Freestone Trout Streams - Fishing Low, Clear Water

During the late Summer and early Fall, many freestone trout streams become
very low due to the lack of rainfall. In these cases, it the air temperatures become
very hot, trout streams can get in bad condition and fishing can become very
tough and stressful on the trout when you are successful.

As always, the streams to be affected the most in terms of water level are the
small, headwater streams. There's little water left in them in severe cases.
Although i have no real scientific justification for saying this, I do believe the
eastern native brook trout are more capable of surviving these tough
environmental conditions than the other non-native species of trout. They hide
from their predators and manage to survive even when the water is extremely low.

If the water temperature is not too warm and catching trout isn't going to place
too much stress on the trout, you can be sneaky and make good presentations
you can still catch plenty of fish. Everyone is probably aware that you should stay
low, dress correctly and stay hidden from the trout. Those things are basic for
fishing small streams, especially under low water conditions. What prompted this
writing is a factor that I think many anglers overlook.

If you move extremely slow, the trout are far less likely to notice you. Before I get
to the point, you may want to review our articles on how trout see. Trout can see
almost all the way around themselves. There's only a small area directly behind
them, called the blind spot, that is not within their peripheral vision. I have found
that as long as you move extremely slow, they won't notice you in their peripheral
vision area of coverage nearly as quickly as they will when you move at a normal
pace. By that I mean not only move you body very slowly, but refrain from the
making the movements necessary to cast.

The trout's vision is not very different from bass. Both species can see almost all
the way around themselves. For several years, I had the opportunity to
experiment with bass in my close friend's aquarium or Tom Mann's Fish World in
Eufaula, Alabama. Tom allowed me to go up to the top of the aquarium and
experiment with fishing for the huge bass in the large tank.

The tank is about the size of a small house and looks much like a large swimming
pool from up top. Below, windows allow visitors to look into the aquarium from an
underwater perspective. If you approached the water from up top where visitors
are not allowed, every fish in the aquarium would shoot for the nearest cover.
They had become used to the people down below looking through the windows
and had learned they didn't pose any danger. That was not the case up top.

Trying to cope with the fish spooking every time I attempted to cast to them, I  
used every method I could think of each time I tried to approach them without
their knowing it. I discovered that if I moved like a snail, they didn't notice me. If I
moved any faster than that, they did. Even though my clothes didn't blend in with
the color of the walls behind me, they still didn't notice me as long as my
movements were very, very slow.

When I learned to cast with an underhanded cast or flip of the rod, they would all
try to eat the lure, that is until one got it. You could fish with the same lure for the
rest of the day and they would only hide from it but that is another subject.

I discovered that by using this same procedure, I could approach trout in
extremely clear spring creeks in Pennsylvania without spooking them, but doing
so is not easy. Moving at a slow, slow pace is not easy to do. It seems you will
never get into a position to cast and then when you do, you must do so with the
flip of a wrist, side-armed and very low. That means you can't cast very far and
that means you have to get very close to them. I have caught brown trout as
close as fifteen feet from me in shallow, extremely clear water, when I was
standing my full height which is six feet, two inches.

Most of the time I make the mistake of moving too fast. I am not very patient any
way and fishing at the pace of a snail isn't easy for me to do. What I am
describing is not a cure all for catching fish in low, clear water by any means.
Casting to a trout may take twenty minutes of ultra slow-motion movement before
you attempt the first and only cast you will get. I usually stoop down to my knees
in slow motion when I do get close to the fish and then cast side-armed with as
little body movement as possible.

Please note that I'm not contending that this is the way to fish normal, low water
conditions. I don't think that extent of extreme caution is necessary in most
cases.  I do wish to stress the point that trout do not notice your presence by
identifying or determining that you are some type of creature from out of space
that is going to harm them. Without turning and placing you in their very narrow
binocular area of vision, they cannot see you well enough to determine anything
other than something is in their area that doesn't belong there.

If you were in the woods observing the forest and one of the trees suddenly
moved a couple of feet, you would spook. If a tree started moving towards you at
a rather fast pace, you would really freak out. When a portion of the trout's
surroundings suddenly moves, it will freak out. Slow your movements way down
and you will catch more trout under low water conditions
Copyright 2013 James Marsh
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