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Do trout sleep? And if so, when? And how does that affect their feeding patterns? Does a rising or falling barometer affect feeding habits? How does refraction influence a fish's approach to a surface fly, human shadow, or false cast? How much do fish need to eat, under what conditions will they grow the largest? For the first time, an accessible, well-written title shows us what the world is like under the water, from the fish's perspective. Geoff Mueller, acclaimed senior editor with The Drakemagazine, travels throughout some of the best trout habitat in America, talking with the experts and donning swim fins and mask to meet trout on their own turf. With What a Trout Sees, curious anglers interested in taking their skill levels up a notch or two will finally have all the information they need.
Geoff Mueller is the former managing editor of Fly Fisherman Magazine and currently senior editor at The Drake Magazine and a contributing editor at Angling Trade Magazine. He\u2019s fished in the Arctic, Cuba, Mexico, the Bahamas, and more, and spends most of his on-the-water time chasing and studying trout in Colorado and Wyoming.Tim Romano is a frequent contributor to Field & Stream and a co-writer of the magazine\u2019s fly fishing blog, fsflytalk.com. He is the managing editor of Angling Trade Magazine (the business publication for the Fly Fishing Industry) and photo editor of the upcoming Flyfish Journal.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Tom Bie, Editor of The Drake Chapter 1: Taking the Plunge The author explains the concept behind the book and details his literal emersion into the world of underwater trout biology. From becoming dive certified in Colorado, to suiting up in scuba gear and actually swimming with trout, observing their behaviors during specific hatches on specific waterways and water types. Experiential anecdotes from first forays into the river with trout. Documenting surprise observations, and acknowledging some of the experts in the field who’ve already traveled this underwater path: Kirk Deeter, Ralph and Lisa Cutter, CSU’s Robert J. Behnke. Photos: Biographical shots from the author’s own files. Mug-shot photos of other personalities. An image of divers with trout. Total: 5 images Chapter 2: A Social and Natural History of Trout What are the most common species of trout, and when were they introduced into North America? Who introduced them, and why? Where did they come from, and why have they flourished so successfully in this new habitat? The only native trout species is the brook trout. When did it start declining in population, and why? Photos: Four underwater shots of various species of trout—rainbow, cutthroat, brookie, brown. Images of various habitats and how they’re unique to individual species. High mountain streams for brook trout. Deep holes and underwater structure for browns. Tailwaters and prime rainbow trout structure. Stock photos of native habitat in Europe. Total: 8 images Chapter 3: A Year in the Life of a River-Born Trout Beginning with fall spawn, a detailed look into the year of an adult trout—the one we want to catch—from its underwater POV. Fall feeding and breeding, winter metabolic slowdown, spring awakenings, prime water temps, cyclical hatches, to summer holds and feeding habits in skinny water. How does a trout’s perception evolve throughout the course of a season? A detailed look at what triggers those behavioral responses. Are larger fish less likely to feed on small bugs? How do the various species of trout differ in terms of aging? From first egg to final flop, here’s everything a good fisherman needs to effectively understand trout throughout four seasons. Photos: Four color photos illustrating the various stages of a trout’s life cycle: spawning and roe, minnows, maturity, decline. Total: 4 photos Chapter 4: Trout Physiology Breaking down the components of trout physiology for major North American species: Cutthroat, Rainbow, Brown, Brookie. How do river and air temps affect feeding habits? How do fish adapt to seasonal changes in river and air temp as well as water levels moving from spring freshet, to summer drawdowns, to stabilized in-between times. Detailing how trout react to barometric pressure. Moon phases. Moreover, how do trout stay upright in the water? How do they rise or descend? Are they more likely to feed on bugs from the side or straight-ahead? When do they spawn? And how does their behavior change while they’re spawning? What sort of water do they need in order to effectively spawn? Photos: Four scenics illustrating each season. Close up shots of the signature differences between trout species. Healthy spawning habitat will also be portrayed. Illustrations will supplement, showing feeding habits of trout. Total: 6 images Chapter 5: Water—the Lifeblood What water temperatures do trout need in order to be active and