chips may seem incredibly small until you think that a single sperm or seed contains the blueprint for an entirely new being.

Nature amazes me and it humbles me, it enlivens me and motivates me, in nature I find my foundation for I am part of it and it is part of me: it is part of you! When we embrace ourselves as part of nature we are all beautiful, for the natural world doesn’t create ugly. It is when we focus entirely on ourselves, when we seek to manipulate, cajole, battle and overwhelm that we become ugly. When we chase more and more and more, when we drive for endless growth and destroy in short-sighted avarice we become ugly.

Fly fishing may seem a strange place to find this truth, but in reality when one is on a river, you have to fit in to the natural world, you cannot dominate it. Every true hunter has an appreciation for his quarry, an understanding of the seasons, an innate recognition of what sustainable actually means.   Every tribe has a natural God to which they give thanks; hatred has no place in nature, nor does greed, nor does ugly. Nature is endlessly beautiful, timeless and fascinating and it is a community to which we belong if we would only take the time to renew our membership.

That’s what I do when I go fishing these days, I put up my hand and I swear allegiance to the natural world, I am part of it and it is part of me and I renew my membership each time I head out, it is endless and will outlive me, but not my soul, for even in the next realm, my bones will perhaps become part of a mayfly’s wing or a trout’s spots. In effect we shall all achieve immortality, reincarnation is a part of the natural world and we will not escape it. As a part of the natural world I am assured of an endless line of wondrous and beautiful existence and so are you.

A Question.

June 21, 2012

Can you catch eight or so fish and honestly claim that it wasn’t a good day’s fishing?

That probably sounds a dreadfully egotistical question and more so if the answer is yes, but actually on a recent trip to a local lake the answer was undoubtedly in the affirmative, I did catch eight fish and no it wasn’t a good day..

It is pretty much accepted that most of us go through various phases in our fly fishing lives. The sequence varies slightly from author to author but the general list looks something like this.

To catch a fish
To catch lots of fish
To catch big fish
To catch a specific fish
To catch fish in the way that you would like to.
To catch a specific fish in the way that you would like to.
The list probably goes on with variations of more species or specific fish such as trying to catch “Ol Bert” who lives next to the third pylon on the road bridge and has become a local legend. The permutations are endless really but pretty much all of us are in a “phase”.

Now I am going to add another, to catch a fish such that you think at least that you understand why you caught it. There is something soulful about doing this, even if it is a figment of one’s imagination. One of the reasons I don’t like to pump fish stomachs too often, the contents can ruin what was up to that point the perfectly happy illusion that I had cracked the code.

So for example you flip a perfect drift over a rising trout and he ignores your offering, you change patterns and still the fish simply rises to a natural next to your imitation. You persevere and notice some flying ants on the rocks. You switch to an ant pattern, the fish takes on the first pass and when you finally land it you pump its stomach only to find ants, ants and more ants, does piscatorial life get better than that?

There is a certain wholesomeness to that scenario, a closing of a circle, a combination of dexterity, skill, observation and deduction that takes fly fishing far above the level of throwing out a woolly bugger and dragging it back. Sort of Zen Buddhism versus WWF wrestling.

Just recently I visited a productive lake which I have fished three times now in close succession. Normally I would be drifting it with my mate and regular boat partner Mike, I have to take him as he owns half of the boat and will cough up for some of the petrol, but this time around he was tied up with work projects and unable, at the last minute, to make it.

Missed you Mike.

So I set off alone a two and a half hour drive arriving at the water in the pre-dawn, air temperature 3°C and set about pumping up the boat and sorting out the gear. Launching was only moderately more challenging than with two people and I was afloat and heading for the first drift within forty minutes or so.

My view and Mike’s view of boat fishing a lake is that one should first drift to find the fish, the wind was variable with some calm spells and it took a long while to locate even one fish. That taken on a hare’s ear nymph dragged behind the boat whilst changing position so it didn’t really count.

By lunch I had only that one fish despite flailing madly, changing lines from Di5 up to slow intermediate and back.  It is times like this that you get to truly value the benefits of a good boat partner and I am already realising that I shall have to apologise about the jibe in respect of owning half the boat. With two of you fishing, different sink rate lines, different flies and covering twice as much water is should be easier to find a concentration of fish, indeed I would suggest logarithmically easier. On my own I hadn’t found more than that odd one.

