Trout fishermen doubtless have often been perplexed at their non-success after all known efforts have been employed - when on previous occasions they have been lucky in the very same water. The elusiveness of trout is very marked - that is, wild trout - in big water: rivers from four to ten feet deep and two hundred feet wide, more or less. We do not consider brook fishing in a foot or so of water containing trout that average six inches, but rather a river able to sustain large fish of four to six pounds, a river that contains ample fish food and abundance of aquatic insect life. Some fishermen, having but a limited experience, will often go to a river that is absolutely new to them, and the problem is how are they to begin, the time to fish, and to what parts of such a river it is best to devote their energies.
The angler of long experience has a fund of knowledge that gives him considerable advantage over the amateur. The expert will know at a glance (if conditions are fairly good) where to cast his fly to get a trout. The amateur will cast anywhere and everywhere over the water with more or less doubtful success. For my own part, I like best to fish a river that I am thoroughly familiar with, so that I can cover a long stretch of half a dozen miles in a day, skipping barren spots and choosing good ones as I go along. I know others (George La Branche, for instance) who much prefer a good short stretch and fish it thoroughly. I am not sure but what he is right; especially if he finds a stretch of water suited to his epicurean taste.
Every fisherman, if he has not already attained it, should cultivate the faculty of observation - that is, the training of the eye and brain in continued alertness in order to be equal to the trout in his cunning skill at evading capture. He should never permit his person to be seen by the trout; with a wide sweep the eye should cover the entire surface of the water, even beyond casting distance; at the same time alert to note what insects are on the wing. These are some of the first important duties of the angler on arrival at the stream. The most important duty of all is to examine the aspect of the river, the eddies, runways, currents, the speed flow, and particularly the different depths of water. By such knowledge you learn the haunts where trout hide, though you may not see them. The annexed plan is here given to point out the favorite haunts of trout (more particularly brown trout) in a clear running stream with rocky or gravelly bottom.
They are the tail of a stream - that is, the end of a little rapid, or swifter-running portion of the current, as from top D to A in the accompanying diagram; the junction of little rapids formed by water passing round an obstruction in the midst of the general current, as B; and such tracks as C, where a chain of bubbles or little floating objects indicates the course of the principal current - which, of course, is chiefly dependent upon various deflections of the water, by projecting banks, rocks, deep water passing swiftly along, and shoals, and may often be guessed at, when not sufficiently visible, by attending to the position of the banks. At roots of trees, or in places where the froth collects, and in little whirlpools, as G, and eddies, trout will often be found. All such places are by far the most favorable for sport; for insects follow the same course as the bubbles, etc., and are there sought by the fish. They never frequent sandy shoals as at 7. It will be most often found the larger trout are on the scours or shallows, as at D, in the night, chasing minnows and other small fish. The greatest number of large-size trout gather together behind one another just below a swift rapid, as at H. In the day they are cautiously watching for food in deep holes, under hollow banks, or roots of trees or in the angles of rocks, as E. In May and June, when fish are lusty and plump, they are also to be found in the more rapid parts of the water, as F.
These remarks, although not strictly applicable to the trout of every stream, will be found useful for such streams as the Esopus, Neversink, Wil-lowemoc, and Beaverkill, in the State of New York. This plan has been adapted to our use from one given in Ronalds's Fly-Fisher's Entomology, which specially refers to the English trout, Salmo fanio, the same species as our own brown trout.
Plan of current formations in a winding stream - the haunts trout choose to lie in in wait for passing food.
When you observe trout rising to feed, it is quite a simple matter to place your artificial fly on the spot, while the fish is down, and if properly placed, the right pattern offered, it will quickly respond, particularly if you cast up-stream. By so doing you take much less chance of being seen by the fish. But what we most desire to overcome is a situation when trout are not visibly feeding, which is most often the rule. A still more difficult problem is, in June, when insects are overabundant on the surface, to succeed in enticing the fish to take your imitation. There is still another situation where in July and August flies become scarce, and natural bait is being consumed on the bottom and at the surface. In this condition crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and small minnows can be floated down along the surface to good effect, and at the bottom the trout-hellgrammite, caddis-creeper, and nymph may be fished by my new method with much greater success than could be attained with the artificial fly which this chart is intended to assist.
After consulting Chapter XII, How to Use Nature Lures, we start in to fish down-stream at the surface with a cricket or grasshopper as bait attached to a six-foot leader, and cast out just the same as you would a fly. Standing on the sand-bar at I, you cast across-stream to D, let out line that it may float along the surface past the fish to F. Reeling in, you guide the bait along in past the tree-trunk to A. Still retaining the same position, you permit the water flow to take it along, guiding it to go in the path of bubbles, A, H, C, and G. You may skip the rapid, deep-water pool, and reel your bait slowly back to you, though at times you should give the bait a short jerk, and let it run back a yard or so; in other words, give as much natural-life movement to the artificial as the live bait naturally possesses. After reeling the bait entirely back, you may start over and repeat the cast, or walk down and take a position at C, then cast across the deep water to the first fish at the head of the rapid deeps and so let the bait float along the bubbles to F or below. Then work the bait back along the line of bubbles past the whirlpool, working the bait just inside the brook. Then let it run down again to F and back toward you along the bubbles past G to C.