invisible fish

invisible fish

Tracy&James | Sunday, 9 August 2020

I’ve been out to the river Dee a couple of times over the last week or so, both trips were excellent with the fish more than happy to be looking upwards for their food despite there being only sporadic hatches of flies. As such, on both occasions I fished a single dry fly all day. My go to fly in such circumstances is a small Klinkhammer in an ‘insecty’ brown colour with a fluorescent wing post to aid (my) visibility. On many days on the Dee I’ve found this does the job of getting takes when there either isn’t any obvious hatch or I can’t determine what the fish are taking. I’ve also found that at some point the rises to this fly will completely dry up, usually when the fish switch on to a specific food source – quite often on the Dee, as the afternoon rolls on, this means locking on to the prolific sedge hatch.

During my first trip I decided to take a snack break whilst sat on a grass bank overlooking a very shallow glide of water.  Whilst eating I was watching a very small trout rising to take something pretty much invisible off the surface.  When I say I was watching a trout, actually I wasn’t – I knew it was there from the regular splashy rises but I absolutely could not see the fish despite it only being in three or four inches of water and less than a rod length from where I was sat.  From my slightly elevated position on the bank I could see every pebble on the bottom, even with the tea-stained water colour that is typical for the Dee.  After finishing my snack bar I decided I’d try and catch the fish, and sure enough it took the Klink first cast.  Admiring this four or five inch fish in my hand for a moment before the release, a thought struck me about just how perfect their camouflage is for the environment they’re in.  The deep brown across its back blending into black spots, each with a chrome halo, which in turn give way for red spots as the flank transitions to golden yellow before the white under-belly is a colour scheme that sounds like it should stick out like a sore thumb, but it doesn’t – somehow it works perfectly.

As I walked back to the car I was still pondering the colouration of this Dee trout.  It then dawned on me that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a trout in the river!  Sure, I know where they are when they’re rising, but I can’t recall ever watching a trout in that river.  You could suggest that perhaps I’m not the best fish spotter, however I don’t seem to have any issues on other rivers – even in the Elwy close to my home, which shares a similar colour ‘tinge’ to the Dee, the small trout can be spotted with relative ease especially if you stand and watch for a minute or two.  As such, I think there’s something special about a Dee brown trout – they’ve blended so perfectly into their background that they’re invisible.

Hopefully I’ll get out again soon to not spot some fish.  All the best,