Then I hooked another fish trolling the line behind me as I moved, it really isn’t cricket to catch fish like this and again to my way of thinking it didn’t really count , but at least I figured that the fish perhaps wanted something moving faster, or shallower or both.

I then hooked yet another trout whilst on the move, why would a trout attack an orange blob fly moving at 15 Kms an hour? It didn’t make sense and finally with a very rapid retrieve I hooked and landed my first “legitimate fish”, a hen that poured roe all over me and the boat when I landed her.

This now raises yet another question, you see many of the fish we have taken in the past week or two have been bright silver, rounder in aspect and more salmon like, showing none of the expected colouration and gravidity that might normally be seen in the early winter months. I strongly suspect that those silver fish are indeed triploids, part of a stocking years back who are now unaffected by spawning urges.

I landed a few more fish on either orange blob flies or red and green boobies which are in fact a pretty fair imitation of a dragonfly nymph when retrieved at speed., but in all honesty I never quite got with the program. I didn’t have any working hypothesis as to why I caught when I did or failed when I didn’t.

When I got home that female trout was with me, she had been badly hooked and was bleeding so was put down and brought her home for supper.  Her stomach contents? Four small boxy dragon fly nymphs no more than a 10 mm in length, each as though a sibling of the others, not exactly a suggestion of a feeding frenzy.

So here are my thoughts, I suspect that the dam is currently harbouring two distinct populations of fish, the sexually active ones who are hardly feeding and responding more from aggression than hunger and the triploids, which I failed to find this trip, feeding happily somewhere out there in the watery expanse.

So I ended up with eight odd fish to the boat and I was none the wiser by the end of the day than when I had started. That is annoying, we generally start out without too much of a clue but gradually find fish, hone in on the correct depth and then suitable flies such that we have worked out the formula for the day. This time I didn’t manage that and the numbers of fish didn’t ameliorate my disappointment.

It isn’t egotistical to suggest that this wasn’t the best of days, sure a few fish in the boat makes it seem worthwhile but in the end I learned very little. It has to be said that I would far rather catch feeding fish than purely aggressive ones and if this was a victory is was to my mind a little bit of a hollow one.

Never mind, next time I am out I shall have Mike as a wingman and we can perhaps hunt down those triploids who are behaving a little more normally, go back to imitative patterns and kid ourselves that we have worked it out. Just so long as neither of us decides to check the stomach contents and spoil the day.

Trout and the Flat Earth Society.

October 7, 2010

Now it strikes me that if I were a trout in a catch and release stream it wouldn’t take too long for it to dawn on me that most of the sh1t in my life came from “up there”. You know above that little silvery window that is the ceiling of my aquatic world.

Fish eagles, otters, kingfishers (at least when I was little) and of course anglers, plus like a small child afraid of the dark I wouldn’t have a particularly good feeling about stuff that I can’t see and my view is limited at the best of times.

So rather as humankind were a bit wary of the horizon in times past and fearful of dropping off the edge of the world so for a trout the outer world would be a little scary. I mean I don’t need to identify every bump in the dark to be fearful of it and, were I a trout, anything untoward, a glimpse of movement or a flash is enough to put me on edge and perhaps even take a runner and stick my head under a rock for a while until the perceived danger is passed. (The ichthyological  equivalent of locking yourself in the bathroom).

Trout don’t need to identify a threat to be wary of it.

I well remember fishing with my fishing mate (and drinking partner) Gordon McKay years back when he was casting and I was “spotting” for him. There he was all lined up on a trout that we could both see clearly in the crystal waters. The fish was feeding away happily, occasionally broaching the surface and unaware of either of us, just doing what a trout does when breakfast is on the table.

It so happened however that just as Gordon made his presentation a large dragonfly came bumbling up the stream, casting a shadow like a pterodactyl in the bright sunshine and flew directly up behind the fish such that it didn’t notice until the last moment. The passage of that shadow coincided exactly with Gordon’s dry fly presentation and as the fly was in the air the fish bolted for cover. Poor Gordon, who from his point of view couldn’t see this all unfold simply assumed that he had made some mistake but in all fairness that wasn’t the case at all. The fish bolted simply because of the shadow of a dragonfly that wasn’t in any real sense a threat.  Trout don’t like surprises and they particularly don’t like surprises that come from “up there”.

Smart trout:

 

Success on a drowned Midge Pattern.

