LIVE BAIT FISHING FOR TROUT

by Fly Fisherman

LIVE BAIT FISHING FOR TROUT

You can take trout with a wet fly, nymph or bucktail, especially in water above 40°, and I’ll tell you just how to do it later on. Just now though, let’s see what is the best way to use the lowly but very fish-taking angle worm or minnow in conditions where live bait is the essence of what will work best for trout.
With live bait, the easiest method is to fish downstream. You fish either from the bank or wading, according to the water. Trout at this temperature are feeding near the bottom where the water is warmer and is not flowing so fast, and where most of the dislodged larvae, pupae and nymphs (different stages of stream insects), together with land insects and grubs, are floating down the current.
A 7-foot leader tapered to 1X (from about .015″ to .009″ in diameter) is a good type for live bait. You want a leader strong enough to lift a small or medium-sized trout out of the water if it’s so brushy you can’t net him. Also, in the places where you use live bait you ordinarily have to stop a fighting fish pretty short to keep from losing him under logs and brush or other obstructions.
The first thing for a beginner to learn—and some veterans, too—is to approach trout fishing as if you were hunting trout like you would hunt deer. You’ve got to get your bait or fly to the trout without the trout seeing you or knowing you are anywhere near him. Just because a fish lives in a different element—water—is no reason he can’t see you if you get in his line of vision.

TROUT VISION
A fish can see for a horizontal arc of 300 degrees, This means a trout can see horizontally in front, to both sides and for about 60° back of each shoulder. Because of light absorption by the water, a fish can not see horizontally in the water for more than 25 or 30 feet.
As a trout, when stationary, practically always heads upstream, you will see that if you can stay in the 60° arc of invisibility you can get quite close to a trout without his seeing you; but, if you are upstream from the fish you are after, then you’ve got to keep out of sight by some other means.
A fish is always at some depth under the water; fortunately for fishermen, the vertical vision of a fish doesn’t take in nearly as much territory as his horizontal vision. Because of refraction (the bending of light rays at the surface of the water) and other laws of physics that I don’t need to go into here, it is a fact that the vertical zone of vision of a fish is only 96° instead of the 300° horizontal arc.
Actually by refraction the trout will get a poor and greatly squeezed-together reflection of anything above the water level; but the closer to the water the less the trout can see. To anglers this means that the lower and the farther away you are the less liable a trout is to see you. The things a trout can see well are high objects close to him in front or at the sides. He does not see well anything that is behind him or close to water level. That’s why most dry fly fishermen wade in the water and cast upstream,
You can use these scientific facts about the vision of a trout in your fishing. Keep as close to water level as you can—and try to stay downstream from the fish you are stalking.

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