Monday, October 10, 2011

Dumb Fish

In Jurassic Park the main characters avoided the T-Rex by holding still. I can relate a lot to the T-Rex because when I'm fishing I look for any movement what so ever. A familiar silver flash, a irregular break in the current, the sound pattern of the water changing because of a sploop sound. All of these are ques for me to find fish. I once talked about sight fishing for trout with a guide. I went into detail about one of my favorite scenarios. It starts out with spotting the fish from a distance then working my way into position and make what I think is a perfect cast and the fish seems to follow my actions like a puppet. The guide listened intently then said "You know most intelligent fish won't hang out in the open like that. That's not a very efficient survival behavior. That fish was probably mentally ill."  At first I didn't know whether to take offense to the comment or agree with his logic. One great thing about seeing fish is you can watch their behavior when your fly comes near them. This gives you a great insight and knowledge to things that are many times hidden from view. For me these are some of the best times. It's like watching an interactive show that is only on display for you. The fish may follow your fly down stream or strike at it instantly. The best is watching a fish charge your fly or follow it with a vengeance. The fish might make several slashes maybe one out of hunger but probably more likely out of anger. The whole ordeal is fascinating and I never get tired of it.

Yesterday I fished a Designated Harvest trout stream. Hatchery trout often get the label of ignorant will hit anything, are no challenge, any one can catch them fish. The scenario I faced is why these fish get this label. Sometimes after stocking the fish will not leave the general area. In one place I check out rarely the fish literally do not leave with in 100yds of where they are stocked. Of course you get a few that are smart and decide to skedaddle to safer areas but the majority sit back and watch as many of their friends are hauled away involuntarily. Maybe they are comforted by the friend being thrown back minutes later, hopefully unharmed. I approached one section and my expectations were met with anglers standing just far enough to not be in each others cast. You could see the fish from the trail hanging out in glass pools where any osprey or eagle could pluck them for lunch. I was amazed that one usually popular spot was open for fishing. I walked in the water not worrying too much about stealthy wading. In the run I could see purple objects that stood out from the river rocked bottom. Those are the trout and they are what everyone is here for. I tried to go some what classy first. I consider myself a decent fly fisherman and even though I don't think I'm above using wooly buggers I wanted to try catching fish with a midge pattern or something insect like first.  I had no indicators so that would add to the challenge some too. I used a dropper set up and after I missed a few hits and figured out the drift I had a fish on. The trout didn't fight very hard and it gave up with in seconds.
  That is another thing about DH fish since they are released and fished so heavily it's not uncommon to catch a fish that has been caught a couple times earlier in the day. This causes the fish to become super fatigued and they don't fight well. After a few trout the fish seemed to ignore my fly. Another common thing for DH fish. Many times if you change the fly you'll catch a few more and you repeat this pattern. This day I decided to take it a whole different way. The fish are considered dumb but lets think about this. These fish have been raised to think humans are what feeds them. On top of that most of these fish probably associate people with food. Does that make them dumb or a victim of circumstance? As I pondered this I thought about the food part and pretty much how these fish think.  They will most likely hit anything they think is food or just out of curiosity. I had a fly my friend tied me for smallmouth. This thing was about 2 1/2 inches long with dumbbell eyes and rubber legs.
Not your average trout fly. I cast that out and on my second cast I had my biggest fish of the day. I could see everything, my fly hitting the water, the action of how my strips made the fly work. I saw the fish charge from the bottom and slam the fly. This fish seemed fresh like it hadn't been caught before. It was a plump 13inch brookie and it was starting to show its fall colors. I had so much fun with that experience I fished with the clouser the rest of the morning. I realized this a long time ago but it was made more evident that morning that visual fishing for me is where it's at. It is no wonder why I love sight fishing so much. Popper fishing for bass, blue gill top water fishing, carp flats fishing and sight fishing for trout. So for me bring on the dumb fish. I can have fun catching them all day.


  1. Bring them on. Dumb or smart, I'll take them any way I can get them. Some days is give just about anything for just one dumb fish.

  2. Sounds like you had a good time to me. That sounds like a lot of fun. Any day on the water is a good day ;) That Brookie looks like a beast, wild or not. On these creeks around here sight fishing usually spooks the fish a lot, due to the small size of the water. Lots of crawling around on the knees and knowing where the fish usually sit. I would like to fish a river some day by sight fishing. Exciting I'm sure. Tight Lines.

  3. Good point, that "dumb" is all in how you look at it. And in certain cases *(most?)....we, are the ones who make them so.

    Excellent post.

  4. Kev
    Sight fishing can be one of the most rewarding things on the water, the clouser you was using is one killer looking fly. The colors is fall all over.