 

Further were I a trout it would come to pass at some point that I might realize that most of the time eating stuff off the surface is a high risk occupation in an environment where most anglers prefer to fish dry fly.

It isn’t just a snobbish affliction, we all like the drift of the fly, the vision of a spotted shadow rising on the current to intercept our offering and the glorious heart stopping moment when the mouth flashes white and we try to time our strike, nerves jangling as we attempt to avoid being too hasty.  So if I were a trout I think that I would tend to find other sources of food if possible and what better and easier pickings could there be than drowned bugs just under the surface?

You see it doesn’t escape me that in the bubbling freestone rivers that I fish most of the time insects that are falling on or hatching from the stream have pretty limited windows of opportunity to escape before they are done in by the next waterfall. The waterfalls don’t need to be huge, if you are a size 20 midge a moderate boulder will create a stopper wave that in comparison to one’s size is like the rapids of the Colorado. For a small bug in a freestone stream drowning is only ever a short drift away.

One can look back at the angling literature and there are numerous indications that trout might very well enjoy the easy pickings that lie just under the surface. Soft hackles, emergers, stillborns, Klinkhammers and probably quite a few “low floating” dry flies are all good imitations of bugs that have been swamped.

Recently I have been revisiting this idea with a good deal of success, for years I have fished dry flies designed as much so that I can see them as that they imitate the fish’s food but there are problems associated with fishing like this. Not least that the fish are wary of the surface, that drag is all the more noticeable on a floating fly and that no matter what you do you can’t get the darn tippet to sink much of the time.

The idea is that by going just subsurface you eliminate many of those problems and with a lot of net winged midges on the water of late I had been thinking that perhaps fishing a fly just under the water I might give myself a better chance of deception.

The further advantage is that bugs that have just been given the wash cycle treatment are going to look a little disheveled at best and therefore with my limited fly tying skills it would be a lot easier to imitate them. I mean I just had to lash some stuff on a hook and stamp on it a few times to get the required effect. The only real objection being that I couldn’t see the darn things in the water.

So was born the “drowned midge”, it takes about a minute to tie one, the rougher the better (remember that the required look is sort of microscopic road kill). Fished on a fine tippet to allow the weight of the hook to sink the pattern a few inches and a dry fly to act as an indicator I was ready to experiment.

 

Loose dubbing, a brush with some velcro, a couple of hackle point wings and you are in business.

 

On two recent trips to the stream this tactic has proven to be  a real winner, sure a number of the fish eat the dry, perhaps even the majority but the ones that refuse it will frequently take the midge and more to the point will sometimes simply ignore the floating pattern entirely.

It also seemed to me that the takes on the subsurface pattern were more positive whereas takes on the dry seemed to indicate that the better fish were eating the thing with what locally might be referred to as “Lang Tande”, (that is “long teeth” for the uninitiated) and indicative of less than true commitment to swallowing the floating imitation.

The fly fishes so close to the surface that most of the time you will see the take anyway and you still have the dry as a back up. It is a wonderfully effective tactic and a real “go to” trick when the fish are coming short or offering up inspection and refusal rises, something that seems to be getting more common.

Perhaps you might like to try this next time you are on the stream, the fish seem a whole lot more confident in chomping down on some hapless bug that has been swamped and if they can be sneaky enough to avoid eating high floating dries I can certainly be sneaky enough to go subsurface after them.

The Drowned Net Winged Midge:

Hook: size 18 moderately heavy wire.

Abdomen: Black 70 Denier Thread dressed short.

Thorax: Soft black dubbing, rabbit or similar brushed out with velcro.

Wings: Dun Hackle points.

Front Thorax: A pinch more loose dubbing.

Brought to you by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris in conjunction with STEALTH FLY ROD AND REEL, suppliers of Gamakatsu Hooks, Airflo Lines, Costa Del Mar Sunglasses, Deep Red Fly Rods, Scott Rods and more.

 

Brought to you by Inkwazi Flyfishing Cape Town's best fly fishing guiding service.

 


Three Days at Lakensvlei

May 5, 2010

Sunset over the Cape Piscatorial Society's premier stillwater.

Having had quite some layoff from things piscatorial events conspired to produce a surfeit of angling over the past week or so. Much of the best of it being at Lakensvlei dam, a water owned by the Hex River Water Board with the fishing controlled by the Cape Piscatorial Society here in Cape Town.

