Insects and other food the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives (Baetis)
2. Blue Quills
3. Quill Gordons
4. Little Black Caddis
5. Winter Stoneflies
Note: Just in case you want to know more about yesterday's subject (Flies), you
could read this previous article I wrote some time ago on the subject.
Reviewing the Basics - Hiding From the Trout
If the trout see you, it will be next to impossible for you to catch them. In order to
hide from them, you need to know a little about how a trout sees the world outside
the water. The subject is far to complicated to discuss in detail in a short article but
thank goodness, it isn't necessary. The above link to the same previous article gets
into the trout's window of vision and how they see things both under and above the
water. For purposes of what I want to point out today, just a little common sense
and a little basic knowledge about how trout see is all you need to help you prevent
them from seeing you.
Trout don't see objects above the water, especially those at a distance, clearly. To
make it simple, lets just say they see things as a blur. They cannot see anything in
detail at a distance. A person standing twenty feet from them is just a blurred
image. Now for those who want to get picky, what I am about to say isn't exactly
technically correct but I am not writing a scientific paper. I am describing how a trout
sees someone trying to catch them. For all practical purposes, I am being accurate.
What trout will notice, much quicker than anything else, is the movement of an
object above the water. They are used to seeing blurred images of objects above
the water that remain fairly still. Trees and boulders don't move around a lot.
Overhead predators pose a danger to them. Large birds and a animals pose a
danger to trout. When something moves above the water, it gets their attention.
The bottom line to this is that you should move as little as possible and when
you do move, move as slowly as possible. Of course, it is difficult to cast without
The other thing about what they see above the water has to do with the distance
the object is from them. To make this simple, due to refraction of light, they don't
see things that are low above the water. The higher the object, the easier it is for
them to see it. For example, they could see an object ten feet above the water as
far as twenty feet away but they would not see an object one foot about the water
that is ten feet away. The lower you are, the closer you can get to trout without their
seeing you. If you stand on top of the highest rock in the stream and look around
you, chances are every trout within twenty or thirty feet of you will see you. Your
movements climbing up on the rock and back down will spook them for sure. Stay
low and slow, right the opposite of what you want to do if you are flying an airplane.
Trout face normally face in an upstream direction. Their bodies and fins are
streamlined for them to remain in current expending as little energy as possible.
They would have a difficult time holding their position in current if they had their tail
pointed into the current.
Most all of their food comes to them in a downstream direction. Aquatic insects in a
current seam are drifting downstream. The trout face in an upstream direction
looking for them. The bottom line to this is that you can get closer to trout if you are
downstream of them. If you fish in an upstream direction, they will not be able to see
you as easily as they would if you were fishing in a downstream direction. With few
exceptions I will not go into here, in the small fast water freestone streams in the
Smokies, you should always fish in an upstream direction.
Trout don't see the same way us humans do. They have a much wider peripheral
vision. In other words they can see almost all the way around. Their binocular vision
is not near as good as ours. That is part of the reason why they don't see things at
a distance above the water clearly and in great detail or resolution.
Sounds simple so far. However, just because you are approaching them from their
back side doesn't mean you can slip up on them and tap them on their shoulders.
Copyright 2009 James Marsh