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Trout stalking page 2


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Few, who have even an inconsiderable experience of Loch Leven, can have failed to discover that the trout there frequently behave in a manner which at first may prove rather disconcerting, but which, after it is understood, adds largely to the interest of their capture. Indulgence in the habit is manifested principally when surface food is present in fair, not superabundant, quantity. The trout travel quickly, not directly against the wind but diagonally tip and across it; they rise at intervals on their route, and as a rule are easy to lure. They do not select calm weather for the display, as some might suppose; it is more likely to be seen while a fine fishing breeze curls the water. If the angler places his lies across a rise, the fish is not there to receive his offering, but a yard or two farther on its course; he must therefore not aim for the mark, but for the point where he imagines the trout is due to arrive.

In quiet pools of rivers trout at times similarly roam about; but they are decidedly leisurely in their movements; they do not travel at so great a pace nor so far as those of Loch Leven. It is generally only when they are sampling tiny diptera or watery duns that they set out on a cruise in the circumscribed area of the pool. The angler who decides to test his skill on these particularly worthy trout - we holt the cruiser in the highest esteem - must be prepared to exercise to the full the patience with which anglers are supposed to be endowed beyond all other mortals.

He must not be rash in taking cover: the object of his desire is not a stationary trout but a rover. It is consequently more difficult to stalk, as it may, at some point of its circuit, catch a glimpse of the incautious intruder. If he succeeds in remaining invisible, he has scored one victory, itself praise worthy; but the other, and by far the greater, will never be his, if he lays his fly over the rise; he must judge where the trout will next arrive, that is to say, his fly must reach the water at the right spot and before the rise.

An hour or two spent on a bridge over a streamy pool when trout are feeding is time well spent; but anglers are generally, in such circumstances, more anxious to fish than to acquire knowledge that will add to their sport during subsequent rises. There is a great deal to see and to learn. A trout raises itself towards a fly floating overhead, backs downstream in close proximity to it, till finally, a foot or more from its original position, it takes courage and gulps down the struggling insect. It then returns to its post. The angler's lure placed on the rise will be unseen, but, if cast above it, it may succeed in bringing the fish up. It is obvious that the fly may be delivered too soon.

Another trout discovering a fly some distance to one side shoots forward and seizes it. If the artificial fly covers the rise while the fish is on the return journey, the rise will not be repeated. More over the cast will more than likely fall over the returning trout, effectively scaring it. A few seconds' delay In such a case is advisable. Of course, movement of this kind, which seems to be confined to brisk streamy water, cannot be clearly seen when one is engaged in fishing, but under certain conditions of water and sky it can be detected, and it can always be guessed.

In the strong current at the neck of the stream a fish hurls itself upon a fly, is thrown off its balance, and is carried down for quite an appreciable distance. It must be allowed time to recover its position before another fly i: offered. It would appear that the fish concentrates all its attention on securing its prey and cannot at the same time retain its place. From these considerations we conclude that in streamy water the angler should be slow rather than quick to send his fly out, and that he should place it from one to two feet, according to the strength and nature of the current beyond and above the point indicated.

In still or gently gliding pools trout, except when cruising, seem to prefer waiting for the fly to be brought to them, and selecting only such as give them the minimum of trouble to secure; they are not so violent in their attacks, rising quietly, and sometimes scarcely disturbing the surface at all; they do not move to one side or another as they do ci faster water. We find, or think, it pays best to lay the fly on the rise or only a few inches beyond it; but again it is well to consider whether it should be done at once or delayed. We have, not once but on numerous occasions, seen a trout rising with such regularity and at intervals so small that the rings from consecutive rises interfered with one another. In such a case the fly could be delivered at any time, as the trout must be poised very close to the surface, but to succeed the artificial would have to be a very good imitation of the natural insect on the water. In more usual circumstances it is better to postpone presenting the fly, so that the fish may have time to sink to its position, that is until it is again on the look-out.

It will often be noticed that when the Ephemeridae are hatching they arrive in comparatively small detachments. A good trout will secure for itself the best position its prowess can command, and collect as many specimens as it can while the hatch lasts; it then descends to swallow and digest. The angler should not enter into competition with the flies, if they are numerous, or lay siege to the trout while it is busy taking down the insects. He may; but, as suggested in the preceding paragraph, his success will largely depend on the excellence of his pattern. He should wait, if he can, until lie sees the next company coming along, and arrange that his fly is at their head to show them the way.

Again, on a breezy day on the moorland, trout similarly receive their food in a series of courses; they are not particular as to species, welcoming anything that the wind may chance to bring along. The angler likewise need not concern himself at all about the pattern on his cast, but he will find it a very good plan to delay sending it forth until he sees the next gust waving the grass of the holm, driving before it a varied assortment of moths, midges, froghoppers, and the rest.

The successful stalker, who has marked down his fish, reached his chosen stance without betraying himself, identified the accepted species of fly, delivered his copy lightly on the surface at the right place and at the correct moment, raised, struck and hooked his trout, is liable to came forth from hiding in order to finish the conflict. In so doing he is guilty of two mistakes. He ought to remember that a hooked trout is more easily managed, less inclined to bolt for shelter in weeds, if he remains invisible. Also he should think not exclusively of his captive, but of the other trout the pool contains, one or two of which he may yet hook, if he studies to keep the victim away from their vicinity and himself concealed from their keen eyes.

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