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Ronan's report

Monday July 17th, 2006

It's a long term debate of ours over on The Board. On the one side there's Magnus, Jim, Carl and Bob, telling everyone that trout are just bags of chemicals, and on the other side there's me, telling everyone that they're not. And we've been doing this for about two years.

I'm going to tell you a story. This has only happened to me once. But it's a good one.

There's a lake near Queenstown, NZ, called Moke Lake. Moke is U-shaped and before it became a resort it was a good fishery. Early season - around late November - the fish are on green beetles, which drop off the trees and float around in rafts. South Island green beetles have dark bodies and a black bushy Bob's Bits is the perfect pattern. Mine are tied with seal and chopped up black deer hair.

Brown trout, as you probably know, can have "beats". They go round in circles looking for food. The bigger the fish the larger the beat. This is their territory and they have neighbours, who have their own beats. Sometimes they overlap, and sometimes they share the same beat. This is true the world over - at least as far as I can tell. It's certainly true here on Hebgen Lake, Montana, where I'm currently trying to get on them.

If you know this then you can do something about it. The way to fish the peninsular on Moke Lake is to slowly work your way through the forest looking for fish. When you spot a fish you quietly follow it looking for a tree you can climb. Then you let the fish bugger off and climb the tree. You lower your fly and wait....

So I had caught something like 5 fish doing this. And it's amazing, to be directly above your fly, watching your quarry - which back then were around 3 to 4 lbs (smaller fish now and less of them). To see your fish up close, watching his eyes as he finds your fly and eats it. Man, this is as good as it gets. You lower the rod to give the fish slack as he takes your fly - there's no leader on the water remember, set the hook and jump in. Awesome fishing.

Anyway, fish number six is a good one, maybe around 4. He's coming along the bank but he's changed direction slightly and is going to miss seeing it. So I give the fly one dibble. The tiniest of dibbles. The fish immediately homes in on it, almost takes, but instead circles around and is about to leave. I dibble again, and once more the fish almost takes before buggering off towards the deeper water, like a shot.

My heart is in my mouth, it always is at moments like this. I contemplate waiting for him to come around again, but what happens next shocked me (and is what this story is all about):

The first fish comes back from the direction he took off, but now he's not alone and there's another fish. They come straight up to the fly, fast, the second fish comes up to the fly to take it but the first fish pushes him away. Again he comes to the fly and again the other fish pushes him away. This all happens directly below me. Both fish then take off together and I never see either again.

Makes you think... doesn't it?

The other side doesn't like this because it doesn't fit with their theories on trout behaviour.

Gotta go fishing; it's Sunday night - I fish with Brandon on Sundays. I hope it's better than last night; Simon wasn't too impressed.


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