Influenced by competition fishing many of us have taken to drift boat fishing this relatively large water and recently I became the proud part owner of a “Fishduc” inflatable. The inflatable packs up small, is exceptionally versatile and affords an excellent fishing platform for drift boating when combined with a drogue system to reduce the rate of the drift.

Mike Spinola with a nice fish from our new boat.

Up until then most anglers here would fish from float tubes, personally I never liked them if only for the reason that you inevitably end up trolling and not casting, some anglers could be seen only casting about once every half an hour. Anyway, do you really want to spend the rest of your fishing days going backwards?

The drift boat option affords the opportunity to drift onto new water constantly whilst searching fish and the ability to locate the fish efficiently in a large body of water is really the great advantage of this style. The advantages of being able to chat to your boat partner, pick up your coffee cup, fags or a stiff whisky don’t go amiss either for that matter.

The isolated fishing hut on the banks makes for a rustic but perfectly comfortable home for a day or two with only gas stove and candles or gas lamps spending a couple of nights out there really does bring things into perspective in terms of what is really important and what isn’t.

Waking in the early hours the sunrise over the rapidly cooling dam and the consequent low clouds of early morning mist were a picture and the sunsets in the evenings, well something special that’s for sure.

The first day saw us work hard for fish but we managed seven each by day’s end, an exhausting day’s end to be sure and I was glad that I was staying over and not having to make the two hour drive back to town. We drifted a great deal of the lake and didn’t ever really find too much of a concentration of fish except where they were on the top , besotted with a fall of flying ants and taking no interest in most of the flies that we had to throw at them. It would seem that like their riverine brethren stillwater trout love ants.

In fact one of the fish that was badly hooked and therefore killed subsequently proved to be literally “stuffed to the gills” with these little hymenoptera no wonder they wouldn’t look at anything else.

Yes that entire pile of food is just ants.. trout love ants..

Day two saw me afloat with a client and if anything the fish were even less in evidence, we fished hard covered a lot of water and only later in the evening when the fish started to move on the top did we have any degree of success. Although rising fish moping up the remnants of the ant fall seemed a little less choosy, perhaps the numbers of ants was waning and as a result the fish becoming a little less selective.

Day three and my third fishing partner of the extended weekend and we cracked it, we found good numbers of fish in one of the arms and caught some thirty trout between us for the day. Many still showing evidence of being stuffed with ants, although I believe that quite a few were feeding just under the surface to the sunken insects. All the fish were in the extreme shallows, perhaps lured there by the drifting ants being piled up on the windward bank by the breeze and offering easy pickings.

Time to return home after three hard days of rowing and fishing, having caught approximately thirty trout to my rod and having enjoyed a wonderfully peaceful and basic existence on the edge of a gorgeous stillwater. Not to mention the chance to share the experience with three different anglers on different days. It rarely gets much better than this and although I returned tired out from casting and rowing, the boat is in the garage and I can go back pretty any time I wish.  Winter is here and that means I may well wish to return quite a lot.

Our new ARK inflatable boat. The world is now our oyster, or at least the wet bits are.

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Fly fishing in and around Cape Town South Africa.

This post is sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris, Cape Town’s top flyfishing guiding service, you can find out more about what they have to offer on www.inkwaziflyfishing.co.za or e mail them at Inkwazi Flyfishing

The Cape Piscatorial Society.

You can reach the Cape Piscatorial Society on the link www.piscator.co.za or contact the secretary at Cape Piscatorial Society

Fishduc Hire in Cape Town:

You can hire these boats from ARK inflatables.

Or StreamX e mail: StreamX

Drag and Steak Dinners

March 26, 2010

This post sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris

It is very much my contention that trout , and trout in catch and release waters in particular, will “learn” to avoid getting caught if they can. That is not to suggest that they necessarily go through any complex cogitative process but simply that, like all wild creatures they adapt to their environment to reduce wasted energy and tend not to do what is biologically inefficient.

On waters where there are strong insect hatches the obvious answer is to only eat specific insects at specific times which has in angling circles resulted in a near blind faith in “matching the hatch’. Something that I am quite sure has its place and an approach that even on the less fertile streams becomes critical at some times where the fish have honed in on beetles or ants or some such to the degree that anything less than a close copy is ineffective.

