Following a rather dire season for trout fishing, I tried to analyse what had gone wrong. Had I lost my magic touch, was age becoming a factor in my pursuit of the wily trout, or was there something else that was fundamental to my failure? I do not recall in my entire fishing career, making four separate visits to four different locations in totally different weather conditions, and failing to catch anything. I seriously pondered whether I had upset the Fish Gods with some unruly comment that I had made during my bitter disappointment, and that they were now punishing me to a life of 'blankness'. Something was missing and I needed to identify what, why, and how I could rectify the problem, and soon.
My only consolation to my current predicament, was that I was not alone in failing to hook up with my quarry. I had always been in the company of someone else who had also suffered the same ignominious result. Tick one; it wasn't Personal to me. Tick two; Equipment. All my fishing equipment was fully up too date, a recent purchase of a 7' Shakespeare Sigma Super rod, Keeper Reel and new floating lines were fully recommended by my expert rod supplier, and were a joy to use. Tick three Flies. My fly's were of good quality, many were tied by myself and had followed well established patterns, serving me well for many years previous without previous drama.
What else? Consideration of a host of other items such as water temperature, weather conditions, water clarity, length of leader, stalking tactics were analysed in depth, but I was no nearer to providing a definitive answer for my failure. Had I been a golfer, I would have put it down to a 'Bad Spell' but this was trout fishing, and I don't believe in 'Bad Spells'.
I needed to look somewhere else and by chance came across an article concerning 'Kick Sampling', that to be honest, I had heard about many years ago, but had never employed. It is a method that is the 'Wet' comparison to 'Hatch and Match' but obviously is being used under the water as opposed to above. The article made perfect sense to me in that as fishermen we are constantly on the lookout for which fly is hatching, looking for the swarms that fly above the surface, trying to match it to the fly we should use, hence 'Hatch & Match'. Kick Sampling conversely looks at those bugs that are sub surface, are rarely seen, but in most cases will eventually join the 'Hatch & Match' crowd.
Surprisingly, these sub surface bugs make up the majority of the trout's food, some say by as much as 80%! Lightbulb moment! Thoughts of all those missed opportunities came flooding back and I was determined to go 'submariner' in my future forays. The principle is simple and involves placing a small fine net (mine is approximately 18" x 12"), at an angle to catch disturbed bottom invertebrates downstream. Stand a distance of approximately 2-3 metres upstream from where you will commence to kick/disturb the bottom and move slowly towards the net, continuing the kicking process. After a few minutes of this shuffling exercise you should have a nice selection of what the trout are eating sub surface. Repeat this process in two or three different locations to get a fair representation. Once complete, you should find a large number of nymph, larvae or bugs in the net, this will give you a good indicator of what type and colour of fly you should select from your box. I am told this will increase your chances significantly, and could be the answer to my recent failures.
I will use this on my next trip and hopefully report back with some positive results, failing that, I may have to take up golf. K... It should be noted that this practice is illegal in Scotland.