thrive? What conditions do they need in order to spawn and lay eggs? What sort of clarity do they require in order to feed? When do trout prefer fast water to quiet water? Why? Are there differences in water preference between the species of trout? pH level? Limestone? How far does sound travel underwater, and at what distances are trout spooked by your felt-soled (or rubber boot) fumbling? Water comes in many forms: sediment high and nutrient rich to gin clear, ice cold, and almost devoid of macroinvertebrate life. How do you, as a fly fisher, adapt and catch more fish by better understanding the water in which you stand. Photos: Various flies presented underwater in various degrees of clarity and/or fish swimming in a range of water conditions. Five photos. Chapter 6: Where Trout Live and Why An underwater blueprint to understanding habitat from a trout’s POV. Analysis of imperative river structure and trout holds. Deciphering these clues in order to locate trout during any season. Underwater Flora and Fauna—the environment in which trout live, and what it can tell you about the condition of the fishery. Breakdown by water type, including: tailwaters, and freestone rivers, to alpine brooks, small streams, and stillwater fisheries. How does where you live and fish factor into trout behavior? Tips for better fishing based on region, mean temperature, elevation, and climate observation. Photos: Translations of water appearance on the surface (riffles, eddies, etc.) to sub-surface structures. Above the water photos paired against below the water illustrations. Illustrations showing how fish hold according to water movement. Total: 8 photos Chapter 7: What Trout See How does the trout’s eye function relative to a human eye? Can trout see color? What are their “cones of vision”? A discussion of different variables in a typical fishing scenario. You wouldn’t think that a creature with a brain the size of a pea could be so complicated. And yet, there are thousands of ways in which they can outsmart a fisherman. What sort of leader material is best in terms of visibility: fluoro or nylon? When they are looking up at you standing on the bank, what do they see? They are programmed to expect danger from above, but how much movement does it take before their flight response is triggered? Photos: Close ups of trout eyes. Various shots of leaders, flies, and fishermen from a trout’s eye view. Total: 6 images Chapter 8: The Feeding Machine. What Trout Eat Understanding trout in terms of a “feeding machine.” Why it eats when it does, and how to trigger a predatory response when it’s not embroiled in a specific hatch. What trout eat (and why/how they do it, from an in-the-water POV). The major food groups of a trout’s daily diet. With regard to insects, trace the lifecycle of various bugs from pupae to spinner to imago. What does a caddis fly look like when it’s in the larval stage. When do mayflies hatch? How many stoneflies in the air does it take before trout begin to aggressively feed? And what about roe and minnows? Whether you’re tying your own flies or using someone else’s, there will be something here to help guide you. Photos: Various real flies both in and out of the water. Mayfly lifecycle illustration: Nymph, emerger, dun, spinner. Total: 4 photos Chapter 9: Connecting the Dots Based on the underwater findings detailed here: Honing your skills to better meet trout expectations. A discussion of mainstream rigs, techniques, and approaches and how to tweak them to catch more and bigger trout. How specific flies fished during specific hatch and non-hatch scenarios trigger a response. Examination of drys, nymphs, emergers, and streamers. When and where to fish based on when and where a trout is most likely to be triggered to eat. Photos: Gear shots. Photos of artificial flies, in and out of the water. Total: 4 photos Chapter 10: Flies That Consistently Fool Trout Based on what we know about what trout see, how trout eat, and where trout live throughout four seasons: here are the flies and recipes for effectively targeting trout during highly specific fishing scenarios. Flies for runoff; tailwaters; pocketwaters; fast riffles, and slow pools. A discussion of fly sizes, color, materials, and additional elements for consistently fooling trout. Photos: Close shots of the most important flies in your box, and how they look on the water from below. This is how trout see a Dave’s hopper, a Royal Wulff, etc. Total: 10 photos. Chapter 11: Threats Complicated, beautiful, and tasty, trout are never entirely safe. From whirling disease to zebra mussels, pelicans to herons, to human impact (Bristol Bay) here’s what life’s like on the business end of the food change. And here’s what we can do as sportsmen and conservationists to make sure their world continues. Photos: Environmental hot spots, both before and after degradation. Louisiana. Mine tailings, Montana. Etc. Total: 3 photos