I think this tale illustrates that trout can be pretty dumb
when it comes to avoiding getting caught. It was a regular
day for me on the river Test. There was a cloudless blue sky
and the temperature was a warm 25įC and the wind was a very
light south-westerly. All in all, a pretty good day to be out
and about. However - the day stands out in my mind as the one
on which I made catching a trout a difficult and protracted
I had started the day as is my usual wont at the downstream end
of the island by the pool under the large Chestnut trees. I had
managed, largely by good luck and some pretty poor casting, to
take a one and a half pound trout from under the far bank on a
Blue Dun when my attention was drawn to a very splashy rise in
the middle of the river 50 yards up-stream level with the Alder
trees. As I watched for a minute or two, the rise was repeated
with the same splashy exuberance. I quietly moved up to get a
better view but when I got into position I could see nothing,
and the rise was not repeated. Whatever it was it had gone.
As I sat there, under the Alders thinking dark thoughts about
trout who quietly swim away when you wish to catch them, on the
far side of the river I saw a very nice looking fish quietly
taking something from just on the surface. I don't think this
was the same fish that was splashing about earlier. In fact
I'm certain it wasn't. Watching for some time I still couldn't
make out what it was that he was taking but I thought that if I
used a sparsely tied size 18 black fly I might provoke an interest.
(If in doubt go black and small).
The main problem as I saw it was not what pattern of fly to use,
but how to get it out to this fish when having to cast between
the two groups of Alders whose branches nearly touched overhead.
The number of flies hanging in these upper branches was testimony
enough to those who had tried and failed. My solution - which
I've used several times since - was to move near the downstream
group and cast my line horizontally. As long as one remembers to
keep power on the back cast there are not too many problems.
He said). The angle of cast required to put the fly on the water
ahead of this chap seemed to indicate that I had a slot of about
1 foot wide between my rod tip and the upstream group of trees.
Having never been terribly good at believing things are as difficult
as they look, I decided to have a go and cast to the trout in question.
With considerable skill and a high degree of talent, I like to think,
but reluctantly I suspect backed up by an even larger slice of good
luck, I managed to put my fly on the water about three feet in front
of the feeding trout.
He ignored it.
It was about ten casts later (Ten casts one could write a book about!)
that I again managed to put the fly in front of him only to see him
ignore it once more. I was convinced at this stage that this chap
would really like the fly that I was offering if only he would buck
his ideas up and realise it.
I cast once more and the fly fell two feet behind him. He turned
and took it. - I shall never understand trout.
My rejoicing was short lived however, almost before I had started
to play him the line went slack and he was off. To make matters
worse he went straight back to his station and started feeding again.
As he was now clearly throwing down the gauntlet the challenge was
accepted. Several casts later he took my offering once more. This
time I did manage to get him to the middle of the river before he
came off and swam back to his station.
This was obviously going to develop into a tactical battle. A pause
for some refreshment and to consider strategy was what was required
at this time.
Half an hour later, suitably refreshed, I once more found myself
with this fish on the end of my line, but this time racing off
up-stream like one possessed. This meant that I could not see
where he was because of the branches of the Alders almost touching
the river surface. The cunning of the beast had to be admired,
having allowed me to hook him he was now demonstrating that this
was only the opening gambit. By keeping my rod tip down also
almost upon the water I was able to avoid the line being caught
in the low branches and put pressure on at the same time.
Suddenly the line went slack and to my surprise this fish swam
very quickly down-stream just in front of me. I swear he smiled
at me as he passed.
Just as suddenly the line went tight again, he was still on.
He was now down-stream and under the Alder trees behind me.
After what seemed an eternity of gentle coaxing and the careful
use of epithets - probably only a couple of minutes - I finally
managed to bring him to the net.
A very nice two pound cock fish which required catching three
times on the same fly before calling it a day.
This incident is interesting in that here was a fish which was
well hooked on three occasions yet on the first two when it came
off it returned to its station and continued to feed. It shows
that it is always worth putting another cast to a fish even if
you do prick it. They don't always go away and sulk. Some of
them are pretty dumb. ~ Mike Pratt