However much of the time on the less alkaline streams the fish really need to make the best of a bad job and eat whatever becomes available, a sort of mixed grill of bits and bobs that float down the river, from the wayward beetle to the odd caddis and over selectivity under such circumstances would see the fish burning more energy than they were taking in. Nature tends to be pragmatic and if there is food there the fish are more than likely to make the most of it.  A situation which I would hypothesize makes the trout more vulnerable to being caught because the old selectivity saw doesn’t offer any protection from making a mistake and ending up with a hook in the lip and together with that a large waste of energy struggling to escape.

Presentation

To my way of thinking, and of course I am not a trout and don’t really know what trout think, it would seem that the “behavior” of the fly makes for a pretty reliable means of selecting the good from the bad  or the real from the doppelganger. Most certainly the more heavily fished a water becomes the more sensitive fish become to inappropriate presentation and when fishing dry fly “inappropriate presentation” means drag.

I well remember my first introduction to drag in a library book on fly fishing back in the day when such didn’t include photographs at all and descriptions were merely embellished with line drawings. So the line drawing of a fly “dragging” showed a dry fly whizzing across the surface at sufficient pace to leave a wake behind it like the spume from the back of a ski-boat.

Certainly that is drag but it is the most severe version and there are many more subtle variations, some frequently referred to as “micro-drag” which are virtually imperceptible to the human eye. Anything from that obvious wake to the fly travelling at slightly less or more than the speed of the bubble next to it can be sufficient to warn a trout off making a mistake. So the question arises, and it is an enquiry that has been asked of me more than once, “how much drag is too much” and the simple answer is any.

However lets put the idea of drag into a metaphorical frame so that perhaps novice anglers will get the idea as part of a clearer picture. It is a description that I have used frequently in various fly fishing classes and it seems to get the message across.

The power of repetition.

Trout tend to live in specific spots on the stream and if the angler puts himself into the fish’s fins as it were he will recognize that the fish becomes extremely  used to the way things happen on his particular little bit of water. Sitting comfortably in his favourite feeding lie the trout will see thousands if not millions of bits and pieces get carried along in the current. Each one, be it leaf litter, a bubble, an insect or a piece of weed will be driven by the current in exactly the same way over and over and over. Come down the current lane, flip to the left past the large boulder, spin slightly in the eddy and then get whisked away over the fish’s head. Over and over and over again.  One has to concur that this would lead to an extreme and probably near sub-conscious familiarity with the way things are.  With such a repetitive process occurring all the time any variation is likely to show up quite clearly.

Drag and your steak dinner.

So let’s put you in the trout’s position, imagine that every Friday evening you go to your favourite restaurant and order fillet steak. The same waiter every Friday puts you at the same table, you look out the same window, eat off the same table cloth and greatly enjoy the same portion of nicely done fillet with the same knife and fork , the same lighting, same same same, Friday after Friday after Friday.

Then on one particular visit the same waiter gives you the same greeting, takes the same order for the same steak dinner and when it arrives you pick up the same knife and the same fork, already in Pavlovian response anticipating the taste of your succulent first bite.  So the question is this “how much to you think that that steak would have to move on your plate to get you to lose your appetite”? That is drag and I think that you would agree, put in those terms you wouldn’t really even have to measure the degree of movement to know that something wasn’t quite right. A slight sigh on the part of your fillet would no doubt be enough to put you in panic mode.

So next time you are assessing “how much drag is too much” I suggest that you think of that fictional steak dinner and it should put things into perspective.

Pocket Water

March 15, 2010

Pocket water can be productive even when levels are low.

On the streams  outside of Cape Town where I fish and guide mostly there is one aspect, perhaps even a “trick of the trade” that frequently distinguishes the men from the boys, the winners from the also rans and to be honest those who go home with feelings of smug satisfaction compared to those who don’t.

It isn’t so much that everyone doesn’t know about it, more that they fail to believe it or simply don’t bother to try the type of fishing, casting and presentation required. The name of the game is to focus most of your attention on the pocket water and that brings with it at first a host of problems for the average angler.

I say average not implying any lack of skill, more that the average angler watched Brad Pitt casting in
“A River Runs Through It” got really excited and ever since has been in some way dissatisfied if he can’t watch his line snaking out in yards in front of him. Secondly the average angler has a problem believing that there could be decent fish in amongst those foamy little pockets in the boulders, I mean all the lunkers must be in that deep weir pool on the corner surely?

