Copyright 2015 James Marsh
Hiding From Trout - Part Two
If you really want to learn a lot about what spooks trout, and how well they can see and hear you, do right the
opposite of what you should do. See how many trout you can spook. Spring creeks are perfect places to do this. It
is easier for you to see the trout and easier for the trout to see you. You can see the reaction of the trout,
whereas, in freestone streams, trout can flee without you ever seeing them. We have experimented with this
several times and I believe we have picked up a few things we would not have otherwise learned.
The first thing I noticed was that when I was level with the stream about 40 feet away in full view of a trout, yet not
noticed by the trout to the point it would flee, I could wave my arms without spooking the trout. Waving my arms
and fly rod didn't seem to make any difference in the reaction of the trout. I would be well within its line of vision
standing on a bank, not below it. If I started walking to my left or right, the same trout would shoot under the grass
to hide. I think that was because they could not see my arms well enough for the movement to get their attention
but when my body moved, they could see what was going on. That is only a guess. There is no real proof of that
theory, of course. I tried the same experiment on several trout and the result was always the same. The movement
of my body got a different reaction than the movement of just my arms.
If I stayed low on the ground and slowly stood up within about twenty feet of a trout, I could get by doing so most
of the time without spooking the trout. However, when I would do the arm waving deal, they would all take off every
time. That told me that it was next to impossible to cast to a trout that close too me without spooking it if it was
looking in my direction. It also told me that if you move very slowly the trout didn't spook as much as they do when
you make sudden movements. I could do the exact same thing, approaching a trout from its rear, and pull it off
without the spooking the trout. The difference the blind spot to their rear made became very obvious.
I have tried moving up on trout in spring creeks about every way I could think off. I found that much of the time, I
was spooking trout rather than trying to catch them. I previously have attempted to show, on camera, the different
reactions from the trout for various scenarios. It didn't turn out very easy to do, by the way. Some of the things I
discovered fooled me, but in most cases I was able to guess what would happen. That makes me think common
sense goes a long way in approaching trout.
I have kicked rocks just to see the reaction of the trout. I have stomped the ground with my feet. I have yelled as
loud as I can yell and done a number of sound test on trout in spring creeks. That did fool me. They can hear
much better than I thought they could. You can drop a rock on another rock in the stream and send every trout in
sight fleeing. Try that from one of the high banks along a stream and watch the reaction.
Spring creeks taught me a lot about approaching trout. You must be able to do so successfully or you are not
going to catch any trout. Blind casting is a waste of time in spring creeks unless you are fishing a riffle section of
the stream. I love fishing spring creeks because it does teach you a lot about the reactions of trout and a lot
about being able to fool and catch them.
This would apply to the Firehole River since it is in effect a spring creek. Its springs just have hot water coming
from them. Granted, there are many other differences. Spring creeks are perfect places to learn how trout react
to movements and sound. You can clearly see what spooks trout and what you cannot get away with. You must
stalk trout to catch them. You do not blind cast because you can see everything in the water. In one case, I was
moving closer and closer to a large trout casting all the time with the camera looking over my shoulder.
Another good place to learn to hide from trout is Silver Creek, Idaho, one of our favorite streams. We have fished
this beautiful creek several times and we have learned a lot about trout doing so. You rarely catch a trout you
don't first see. If the wind is not blowing hard, you will be looking at the trout you are casting to every time.
Knowing what spooks trout, what you can get away with and what you can not get away with, goes a long way.
We learned that the surface of the water makes a huge difference in what the trout can and cannot see above the
water. If it is smooth without ripples, you are seen by the trout much farther away than you are seen when the
surface of the water is disturbed by current or wind. That is another reason you can get closer to the trout in
riffles and runs than you can in the smooth water of a pool or pockets along banks and behind boulders.
Fish holding in deeper water will spook much quicker than those holding just under the surface. I think this is to do
with their window of vision but it could also be a result of what the trout are concentrating on. When they are only
inches deep feeding in current, they are looking for tiny insects. You would think they would be keenly aware of
what was around them since they are in an exposed position but they don't spook as easily as they do when they
are holding in water a couple of feet deep. When they are holding inches under the water, they don't see insects
in the water until they are within inches from their nose. This is due to their small window of vision.
Wading can help you catch more trout in some cases, but before I discuss when and where it can help you, let me
give you a fair warning. Wading can also prevent you from catching trout. It is an easy and fast way to spook
trout. The trout can see you under the water and above the water. They can hear your boots scrape the bottom
or move some sand and gravel. If you are in calmer water such as a pool, your wake can spook trout. Never wade
unless it is necessary for you to get into position to make a presentation to areas of the water you think are
holding trout. If you can reach those areas and get a good drift from the bank, by all means do so. Every time you
wade you are taking chances on spooking some trout that you may have been able to catch from the bank.
The problem with everything I have said so far about wading is that it is often and very common that you will not
be able to present your fly to areas of the stream that are likely holding trout without wading. One thing that
makes it almost impossible to cast from the bank is the heavy growth of trees and bushes along the banks of
some of the streams. In some areas there is timber growing right up to the banks of the streams. They do keep
you from casting along the banks in many cases.
Now, don't take this wrong. Just because there are some trees along the bank don't mean you can't cast from the
bank. You can make all kinds of creative cast if you try and learn to make them. When you can, be certain to fish
the water near the banks before you get into the water to wade. About the biggest mistake you can make is just to
walk up to a stream, wade out into the center and start casting. You may have spooked some trout right where
you headed into the stream. Always take you time. Stop and look at the water. Figure out your best approach to
get to the likely holding and feeding areas you intend to cast to.
I am not the best person in the world to give out this tip but I will anyway. Never cast while you are taking steps
wading. You can't concentrate on both and you will eventually end up making bad cast or tripping, stumbling or
even falling. Stop casting and look at the water where you are wading. I am often guilty of making this mistake. I
catch myself doing it and stop, then forget and do it again. I have also busted my you know what a few times -
casting when I was wading.
The bottom line to all of this is first and foremost, don't wade unless you have to. Many anglers find themselves
wading just for the heck of it or because it never occurs to them that doing so spooks trout. If you can reach the
likely lies of trout, and you can make good presentations from the bank, by all means do so.
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Copyright 2015 Derek Porter