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On wading

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For every individual angler there is a certain length of line with which he can execute his neatest, most delicate, and most accurate casts, and. whenever he observes a trout rising, he will naturally want to bring himself to such a point that the distance between him and the rise is that at which he is most expert.

He understands, of course, that every yard of line used outside that favourite length imposes upon him a handicap with which he would much rather dispense. Sometimes he can arrange matters to his liking by a cautious advance upon the bank, but even the greatest care will often not prevent his discovery, whereas by wading he can in tin; majority of cases reach the spot desired, and reach it, moreover, without giving the trout a hint of his presence and intentions.

It may be taken as axiomatic that no pool of stream in a river will fish equally well from both sides at the same tune. The two banks are never precisely the same; the current usually sets to one side or the other and the water is not of uniform depth all over. On one day the trout may be feeding on the shallow side, on another in the depths below the high bank; they may be hi the centre of the pool, at the tail, or at the neck; their situation depends on the type of food which is available.

When they are expecting the gravel-bed fly, for example, they are congregated near the edge, especially in such pools as chance to have the gravelly bank on the windward side. When creepers are assuming the winged state, the trout crowd the neck of the pool. If the day favours the hatching of duns, the shadow of the high bank and the rippling entering current are greatly favoured, while if a good breeze is blowing, and nothing in particular is expected, the tail of the flat is sure to be well tenanted. The angler, therefore, desirous of the best sport possible under the conditions, must know where to expect the trout or discover, by observing the rises or other means, their whereabouts, and plan his campaign accordingly.

If the trout are not confined to any particular area, but are rising in all parts of the pool, he need not even then conclude that it is immaterial which bank he fishes from; one side is almost sure to be better than another in that it offers an easier approach. There may be a bush to provide cover, or it may be that the background of one bank confers invisibility. As the day progresses, the superiority of one side may or may not be continued. It may be transferred not so much be cause the sun may throw the angler's, shadow up the stream; but because, owing to the water being differently illuminated, the trout are enabled to learn that they are being attacked. Still we know pools, mostly narrow pools, fast-flowing and broken, which invariably fish best from the same bank, not the one that would be selected by an angler desiring easy wading and casting, but the opposite bank, high and crumbling. The reason is that the trout always lie at the tail or in the strong current among the masses of grass-topped earth torn from the bank, and it is quite impossible from the shallow side to float a fly over them with out drag.

The conclusion, therefore, is that the angler must wade, no matter how small may be the stream he is fishing, in order that he may cross from one side to another, whenever knowledge of the water or his experience of other waters tells him that it is advisable to do so. He should, of course, exercise some care in the selection of a ford, and have regard for his own sport and that of others.

There are objections to wading, and certainly waders can be abused, but abuse is due to thoughtlessness, not to design. An angler wading carelessly up a stream can ruin for an hour, and in some waters for many hours, the sport of anyone following after him: but so can one who fishes from or even walks upon the bank. That fact does not excuse anyone, and we should say that of the two the wading angler is the less likely to disturb the water. Frequently we have had trout rising immediately behind us and within a yard or two on every side, which seems to prove that quiet wading upstream does not alarm the fish. Splashing about in the shallows will, however, send the trout fleeing in all directions, and being quite an unnecessary proceeding, it should be dispensed with; it entirely removes all possibility of success from everyone, including the offender himself.

When the angler enters a pool lie should imitate his fellow-angler, the otter, and slip stealthily into the water, taking care not to raise a wave before him. It is possible to capture trout in absolutely calm, shallow water, both during the day and in the evening, if precautions are taken not to give the trout a hint of the presence of an enemy. Even to walk on the gravel is fatal; they must be fished for from deep water on the; opposite side, and very pretty sport it is, giving the angler every reason to be well pleased with himself, if he scores a triumph; to assail them from the top of the far bank is to invite defeat, in fact victory is then quite impossible.

There is no question that wading may easily be and often is overdone, some anglers apparently counting it their greatest happiness when they find it just within their powers to withstand the force of the current or the uplift of the water. It may be very picturesque, but, except in very rare instances, it is wholly unnecessary. If they reached such dangerous depths only after searching thoroughly the water nearer their own bank, they might be excused, but some arc actually in the habit of commencing operations from mid stream. The trout do not all lie: under the far bank; there may be anglers coming on unfurnished with waders, and it does not put them in a hopeful frame of mind, when they see their flies alighting when; another man has just been floundering.

It is mostly the downstream wet-fly fisher who is guilty of this offence as, by putting a large body of water between himself and his intended victims, he hopes to keep his presence unsuspected; but this he would effect with much greater comfort to himself and less annoyance to others, if he would turn about and face upstream. As we have indicated above, quiet wading seems to have little or no influence on the trout round about; but it is somewhat difficult to believe that, no matter how often they appear unconcerned, and therefore, since an angler who has lost hope is unlikely to gain success, we think that the practice could well be discontinued to the advantage of every one.

Wading is not unattended with danger; an incautious step may lead to disaster and a sudden termination to a spell of good sport. It is more probable that one will omit to take care when things are going well than when the trout are dour and look without favour on the flies. Attention is in such circumstances directed entirely upon the great opportunity, and other matters are neglected.

Some of our rivers are characterised by ledges of rock on which one may walk easily and in com fort for many yards on a smooth surface only a few inches under water, but the path is narrow and its end abrupt; black depth awaits a hasty step. In other rivers there are other perils, chief among which is yielding gravel. On the Clyde there are many deep pets whose sides are steep, almost vertical, and the gravel surrounding them is small, loose, and crumbling; on the Earn there is at least one such place. It is well to know them and treat them with respect, but the angler in his eager ness is apt to forget, until his feet begin to slip from under him.

In summer, when the streams become low and the stones assume their slimy slippery deposit, wading is far from comfortable, and every step must be carefully undertaken, but we forget all troubles whenever a good Jul}' trout sucks down the floating fly and splashes wildly about, while we inelegantly scramble towards the bank, the better to answer its wiles.

The numerous drains, that bring water from the hills to lochs and reservoirs, form traps for the unwary angler. Usually they are cut far late the still water, and generally they are filled up with soft mud; it is easy for him to see and avoid them, when he is not intent upon other things; but a trout, rising just out of reach down the bank, may hasten his steps, and a drain may stop them with unpleasant suddenness. Still, we all take risks gladly, and it is wonderful how often our eyes happen to look downwards just when they should; we shudder, and retire, and carry on again.

Waders may prove useful in unexpected ways. They may enable the angler, for example, to retrieve a fly, the killing pattern perhaps and the only one in his possession, consequently of infinitely greater value than all the remainder of his varied collection if, by some momentary awkwardness, or by an unlucky cast in a place bristling with difficulties, t should be firmly hung up. Again they may be the means of securing for him a goodly trout firmly hooked and almost beaten which, in its final burst for liberty, contrived to get to weed, a trout that may prove to be his record fish.

We know no disadvantage in waders; they are hot, heavy and uncomfortable, but we are quite unaware of it, while we are engaged in fishing; it is only when we are condemned to walk in them a mile or two on the road that we notice these unfortunate features. Seeing that they are so valuable to the angler, he should take care of them, drying them inside and out as soon as possible after a day's fishing, and they will last for several seasons.

Therefore we counsel the angler to wade, but to remember at the same time; that the pool that is yielding him sport can yield him more, if he will exercise as much care over his wading as he does over his casting, and that following in his wake are other anglers who also hope to find happiness beside the river.

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