Pocket water offers both advantages and problems in equal measure:

Firstly even in low water the pockets generally have a little bit of current and at least some riffle to the surface that makes your presentation a tad easier than on the still slow glides.

Secondly fish in pockets have a pretty limited view of the world making them easier to sneak up on and for the most part sit still in the current looking upstream waiting to intercept the next food item to appear. They don’t have a lot of time either so they need to make a relatively hasty decision about the true nature of your presentation. Conversely those fish in the still pools of summer, and there are plenty of them, have the entire millennium to count the tails on your mayfly, to look at the knots on your leader and generally swim about in all directions being for want of a better description “particularly difficult”.

Thirdly because for the most part they are loners if you spook one he will duck under a rock and not race about scaring his brethren and generally mucking up the fishing for yards ahead, a frustrating reality on the glides in low water.

Fish in pockets just seem to be happier with their lives in general, snug amongst the boulders they display a relative calmness lacking in their open water cousins and all that is good if you are an angler.

Not that it is all plain sailing this pocket fishing lark:

The downsides are that pockets have tremendously varied currents and pocket water fish whilst they may well be relaxed are not immune to the effects of drag on your fly. It all happens fast too so you can’t solve the problems by mending the line, most of the time that will be too little too late, even if you could work out which way to mend in the first place.

Secondly the pockets are small and some degree of accuracy in the casting department is essential if you aren’t going to spend your time fishing on the tops of dry boulders. If you have spent your casting practice (you do practice don’t you?), on distance you are going to struggle in the pockets, short accurate casting is what’s called for and it is a heap more tricky than it looks, especially if there is a breeze.

Thirdly to control your drift you will need to get close, closer than you might imagine and that brings with it the issue of at least some measure of stealth. Tapping wading staffs and boulder rolling are unlikely to enamour you to the fish and despite the previous comments they can become more than a little skittish if you don’t approach the pockets carefully.

Also in the faster little nooks and crannies it isn’t as easy to see the fish, sometimes you can,  but if you can’t see a fish you should cover the water anyway,  you neglect to cast at your peril , even should no fish be apparent , many an incautious extra step has seen a trout bolt for cover just as your boot descends.

Finally perhaps the real inner battle for the angler is that pocket water fishing is of necessity bordering on inelegant, in fact on occasion some of the best presentations really are rather ugly which is why you never see the angler in advertisements battling away in amongst the stones. Art directors, like most anglers prefer the “shadow casting” format, even if it results in less fish in the net.

So how to go about it?

Pockets as I would define them can vary from the size of a shoebox, just big enough to hold a decent trout to a few square metres in area, they generally have more than one current lane in them flowing from different angles and the fish could be watching one or more of them for food.

The best pockets offer relative depth, that isn’t to say they are deep but there will be a divot in there somewhere to provide a sense of security and to allow the fish to keep under the current and save energy. Plus very many have a distinct lip which forms a pressure wave at the back of the pocket, the ideal place for a trout to balance on its tail whilst waiting for dinner. The best pocket water anglers always make a cast just above the lip before they head for the obvious water a bit higher up, the fish are often so close to the back that on hooking them they wash over the lip..

Softer Action Rods are better for fishing pocket water.

The best rods for fishing pockets are soft in action because you will be casting a lot of leader and very little fly line. Cane probably is the optimum but then pocket water streams are dangerous places for expensive cane rods and most anglers will have a light #2 or #3 graphite rod, often an older model that has avoided the marketing department’s rush to make every blank a stick. Despite the close proximity and tight spaces on many pocket water streams you don’t want a rod that is too short. Being able to reach is a distinct advantage and for me a rod between 7’9” and 8’9” is about right.

(I am not sure why but I can’t think of rods in terms of metres and I don’t care what the international standard unit of length is, fishing demands its own rules, rods in feet and inches, trout like babies should be measured in pounds and ounces).

The ideal tactic for most pockets is to fish a fly a tad larger than you would on the flat water and one that you can see , fish in pockets tend to be pretty cosmopolitan in their tastes and as said they will make their minds up fast. That isn’t to say a size twelve Royal Wulff is the way to go, but visibility is important you have seconds to pick up the fly or you are likely to miss the take.

