Angling for Trout: Fishing Methods
Dip or Drop Minnow
This is an effective and not inartistic method which is not as widely used as it could be. For once it can be said (almost with relief) that nearly any sort of tackle will serve. A light rod, 3 or 3.7 m (10 or 12 ft) long, is ideal. An old ROACH rod could easily be adapted by fitting a fibre-glass tip.
Mount a reel (any sort) loaded with about 45 m (50 yds) of 3 kg (6 lb) b.s. Monofil nylon. Push a small torpedo-shaped lead with a hole through it inside a fresh or salted minnow. Thread the line through the lead, using a needle, and out the minnow’s tail, and knot on a size 12 treble hook.
The idea is to fish the minnow, dip and lift, wherever a big trout seems likely. Undercut banks, deep backwaters, and rocky pots amongst boulders are the likeliest places. The angler can wade; he can fish upstream or downstream as he chooses; or he can prowl the banks, dipping and drawing the minnow at a whim.
Patience, a light touch, and a good knowledge of trout-lies will be developed by this form of angling. The experts get some excellent baskets of fish.
Nymph and Creeper Fishing
Some fishermen use a delicate and skilful method of baiting by using a natural nymph. Hooks as small as 20s are used. The fairy-like baits are placed (`cast’ is too coarse a term) upstream, where they are allowed to trickle over the stones, aided only by a microscopic dust shot.
The Large Stone-fly creeper is the largest of our river-and two-hook tackles are recommended for ‘covering’ this comparatively sturdy bait, which is cast upstream, using a long, light rod.
In late May and early June the natural creeper can be deadly. A good deal of practice is needed to detect the bite with certainty, but on the other hand, as with all natural baits, trout do tend to retain their hold much longer than they would with an artificial. Experience at upstream wet-fly fishing is very useful for the creeper angler.
One rarely sees worms in the clear waters of trout-streams and they must be counted as a rare item of fishes’ diet. On the other hand elvers are common in summer and a young eel and a worm look very much alike,
If fly fails and worm is allowed then use it by all means. At dawn and again towards evening worm can have a fatal attraction for trout, even in near-drought conditions. Well-scoured redworms dug from an ancient dung-heap and subsequently re-packed in fresh water-weed or moss should do the trick. Those between 5 and 7.5 cm (2 and 3 ins) long are the best.
Mount the worm on a two hook tackle so that head and tail hang attractively. One or even two small lead shots may be added to the line although some experts prefer none. A 2 kg (4 lb) monofil line is about right if there is a chance of big fish. In a moorland stream it is safe to go as fine as 1 kg (2 lb). A rod similar to that advocated for drop-minnow will serve for worming.
A worm is lobbed gently into the quiet gravel runs and the angler recovers line with one hand as it comes towards him downstream.
Other fishing methods:
It is customary to assert that the only sporting way of catching trout is with a fly. Unlike some hoary statements which rest on doubtful premises the above remains as true today as when it was first stated. The most efficient way of catching trout is with a net or a fish-trap. Quite deliberately, anglers prefer to catch their trout by a method which calls for a high degree of skill, experience, and manual dexterity. This is not to say that fly-fishing is hard to learn, but it is hard to do really well.
Anglers have two chief motives for making trout-catching difficult. The first is to give the fish a sporting chance by allowing it to refuse to be caught. The second, stemming from the first, is to conserve trout-stocks.
Similar arguments of course could be advanced for other sorts of fishing. But these apply to trout in particular. Trout are a hard-sought species and large specimens — the breeding stock — are, unlike, seldom returned to the water alive. Trout fishing needs to be difficult in order to protect the trout.
Apart from the severely practical consideration of maintaining stocks, fly-fishing is by far the richest, most diverse, and most interesting method of angling.
Owners of fisheries and angling associations could do a lot more than they are doing to foster fly-fishing. For example more cheap day-tickets could be offered to young anglers who signed a promise to stick to fly only. Organizations such as the Welsh Fly-Fishing Association already run annual fly-only contests for juniors and generally do everything possible to urge youngsters to fish fly at all times.
The cult of thewas driven too hard and died a natural death. Nowadays dry-fly fishing is simply one of several methods of fly-fishing, to be employed as and when the occasion warrants. Nymphs, fished near the bottom, are now widely used on many chalk-streams, and ‘nymph’ is simply a careful euphemism for a without wings. On waters other than chalk-streams the dry and have for long been regarded as equal partners, each contributing something to the sport. On most lakes anglers seldom use anything other than the wet fly, and count themselves no less sportsmen because of this fact.
For many years a number of books on dry-fly fishing led the public to think that this method was superior to any other. Many experts now consider that the upstream wet fly, working as it is in three dimensions, is the more difficult way of fishing. It is all a matter of opinion and each must decide for himself.
In trout-fishing the magic word is reservoirs. As we become more water-conservation minded there are likely to be more and still more sheets of fresh water, and local authorities are slowly becoming educated to the fact that, in these waters, trout are a lucrative and beneficial crop.
For the angler of modest means — which means most of us — reservoirs offer good value for money. In terms of sport, size and quality of fish, and the amount of fishable water available there are few rivers to compare with our best reservoirs.
A day-ticket on a reservoir enables the newcomer to get the flavour of the game without over-committing himself financially. Compared with the inflated cost of river-fishing this is good value.