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All species of trout need Food, Shelter and Oxygen in order to sustain their population. From these basic needs the most valuable, in my opinion, is shelter. I know that many anglers will argue with this fact. One angler I spoke to recently said that Food is paramount. Well, thatís a valid point. Without food Ė Obviously, fish turn belly up but really, food is of no real value with regard to survival, as the trout and numerous other species can go a great length of time without any form of food. Oxygen is a key factor of course, and certainly is everything.
Shelter is security and a trout cannot hide in fear and feed at the same time. A totally frightened trout will think of one thing Ė to run and hide. Heís not thinking about food or even his hunger, heís far to busy being scared and will not expose himself to danger. So, if you spook a fish, resting a fish has itís reasons!
I know that not many will argue that Spring sees the best of the best. Sea run brown trout that are not afraid to show themselves. Surface feeding, splashes, and ripples are a common sight as the water temperature slowly increases after the cold winter. At certain times, some will come into the shallows to feed.
No reason is warranted to wade out up to your nostrils to hook these silver critters. Just standing on the shore and casting into water no deeper than a knats love muscle can be just enough. I canít remember the last time I got my waders wet above the thighs. If anything, this past week has seen my catches in just knee deep of water. Such is life.
The weather just lately has reminded me of my mothers moods - Ever changing. The wind has blown from every direction and always seems to sense where I am throwing the fly around, and blows directly in my face with force. I tell you, itís all a conspiracy! Despite a few teething problems with numerous projects and general chores, finally, I got into the water this week with some pleasing and promising results. Regardless of a technical hitch with my waders, I managed to overcome the rather big damp patch with a roll of industrial tape and a little talk with a close friend - Jack Danielís. Having taken 2 nice sea run brown trout both just around the 1kg Ė 2.2lb mark and felt the tug of something un-weed like, my hopes for the coming year are high. No doubt the coming months, Denmarkís peak season, will bring more tight lines in the salt.
Last year, I spent the best part of my time guiding. Being a firm believer in observation and stalking fish which, incidentally takes me back to the days of my military antics, rolling around in the undergrowth with rabbit droppings smeared on my face, giving of a body-odour that leaves one feeling dizzy, I always spent good time patrolling the waters, getting a feel of the situation and generally enjoying the whole experience.
So, onto the story. I became acquainted with a rather fat brownie that laid under an old broken tree. Day after day, free time permitting, I'd return to the spot, rabbit droppings on face, only to watch this fish shoot under the stream bank, tongue out, as soon as I got within 20 feet. It never even nibbled at the night crawlers, nymphs, flies, cheese burgers and onion flavoured crispy potato rings that drifted past its lair.
The memory of that fish has haunted me. What intelligence did it possess that I could not outwit it? Unlike certain browns of my guiding waters that fairly commonly school within casting distance, why did this beautiful phantom, a fish with my name, address, telephone number and latest chocolate muffin recipe on it, flee my every offering? I had tried every imitation of insect that lives and dies by the waters in Denmark. Even a few rather ugly dry flies and nymphs. Nout!
However, I did come up with one suggestion that could of figured why this brownie ran from me. The answer was a mirror. What, I hear you say? A mirror? Iíll explain as best I can in Laymanís terms. Probably few fishermen understand that the unique interplay of light and water gives the fish an interesting visual advantage.
When light enters the water at other than a vertical angle, it is refracted by the water. Physical laws say that light penetrating the surface of the water is always refracted at 48.5 degrees and light reflecting into the air is bent at the same angle. This angle defines a "cone of vision" that allows fish to see into our world. The fish's cone of vision -- which has been described as "like looking up from the throat of an imaginary funnel" - is 83 degrees. As the fish goes deeper, the fish's window of vision to the outside world grows bigger. A fish in shallow water can see only things quite near to it, but in six feet of water the fish can see five feet in every direction. What this cone of vision means to the practical-minded, clued in, switched on angler is that the fish can often see you even if you can't see it. Yes, that's right ... even if your line of sight view of the fish is obscured, light carrying your image is bent so that the fish can see you. The cone of vision is not the only "trick of the light" that gives a fish visual clues.
And what did for me was hiding behind a fallen tree and reaching the rod over a limb. Because the water surface (meniscus) was relatively smooth, my fish looked up and saw a mirror-like image of the bottom. By looking to this "mirrored ceiling," (kinky bugger), Mr Brownie saw "through" obstacles and knew if prey or predator were behind the next sunken log. In this case Ė An angler with rabbit droppings smeared on his face.
Although fish don't have exceptionally keen eyesight, fishermen shouldn't discount their ability to assess their environment. Just because something runs from shadows doesn't mean it's any easier to catch!
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