It also pays to cast aggressively to gain accuracy but at such close range that could lead to poor presentation so a long leader is also an advantage. Even in tight pockets I rarely use a leader under fourteen feet. The long leader also allows you to “High Stick” that is lift the line off the water the moment the fly lands avoiding drag for the most part by near “dapping” the fly. The leader allows you to do so without dragging the pattern unnaturally on the water and in all but the worst gales you can gain near perfect drifts at close quarters doing this.

I simply adore fishing pocket water, it is all so close, you see the fish, the mouth open, the take all right in front of your feet, there is an intimacy to it lacking on the bigger water which I simply adore. It also happens to be deadly effective and because so many anglers walk past these tiny little apparently shallow pockets the fish are often less disturbed than in the pools..

I was once asked for some advice from a novice about where to fish on our streams and my, perhaps slightly terse response was this: “if it’s damp fish it”, you can get some surprises in pocket water and not all the fish are small and not all the best holes are deep. Given some practice you will get some pleasant surprises if you focus on the pockets, especially when the water is a bit low and the pools and glides are simply too still to offer you much of a chance.

Do Trout Learn?

November 17, 2009

This post sponsored by Inkwazi Fly Fishing Safaris

Thoughts on selectivity.

I have fished, for the better part of my angling career, on the crystal clear mountain headwaters in the Limietberg reserve outside of Cape Town. These are, in many ways, typical freestone streams, containing a self sustaining population of wild, if not actually indigenous trout, with good but limited insect hatches and water that rarely gets more than a little discoloured even in the heaviest rains.

In the early years the rivers allowed for catch and kill fishing, anything over ten inches was fair game, as likely as not going to end up in a pan with some almonds. Fishing pressure was relatively low and frequently the fish’s first mistake would as likely be its last. We fished these streams with a rapid and casual style, any fly large enough to see and buoyant enough to float well in the pockets would do, size 12 Rat Faced McDougals, Humpies and Royal Wulffs were standard fare.

Presentation was limited to chucking the fly back to the same spot if we missed a take, perhaps going into a slightly more focused crouch in preparation for the hook up, which was near inevitable.. The fish would always “come again”, and of course we were masters of the art. It wasn’t uncommon to head out for the day with little more than some 5X tippet, a handful of large bushy flies and the odd weighted nymph. The nymphs were of course a last resort for unexpected high water, we were dry fly purists and only resorted to fishing “bait’ in extremis.

It was at about this time that I wrote a piece about selectivity of trout, or to be more accurate, about the lack of it, suggesting that the primary reason for a trout’s refusal to eat one’s imitation was simply a reflection on the inability of the angler to present the fly properly. We weren’t entirely without finesse, if the fish were being particularly ornery we might even change the #12 Humpy for a #14, what we thought of as “fishing fine”.

As I have commented before, if you are an outspoken and rash writer you are going to get things wrong at least some of the time and on reflection I couldn’t have been more incorrect about the subject of trout selectivity. What we had was a near wild stream with catch and kill in operation and some really pretty uneducated fish. The fishery lacking both the angling pressure and the catch and release philosophy that would in time change things around.

The proverbial “lights” started to come on with the advent of catch and release fishing in earnest, something for which myself and a few other dedicated souls campaigned rigorously. As CAR became common practice, and then in fact regulated, things started to change on the streams.

A fish that would have previously not had the chance to survive its errors now had opportunity to change its behavior based on experience and over time change they did. Those suicidal charges of gay abandon at our overly large and hardly imitative patterns started to wane, even the fish which took the flies, if missed, rarely came back for a second time and we started to worry more about leader designs, tippet diameters and actually imitating the flies on the water some of the time.

Hopper patterns, favourites for years due to their size and visibility started to work less well unless there were actually hoppers about and the rise forms of the fish changed from obvious splashy affairs to subtle glints of light on the surface of the stream. The average size of the fish grew too and it became not uncommon to find fish up to 20 inches, making languid rolling rise forms to invisible insects, ignoring our offerings (Ignoring them even if you went to the extreme of a size 14 Humpy and stretched your budget to the inclusion of some 6X tippet.) Nope the fish were getting larger, more numerous and a mite smarter and there wasn’t anything much one could do to ignore the fact. It became obvious that not only do trout have the ability to be selective, in fact I would suggest that they always are to a degree, but that they can learn to be more selective. Or at least if not learn to be so, they can modify their behavior in a manner which can only be described in human terms as “learning”, even if it is in reality some subtle evolutionary trait.

