READING THE STREAM -2

by Fly Fisherman

Throughout this website I’ve urged “observation”—that’s the answer and only you can do the observing.
Now that I’ve told you why it cannot be done I’ll reverse myself a bit and endeavor to briefly coach you on the basic situations so that you’ll have a smattering or a beginning from which to start your own study.

First, remember what we’ve said about the fish. Their most important instinct is for safety (they’ll leave their food source instantly if alarmed and their desire for comfort means little when the tiny mental bell tinkles danger.) So the hiding place or the locality where they’re likely to be is screened to some degree. Secondly, it must usually be a place near the dining room or the food channel, and next comes his comfort which means about the same to him as to us . . . not too warm and having ample oxygen which is tied up with cooler quarters. That means, likely, shade. Bright light isn’t desirable—he doesn’t like it, perhaps because he feels too exposed and when on rare occasions you will see trout resting in the shallows, apparently sunning themselves, they’ll scamper at the least provocation. Just the shadow of a falling leaf near them and away they go which indicates that they too have nerves. So our first guess is that we’ll find him in a sheltered location. This could mean under any type of object projecting over the water.

Overhanging bushes or shrubbery is a location often chosen because food morsels, young flies, bugs, spiders, worms, etc., many times lose their footing and drop on his table which amounts to an extra bonus not usually found in other residing places. Tree trunks extending from the land out over the water, if close enough to the surface, or partially submerged, affords an excellent hangout. If he chooses to hide himself in the water weeds it pretty generally is near an open channel where he can glimpse his luncheon tid-bits floating by, and those same weeds often supply him with tasty nymph and scud appetizers, secured with small effort, if he sees them. Rocks, large enough to permit a retreat under cover, is an apt site in which to find trout.
The rocks break the current which forms into slicks and eddys where he finds it easier to hold his position and the food is carried by the current close enough so that he can dart out, grab it and get back hardly before he’s been spotted by a real or imaginary enemy.

Where the stream narrows and the water flows through this neck, more or less unobstructed and as it again widens out and slows up one will usually find eddys forming at either or both sides. This is water softened of its force and a comfortable lie for the fish. From here they can see food traveling by, not difficult to secure and just a short, sharp movement back to the eddy.
The head and tail areas of stream pools are also good feeding spots if deep enough for protective cover or nearby to a protected sanctuary. Runs between white water, too, are favored locations from which many sizable trout are taken regularly if the lure is deceptive enough to allay suspicion.

At the bank edge, even in water only a few inches deep, when protected with overhanging grasses, reeds, etc., is an excellent possibility if the stream is not traveled too much by fishermen. Activity will scare the trout from this kind of cover because it is just “too close for comfort.
Edges of shelf formations in the stream where the depth of the water drops sharply from shallow to reasonably deep is a good course in which to present streamers and wet flies.
Just below spring outlets or feeder stream mouths, during the warmer weather, even if somewhat exposed, is always a good bet. Low water, warmed by the sun, is just a mite shy of the oxygen content demanded by trout, Brookies particularly, and as these cooler waters entering the main stream contain more of it that’s where he’ll be taking it in. In high water or during rainfalls don’t hesitate to work these little feeder streams, if permissible, for a few yards. It’s surprising where good trout will go sometimes for a snack of victuals coming at them in quantities.

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