Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Bear in the Library with a Fly Rod

The title comes from the venerable board game Clue. I admit I've never played it. I am drawn to murder and mayhem.

I write about murder avocationally.

At left, part of my trout library.

It is very early spring and I'm in the library trying to make things better.

I'm not sure if I can; but, I'm sure in some pretty fine company as I dig about in my volumes of troutness.

I have a cold so I'm not "better" myself. I'll get there.

I regret my current copy of McClane's is the reprint with the photstatic fly plates rather than my original with the glossy inset color plates. I have my original CRC Handbook and my Mathematical Tables (gotta love the reference section on Laplace transforms).

I don't however have some of my other books. I'm missing a signed set of J.F.C Fuller's Military History of the Western World and a first edition of B.H Liddell Hart's The Other Side of the Hill.  These things happen in life.

I'm home with a cold and a fuzzy head and am working on a small field guide that I hope my Amber Angler comrades may find of use when they stand on our local rivers' edges and contemplate "what now?"

I've had to get better at stream ecology here in Michigan which is a topic I've mentioned in these pages several times. Throwing a bushy dry to the sides of a mid-stream boulder during July and August no longer answers the riddle of "how do you catch trout?"

My nymphing technique is still generally poor though the last two months have seen real improvement by using a high-contrast piece of mono as the almost-terminal section of hand-tied leaders. I hate "bobbers" and indicator fishing but I will consent that a "sighter" has really improved my sub-surface enjoyment.

The French Nymphing curly-q sighter bit is a giant PIA, though. Why do something that intentionally introduces slack in a system? Where's the fun in that?

I like to tie-in flouro as the terminal section to make my fly+tippet flouro-flouro easier to manage on the stream (I pre-rig a lot when it is cold and make an Albright connection of my rigged tippet sections to leader.)

I've written about limited fly-boxes and do an adequate job avoiding "magic fly" proclamations and temptations.

Yes, I am convinced that there are times that the local "magic fly" is the thing to use. I'll concede that locals know things that are ...special. I also know I'm absolute shit at looking in a fly box containing Joey's two-and-a-half-gainer and remembering where/when/why I should fish it.

I prefer to stick with the partridge-and-olive in such cases. My loss. YMMV.

Anyway, I'm digging through trying to quantify what others before me have asserted we know about trout.

I've got it all down now. Here, I'll share.

What we know: trout generally prefer to live in cold clean water. They eat "things" in the water, usually. Some trout of a given population swim around in the water from place-to-place and other stay put. 

Yep, that's it. When you take the anecdotal and circumstantial and uncorroborated single-environment differentiated business out of trout in popular and scientific literature, you end up with a tiny bit of confirmed knowledge. It's more than my absurdest example; but, it isn't much more!

I put it to the court that we're deep in the land of Hearsay.

Doctor Simpkins, can you confirm that the trout in question confused your comparadun with the Hendrickson hatch which - at the time you were fishing - had ended some two hours previous?
Uh, no. I have no idea what the trout thought. He was a beauty, though  Let me tell you about my reach cast and how the drift ...
Thank you, doctor. No further questions for this ichthyologist, you honors.
We're not much better off now than W.C. Stewart  and his The Practical Angler. Trout are bloody hard work and I'm certainly glad I don't feed my family based on my own accurate, undisputed discoveries. Those'd be some skinny kids.

Mr. Stewart being a Scotsman certainly intended his volume to be practical. We can all hope our advice and observations come to that high standard.

I'm off to muddy the water - this time in a literary sense.


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