So I had to swallow some crow and admit that trout can be selective, in fact trout are selective and there is a subtle difference between the two points of view.

Firstly it seems to me that fish are by default selective. That is to say that at one end of the scale they are selective enough not to eat bananas and on the other they could be selective enough only to eat the real insects, in which case they would prove uncatchable. I am now of the opinion that all fish are selective to some degree between those two extremes and that environmental factors, such as the availability of food, angling pressure and even the sophistication of the average fishermen all contribute to where on that scale the fish’s selectivity lies at any given time.

Running the risk of applying human logic and thought processes to a cold blooded creature of perhaps limited intellect one has to try to think about what would make a fish selective and what cues it may use to decide what to eat and what to leave well alone.

For the sake of the discussion, you will forgive me if it appears that I ascribe more intelligence to the fish than I should, but I simply don’t know of a better way of describing what one can observe on the stream. So if I use the term “thought” when discussing a trout’s behavior, it doesn’t imply that they are actually thinking in human terms, but then again, as said, it doesn’t imply that they are definitely not thinking either.

So hypothetically, a trout living undisturbed in a remote stream doesn’t really have to consider much about what it eats, one would presume that early in its development it would eat stick s and stones and leaves, various items of aquatic detritus and then recognize that it lacked any real food value.

Much as small children may eat crayons or sand, the fish would come to recognize what was good to eat and what not, what provided some energy and what didn’t. The mistakes easily resolved by the simple act of spitting out the offending article until a “résumé ” of edible items was stored for future reference.

The system isn’t perfect, I still have a friend who professes to like crayons, although these days he is discerning enough to only eat the black ones.

So I believe that not only would a fish end up with a library of good things to eat but also that the fish would have some “favourites” in the same way that some of us dislike olives but will go to some effort to get hold of smoked salmon for example.

One only has to witness the wayward and out of character manner in which some trout approach the limited calorific value of an ant to realize that they actually seem to particularly “like” some foods more than others.

So our hypothetical fish, growing up will do well to try different things, avoid predators and get on with the business of growing larger, its dining unsullied by the interruption of an anglers imitations to confuse the issue.

Catch and Release fishing definitely affords fish the chance to "learn" from their mistakes.

Enter the angler, (one may well say “tutor”), his less than perfect imitations are taken in by the fish, but the problem is that they are no longer as easily spat out should they prove unpalatable. In catch and kill waters, now for the first time, the fish no longer enjoys the safety of making a reversible error, one mistake and its all over with no chance to “learn” from its mistakes..

Still some fish will be hooked and lost, the larger fish and therefore ,in a wild environment by default the older fish, will have survived such encounters with anglers and their imitations and will prove more difficult to fool. Again this is standard angling folk law, the larger the fish the more difficult to catch, (except for those which are stocked large and where their size is no longer an indication of their relative experience and sophistication).

It would seem then that on a regularly fished catch and kill water most of the fish will not have the opportunity to learn and the rare few will become more tricky to fool as a product of experience, should they be fortunate enough to escape capital punishment for their early mistakes. Now when our hypothetical trout stream enters the realm of controlled catch and release, (something of which I am still a firm advocate it must be said), the fish get to make mistakes without inducing their immediate demise and therefore have at least the opportunity to “learn from their mistakes”.

It would seem logical that in this environment they would start to modify their behavior based on what is good or not good to eat, apparently edible food forms which result in a hook in the nose and the waste of a lot of energy running about trying to escape are likely to be avoided and over time a repertoire of signals that warn that certain “food items” might be suspect must surely accumulate in the same way as a repertoire of what is good to eat does..

Back to our example of disliking olives, you may eat the first one because it looks nice and other people are eating them, you may even try again assuming that perhaps the first one you had wasn’t a particularly good olive after all. But if you find that you strongly dislike the taste the second or third time you will eventually select not to consume them. The oval shape, olive colouration and the red pimento in the middle are all cues to you that it isn’t something that you want to eat and you will avoid them..

So it is , I am sure, the same with trout, they eventually build a repertoire of what is good to eat and what not and a variety of signals or cues which help them make that decision.. knowing what you can safely eat, must by default be a natural response for all animals on the planet if they are to survive. So I suppose that it behooves the angler to try to get some idea of what cues fish use to identify food and which cues might alert them to the idea that not all is well. I will discuss this further in a later post.