SPOTTING TROUT PART THREE – SOME EASIER SIGHTINGS
The Amandelstroom is without any doubt the clearest little trout stream I have ever seen in this country. It rises in a mountain range just beyond the town of Worcester in the Western Cape and flows into the Hex River. Sadly degradation has ruined this little stream, although there are reports of trout still in the upper reaches above the area that was bulldozed for some reason when they put in a fruit orchard. The picture above will give you an idea of the level of clarity I am speaking about and you should have no difficulty spotting the trout. Again, as an exercise, check the direction the rocks are throwing shadows and then look for the draped shadows under the trout.
You probably found both of the more obvious fish in this picture pretty easily, but a lot of people miss the third trout when I use this picture in PowerPoint presentations!
Bankside trout in an unusual position
Billy de Jong and I were walking fairly briskly down the edge of the far bank on the hotel beat of the Smalblaar River in the Western Cape. We wanted to put in some distance before we turned around to fish back upstream. As we walked I luckily glimpsed this trout out of the corner of my eye.
This fish is clearly not in a primary lie, but is sitting in a more exposed feeding or secondary lie, very close to the bank. We marked the spot, walked a short way downstream, turned back and caught it. I believe that had we not spotted the fish on the way down we would have missed it because its holding position was far from obvious when you approached the run from downstream. It cements the general principle that on the Smalblaar the trout can be anywhere and you need to fish not only the obvious lies on this stream.
Fortunately it didn’t spook. Note the thin, draped shadow under this trout. I managed to slowly move into a position where I could get a better picture of the fish. Now in the photograph below you can see it more easily and if you look carefully there is the draped shadow again.
By way of interest the picture below shows Bill going for this trout and the arrow marks its position between the rock and the riverbank.
Here’s a slightly tougher spot. Can you see the trout in the picture below?
This picture was taken in a little stream called the Kaaimansgat. At first the trout in this run is not at all obvious, but once spotted you wonder how you could have ever missed seeing it. What helped to spot this fish in real life was of course movement and a point I made in the first in this series, the value of contrast. This fish is lying over a very pale stone and shows up easily for that reason. The shadows of the rocks are falling backwards and slightly to the right. In this case the fish is in shallow water and so is very close to the stone he is lying on. The result is his shadow is less distinct. Finally this is obviously no primary lie so you can make the safe bet that the fish is feeding.
Another easy sighting
In this picture the sighting is again easy enough. The contrast and draped shadow are giveaways. Of interest, the fish is again in a feeding lie and as we watched it rose to a mayfly.
Notice how cryptic this rise is - just a gentle sip!
A difficult sighting to end with
This is a tough run to sight fish in because there is broken water, plenty of contrasting bands of light and shade and nearly all the pebbles are pale so fish won’t contrast well. Trout in feeding lies often instinctively move into the shadow areas for added cover which makes finding fish well nigh impossible. But study the run to see if you can spot this trout. In the picture (of the same fish) that follows, a slight change in its holding position suddenly makes it more obvious. What’s happened is that the trout has sunk back about 10 inches and is now resting above a conveniently pale stone. Notice how well it contrasts against the stone. This change in position should reinforce a general principle about trout in freestone runs and that is that they alter position a fair amount. Sighting fishing a stream is therefore never a static thing. Rather a streambed is an ever changing tapestry, which is one of the reasons you need to take your time. It’s also why you so often find trout while you’re sitting eating lunch and idly studying the river.
A slight change in position and the same fish more obvious!