It's been a little while since I have written anything in this section. The storyboard is of course a fantastic idea, but involves an immense amount of work. I have two storyboards in my mind but neither of them really says exactly what I want to express and each takes about three days to put together. If I had three days available I'd go fishing. Right now I want to get some more information into this section and the most important thing of all is…
Many anglers in the UK start their flyfishing as lake fisherman. Stillwater fishing in the UK teaches you many things, however stealth is not one of them. It should do of course; creeping around the edges and approaching every situation with caution and care will catch many more fish. It is possible on lakes to get within a rod length of the fish, assuming that (a) you know what the hell you are doing and (b) someone else hasn't spooked all the fish for you.
On rivers it's harder. Reared trout are used to man's presence and consequently are tame and are approachable. Wild fish are neither. Of course many rivers are stocked as well; this section is not about such waters, this section is about flyfishing.
Although it is not always the case, it is always best to consider the trout to be spooky as hell. By this I mean that if it was to become aware of your presence, it would immediately stop feeding and become invisible. It really is like this in some places.
Although not always. Sometimes a trout can become so used to being fished for that they will happily continue feeding, even while you are repeatedly casting to it. Let me say something here, although these fish can be approached with less caution, it is far better to approach them with stealth, since a fish that is unaware of you is off-guard. That first cast you make to any fish is always the most important.
As well as being important when fish can be seen feeding off the surface, the approach actually becomes more important when the fish are feeding deeper. Due to the fact that a surface feeding fish is otherwise engaged and looking for something in close proximity to it's mouth, he is less likely to notice you than a fish lying deeper and looking further afield.
The focal length of a trout's eye is either 18 inches or three feet (I can't remember off hand – but I will find out! Ben from the bulletin board is studying fishery science and so has a wealth of knowledge of all fishy related things). Anyway this means that everything from this distance to infinity is within focus. Therefore a fish lying 18 inches (or three feet) deep, focussing on the surface, will have you in focus.
(Ben says: "I always thought the short focal length of a trouts eye was around 60cm (2ft)" and " on a recent field trip I woke up to find the caberet singer from the night before (don't ask) in a state of undress at the foot of a tiny caravan bed, I haven't got a clue what went on (more's the pity) but soon forgot about it when a mate walked in and I realised I'd glued zonker strips to his eyebrows when he passed out the night before." )
It's gets even more exciting than this when you consider the refractive properties of water; light bends when it passes through the water surface. This time I really need an underwater camera… it will be done (promise), in the meantime you will have to go swimming underwater and look upwards (hold your nose – and breath).
An alternative of course is to look through the water surface from above, but this is stuff that you learn in school when you are eleven, or before when you fall out of the bath.
Here is a diagram straight out of the stillwater section.
Of course if you can see the trout's eye, it can see you. The important thing here is to remember that you are looking for it and it is very unlikely that it is looking for you. This said it is important not to give him cause to look for you.
Trout have sensitive hearing and sound travels extremely well below the surface. In addition to having ears they also have a lateral line; which is a line alongside their flanks that is sensitive to underwater vibrations (which we call " sound " of course).
And they can smell too. I used to believe that this was unimportant until I met Jim Curry AAPGAI. While in NZ a group of us watched him spook trout downstream by recklessly wet wading upstream. It is true that Jim smells pretty bad, but apparently even if this was not the case, and he just smelled a little bit say, the trout would have been aware of his presence.
Eels have the highest developed sense of smell and the ability to detect one molecule with their noses.
Trout see in colour, this we know. We also know that they can see colours that we can't see – even with the benefit of hallucinogenics. Basically if you are not lying in a ditch, moving with the stealth of a hunting cat, carefully blended into the background; you are going to make life very difficult for yourself, probably catch nothing and miss the whole point.
In the next instalment I will describe how to lie in a ditch, how to think like a cat and what clothes to buy from the tackleshop.