Fish Sense




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By Dan Beard


If you will sit perfectly quiet on the bank of a clear Stream or lake, it will not be long before the inhabitants of the water will venture out of their hiding-places and swim around in plain view of the observer. What does this mean? If you shoot a pistol over your head, and make no quick in action with your arm s or hands, even then the creatures under the water will not flee. What does this mean?

Of course, my reader can answer for himself that all this means that sound has not much, if any, effect upon the fish, but that their eyes are quick to detect the slightest suspicious movement overhead or on shore. If you are in a boat and make a noise with your feet or anchor, the case is different, because you jar the water and that frightens the fish, but if you sit still, you may talk with no danger of alarming the game.

Some may doubt this; nevertheless, I have fired a pistol over the water and killed a frog with the bullet without alarming the other frogs or the fish in plain sight. But as soon as I made a movement to gain possession of the dead frog, not only all the other frogs plumped into the water and all the turtles slipped off the logs where they had been peacefully baking their backs in the sun, but every fish in sight darted away to be out of reach of the dangerous two legged animal they saw approaching.

Nature as a Teacher

The inference is that we must keep as motionless as possible when fishing, and when compelled to move, do so with great deliberation. If any one of my readers has ever watched a black-crested night-heron or any kindred bird as it fished in the shallow water, the motionless poise or the slow deliberate movement of the bird could not have escaped notice. When you want to learn nature's secrets go to nature to find them out. Watch how the hunters with four legs and fishers with feathers act, and the nearer you conform your methods to theirs the greater will be your success.

It is understood, of course, that in fly-fishing, casting, and skittering, motion is constant and unremitting, but even then the better you are concealed, the better will be your luck .

In the woods of Pike County, PA, there is a bright, noisy little brook that comes gabbling and gurgling down the mountainside, now diving under moss covered roots, and hiding a while, only to jump out and surprise you in an unlooked-for spot. After rambling along in a happy-go-lucky manner under the deep shade of tall pine trees, it suddenly leaves the woods and sweeps out in a broad, deep pool into a pasture-field.

Out of Sight of the Pool

Fishing down this stream a few summers ago, I came suddenly upon the pasture, but in place of climbing the fence, I cautiously poked my rod through the bushes until my fly hung directly over the spot where I supposed the pool to be. Then I gently allowed the fly to settle down, and I only knew when it struck the water by the sudden pull on the line.

Without once seeing the pool, I landed fourteen fine trout; there were no very large ones. But I had enough fish for breakfast and returned home.

Effect of Being Seen

The next time I visited the brook I fished up the stream, and when I struck the pasture I climbed the fence and cast my fly from the bank; but I had been seen, and not one trout came near my hook.

In approaching this hole on my first trip I was shouting and breaking my way through the underbrush with great noise , purposely, in order to make my whereabouts known to a companion who was somewhere in the glen. The last time I made no noise, but approached on tiptoe. The first time I was unseen, and I think that I could, had I wished, have taken every trout out of that pool. But when they saw me on the second occasion, I had better gone on my way and not wasted time by fishing for panic-stricken trout.

There is but one big trout in this brook and I hope some day to land him; he is in a round, deep hole in an open, exposed place, devoid of shelter, besides which the hole is a network of strong sunken sticks, a veritable snare for a fisherman's line; and the only apparent way to catch him is with a strong line and a sudden jerk. Yet this trout has not lived for years in his hole for nothing, and it is probable if any one ever captures him, it will be by meeting cunning with cunning, and not by brute force.

Trolling with a Spoon

In trolling, the longer the line the better, for the very palpable reason that the boat frightens the fish, but with a long line the fish has time to recover from his fright before the spoon comes glinting by him. Of course, a spoon does not look like any sort of a live creature when it is stationary, but a darting silver sheen is all that can be seen in the water, and that does look like a very brilliant and very lively young fish disporting himself with youthful impudence under the very noses Of his cannibalistic grandsires, and it is no wonder they snap at it, if only to teach the young rascal a lesson. But, alas! They find that they are the pupils in the severe school of experience, and seldom do they live to relate their adventure to their companions.

A Word about Fly-fishing

Now, in regard to fly-fishing, fly rods, reels, lines, hooks, fly-hooks, and all the numerous accessories of the, modern fisherman, there are books and books written upon such subjects, and there is not room here for a hundredth part of what might be and has been well said upon these topics; but bait-fishing and bottom- or still-fishing; are the choice methods for boys, and could not be well left out of the spring sports.







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Last modified: October 15, 2016.