So many anglers have commented on their surprise to stumble across big brown trout resting in the shallows along the edges of the Tongariro River that it is time for some wise words from Tony Bishop:
Fush yer feet firrst…
Catch more fish by FFF
‘fishing feet first’
Lessons learnt young can be the most productive
He was perhaps fifty. This estimate is subject to a too-long-ago early teenage memory. Everyone over 20 seemed old at that time.
Fishing a wet-line, he had moved to halfway down the pool. Permission to enter the pool requested and granted, and I waded out to mid-thigh at the head of the pool above him. My first cast nearly fell on the opposite bank. Back then, to my immature mind, casting long distances seemed to be the prime distinguishing feature between a real fisherman and a duffer.
“Fush yer feet firrst”, he grunted.
“I beg your pardon?” I said, in the deference to age that was still quite common in those days.
“Fish your feet first”, he slowly and more clearly enunciated, “you have just put down some good fish”.
I did not have a clue what he was on about,
but all was soon revealed.
He backed out of the pool, and asked me to join him up on the bank, 5 meters above the pool. There he carefully, and patiently pointed out prime trout ‘lies’ in the pool, and suggested some of the best ways to swing my flies through those lies.
However the thing that turned his theoretical explanations into indelible experience, was the sight of a shadow moving from the deep water, across to place where I had been standing.
The shadow solidified into a trout, which took up station behind a rock very close to where I had been standing, casting. Another shadow moved into view and slid alongside a clump of weed just below the first seen trout.
The fish had been right at my feet. Well, they were, until I had blundered into their lie.
He quietly explained, that the first thing a good angler should do approaching a pool, is nothing. Nothing in the water that is. I should from a good vantage point, study the water, and try and identify where fish would most likely to be holding.
To prove his points he guided me back down to the head of the pool. Under his close supervision and in no more than ankle deep water, I began casting, at first short, then longer casts. Covering the water completely and very thoroughly, we worked our way down the pool in close tandem, sometimes wading shallow, sometimes waist deep.
All the time we were conscious of the need to place ourselves in careful position to best present the fly to probable lies. We caught fish.
At home time I thanked my mentor. He replied that thanks were unnecessary as he was only helping himself. My bumbling into the pool had not only put down my fish but their panic had most likely put down his fish as well. His tuition would reduce the chances of a novice ruining his fishing again.
A great attitude, and one that would solve a lot of problems on the more crowded rivers of today.
The fish your feet message, I found, applied to other forms of fishing.
…… I guess that fishing your feet is an attitude of mind about fishing in general.
Sometimes it requires a quick reassessment of our fishing objectives, and the strategies we apply, to achieve those objectives. Too often excitement and anticipation sweep common sense to the very back of the brain.
Nowadays I find that before I blunder into a pool, before I try to cast to the far bank, before I try to cast to Australia, before I motor into the deep blue beyond, a quick glance at my feet slows down the adrenaline rush.
There is something extraordinarily satisfying about quietly contemplating a course of action and then, a plan hatched, putting it into practice and achieving a measure of success. But then, maybe all this is some form of passing the baton received in that trout pool so many years ago. My 70th flew past without time slowing down for a second…
When Pumpkin took me for a walk along the Tongariro River bank in the tail of Major Jones Pool a shoal (?) of BIG browns was seen hugging the TRB (True Right Bank). Then a shag glided through even closer to the TRB and disturbed four more smaller Rainbows that I had not noticed resting in the shallows.
Meanwhile the only angler was casting well out into the current on the TLB ‘lining’ them all.