Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Stealth

As someone who enjoys fishing small streams, approach is something that must be constantly considered.  I grew up fishing small meadow and woodland streams with my grandfather.   The two things he insisted on when fishing these streams were drab clothing and a stealthy approach.   Drab colored clothing and hats blend well with the surroundings, particularly muted tones of green, brown, grey, and light blue.  On streams where the trout’s only protective advantage is flight, remaining unseen is a necessity.  This is even more challenging in situations where an upstream cast is nearly impossible and the angler needs to use the current to present the fly into protected feeding lanes.  It still surprises me how often I see a picture of an angler wearing a bright red or yellow shirt or hat in an article on fishing small streams.  Brighter clothing may not be so much of an issue on larger rivers where there is greater distance between the angler and the fish or in high gradient streams where it there is a natural “ladder” in the gradient and fishing upstream with a low profile is easily accomplished.  But more often than not that a bright shirt or hat is easily perceived by the fish and they are on the alert to your presence.

Muted tones of green and gray for early spring and late fall - photo courtesy of Alan of Small Stream Reflections

Another consideration is your approach to the stream.  You can’t expect to remain unseen if don’t carefully consider your approach and how you will present the fly.   We often would crawl into position to keep a low profile using trees or brush to hide our approach.  You just can't careless walk up to the edge of a small stream and expected to go unnoticed.  If you are careful and stealthy in your approach you can reduce the distance between you and your fly and more effectively place it where it needs to be.  Once these skills are part of your thinking your approach on larger rivers will improve and you can cut down the distance between you and your target.

So the next time you are thinking about fishing a small stream consider how well  your clothing blends into your surroundings and keep a low profile.  Fish are very adept at picking up movement and color in their surroundings.

8 comments:

  1. Mark
    I couldn't agree more with your comments about stealth when fly fishing. I know on our local tailrace that blended clothing makes a huge different as opposed to bright clothing. This is especially true on pressured waters such as most tailrace fisheries. Thanks for sharing

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  2. Bill that's for your comments, it seems obvious but I see photos in books and magazines that really make me wonder sometimes

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  3. You have hit the nail on the head with this post. Small stream fishing absolutely requires stealth. I remember last year fishing an upper section of the Carman's River where I spent 25 minutes carefully moving up stream to group of feeding brook trout only to watch them scatter when I simply raised my rod. Trout are very aware of their surroundings and pursuing them in small streams necessitates stealth.

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    1. Thanks for your comments Kiwi, fishing small streams is indeed a stealthy buisness!

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  4. Your advice is spot on in any branch of angling. Another aspect of stealth that could do with almost universal improvement is with our gear. That glossy rod acts like a heliograph on even the most dull and overcast days. The light coloured fly line that is so easy to watch on the water is another source of unnatural and sudden brightness during the casting process. Fish don't even need to see the line to be aware of something causing the light values to rapidly change (just like the flash of a diving piscivorous bird) this causes an instant response from the fish and reduces the angler's chances to nil. One little fish scared, running upstream will alert a dozen bigger fish and the pool will seem to be empty where only moments ago there were a dozen rising!

    Yours is a lovely blog, always worth reading...

    RR

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    1. Rod - well said! I didn't mention rod finish or fly line color at all. I use green and brown colored rods but the high gloss finishes are a problem. I also use olive color fly lines and avoid the bright orange, green and white lines that are very popular these days.

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  5. Good points all Mark.
    I have always worn black or olive green. Trout also have a lateral line on their body which will detect you long before your seen....walk softly.
    Where your standing in that photo, if you were there now you would have to wearing all white.

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  6. Alan - Good point about being quiet as well! When there is snow on the ground, the darker colors still blend with the gray trees (on woodland streams) which is probably more of what the fish actually see than the ground so I don't think we need to invest in "snow camo" just yet but... if we have another winter like this one maybe it would be worth it since we will be wearing it for 4/5 months of the year!

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