Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Joy of Trout

I slid into the cold clear water of Fishing Creek to scope it out for a trip I will be running with Shanks Mare outfitter in June. The architecture of the place instantly impressed. Water cascaded over shelves of schist into pools lined with smoothed bedrock and angulated slabs. The clarity was impressive.

I saw a group of minnows and crept in to try to get a good shot and positive identity. I noticed the speckled snout of a trout sticking out from under a rock. I pointed the camera at the trout and the fish allowed me to snap a few shots before it rocketed off into the main flow below a short falls, leaving the minnows in a cloud of silt.

I always admired trout. They are elusive, and when I spent more time fishing for them than snorkeling with them, it was one of the ultimate challenges to hook one. Trout have an intelligence that leads to the difficulty of their capture. And now that I try to observe them, I find that they are just as difficult to watch.

My little trout shot off and joined another larger fish feeding in a deeper swift current. I hid behind a rock and watched the two fish feed. They precisely moved to exactly pluck insect morsels from the water, and maintain position in the river. Watching them was like watching the most incredible ballet. Grace, power, agility.

It didn’t take the fish long to realize they were being watched and they disappeared. I swam through the pool where they were, but the only thing I found was a puff of sediment in a bedrock crevasse where one of the trout hid and shot off when I passed over top without detecting its presence. I caught peripheral glimpses of these fish through the rest of the trip, but wasn’t able to spend any time watching them again. I enjoyed the beauty of Fishing Creek, looked for the trout, and admired their ability to dominate a pool one minute and completely vanish the next.

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