Every angler must be deeply interested in things that are new and likely to be good lures to entice either rainbows, brown trout, or natives - possibly all three - more especially so if we can get them to be effective when flies are useless, at times in early spring or hot midsummer. During the last two seasons the post-mortem examination of the stomach contents of many native, brown, and rainbow trout revealed to me the amazing fact that the identical creatures served as bottom food for trout caught in waters as far apart as Lake Edward, Quebec; Lake Kora, Adiron-dacks; and the Neversink River, New York.
Hence, we may fairly assume trout food to be more or less similar all over the northern zone, east or west, with few exceptions to be mentioned later on.
Doubtless many anglers are unaware that the greater part of aquatic insects while in the creeper state are not available as food for fishes, because they are out of sight burrowing in the mud or sandy bottom from three to eighteen inches deep below the water. The new-born wingless flies are soft in substance, of a pale lemon color, not acquiring their full coloration until some hours after reaching the surface. This feature is general in all the classes, and trout fishermen will often be puzzled to find that the same insects have different colors within the space of a few hours. Thus it is that myriads of insects are hatched on the bottom throughout the trout season, and by their daily appearance, travelling through the water to the surface, must naturally furnish abundant food close to where the fish abide, so that it is not at all surprising to find trout at different periods unresponsive to our dry flies on the surface, and even our wet flies just under the surface. Trout are then feeding on a wingless creeper, and a feathered imitation insect is not then wanted.
It is because of this important fact that I have made three new lures, the first ever made (so far as I am aware) for trout fishing under adverse fly-fishing conditions. No matter what part of the season, early or late, these creepers should be effective.
Besides the creepers I have named - trout-hell-grammite, caddis-creeper, and yellow nymph-creeper - I have also made a nymph-creeper in black to imitate the black dose insect, which appears about the middle of August, on wet days, when many of these black creepers may be seen climbing up the large boulders on the river side where they soon change to the adult state and take wing. There is also a dark insect for June which I call the "Chocolate," quite large in size but not nearly so abundant. These two imitations copy faithfully the creeper state as they exist in transit from the sub-imago to the imago state; viz., as they exist while on their voyage to the surface, there to emerge eventually and take flight as a perfect insect.
This new wingless nymph-creeper is the largest in size of the many species of drake, which, though they vary much in size and color, are exactly alike in form. The entire body of the artificial is strawcolor with the exception of the two undeveloped purple-blue wings. Being made of raffia and wound with yellow hackle, it will sink slowly to the bottom if cast down-stream, when it should be lifted now and then by a quick rise of the rod-tip, thus giving the creeper a lifelike movement in imitation of its ascent to the surface. If cast up-stream in fairly rapid water the cast need be no more than thirty feet, taking in line fast enough to keep the lure from being fouled. This creeper, along with the others, while very attractive, is not intended to replace the use of flies, but to fill the void during those times when trout are refusing flies.
All fly-fishermen are familiar with the case or caddis-worm creeper that lies on the river bed or clings to large boulders, sometimes in swarms. They have, like myself perhaps, picked out the worm from the case to try these live wrigglers for trout with more or less success. They are, when carefully hooked, wrigglers from Wriggleville, stay well on the hook, and are an entirely satisfactory live bait. In all natural trout streams both caddis and nymph creepers are abundant, furnishing considerable natural food in their season, and it is upon this particular kind of food that trout thrive and rapidly attain great size. For that reason I do not advocate the use of them as live bait, because it is more to the fisherman's interest to leave them to breed and multiply solely for trout food. If, however, we make our artificials suffice, we shall not rob the trout or other fish of their natural diet, which robbery, if carried to excess, will result in there being no trout to capture. However plentifully the rivers are stocked, trout must be supplied with food to grow and become more abundant. This truism I repeat constantly, yet not too often.
Caddis-flies are classed under the general head of "Duns' (trichoptera), which includes a large variety of species that may be placed in two well-defined families. The first consists of those larvae which make portable cases which they drag around with them wherever they go, of which the insect I name "Cinnamon," in Trout Stream Insects, is one of the largest species, and is here illustrated. The other class is composed of those larvae making fixed cases, generally attached to large stones, from which they issue in quest of food, and to which they return for rest. Each of these two divisions furnishes a vast quantity of bottom food for trout, which they eagerly devour, both creeper and case, as I have proved by many un-
Trout food from creeper to insect.
1. Green drake, adult (May)
2. Artificial green drake (May and June)
S. Green drake nymph-creeper (May and June) 4. Artificial nymph-creeper (May and June)
5. Adult cinnamon stone-fly (June)
6. Caddis-creeper of cinnamon stone-fly.
7. Case of creeper.
8. Artificial cinnamon stone-fly (June)
9. Artificial caddis-creeper
10. Adult orange stone-fly (July)
11. Stone-fly creeper named trout-hellgrammite
12. Artificial trout-hellgrammite 18. Artificial orange stone-fly. (July)
Note: All these creepers may be fished all through the season digested specimens found in their stomachs. The imitation caddis should be fished as near the bottom as possible at end of leader, along with the nymph-creeper tied on a three-inch snell placed above at about midwater, the distance apart being regulated according to the depth of water. A tiny grasshopper, cricket, or tiny terror minnow (all on No. 10 hooks) placed as upper or third lure could be attached to top of leader to attract trout to the surface. Such a combination has proved irresistible many times, especially down-stream fishing in swift water, or a fast runway through a long, deep pool. If the reader will refer to Chapter VII and consult the chart-plan he will at once know just where and how to work this triple-lure cast. Here you have three indestructible artificial baits for trout to last all season - with luck - that perfectly imitate different kinds of natural trout food, that provide a much higher art than worm fishing, and that are effective at any time, place, or season, with opportunity to cast and play the fish exactly the same as with the most approved fly-fishing methods. I can say here, personally, that my trout-fishing trips are a continuous delight, a constant happy surprise. Being well equipped with a selection of minnows, lures, and flies, I have no worries that they die or get lost. Snugly packed in separate boxes, I take out as I wade along the stream those lures I think most seductive, catch the fish, and have a jolly time. The third creeper is the trout-hellgrammite, which differs from the caddis and nymph in form as well as habits, being entirely a bottom creeper, one inch long (more or less) lighter and more olivebrown in color than the well-known bass bait, from which it differs only in feelers being absent along the abdomen; the head and thorax are broad and flat, of a rich brown color marked with irregular-shaped cream-colored blotches. The un-der-body is light straw-color, and the six stout legs attached close to the head enable it to move rapidly over or under stones or creep in sand or mud to hide from danger. It is mostly found in the deeper parts of the river bed, always a safe foraging place for larger fish. It does not rise to the surface like the nymph-creeper, but when ready to change from the creeper state crawls along the bottom bed to the sides, up large boulders or stems of aquatic plants.
How trout take underwater-creeper baits..