Interview with a trout
Learn why trout don't think a Royal Wulff is edible, why they jump when hooked and much more in this exclusive interview with the world trout spokesfish
Trout live a secluded life and rarely make statements in public, but we have managed to land an exclusive interview with the spokesfish for all the world's trout.
It's taken a couple of years of lobbying and pulling strings to get the contact, but once the line was established, the trout were very open and forward about their life.
The Global FlyFisher: First of all, thanks for taking the time to talk to us and granting us the opportunity to get some questions answered that many anglers have been asking.
Trout Spokesfish: You're welcome.
GFF: And then... Trout Spokesfish...? That's a concept that might seem strange to some. What exactly is your role?
TS: I have been elected by the trout community to speak for all of us in this breeding period. We elect a new spokesfish every time a breeding cycle is over. You can sit for two terms, and I'm proud to say that this is my second term.
GFF: Like a trout president?
TS: No, no! Presidency is such a human concept! I'm not a leader. I'm a servant. A representative, whose job it is to speak on behalf of everyone. We spokesfish travel the oceans, lakes and streams to pick up the words from even the most humble trout and relay it to the world.
GFF: Amazing. You probably realize that very few people are aware of this?
TS: Sure! We trout don't swim around and say much. We tend to mind our own business and make the best of our lives, but being approached by The Global FlyFisher and having the chance to reach a world wide human audience was an option that we didn't want to miss.
GFF: I have to ask this: Since you are obviously more clever than most humans are aware of, why on earth do you let yourself catch on hooks?
TS: Well, we have a joint agreement amongst all trout - amongst all fish, actually - that a certain percentage of us will make the sacrifice of getting hooked. It's for the better of the whole fish population. When people catch a fish now and then, they care more and will do more to help save and maintain the places we live and love. By sacrificing a few individuals, many survive and have better lives.
GFF: Do the fish volunteer to get caught!
TS: A few do, but it is essentially a draft. Kind of a lottery, but just much less random. In every school of trout there's a certain number of tightliners as we call them, and if the opportunity offers itself, they will have to at least follow and show interest in artificial lures and bait, and of course sometimes bite.
GFF: But why would anybody do that? Doesn't it hurt?
TS: Whaddayathink? Of course it hurts! Like nothing else. Imagine yourself being dragged around with a hook in your lip! We trout and most other fish have a higher threshold for pain than humans, but getting hooked is not nice.
The "ride on the line" compensates to a certain extent. That can be a lot of fun, and for many trout it's a sort of a rite of passage to get hooked and manage to loose the hook and be free again. Of course the spreading of catch and release has made the risk of dying much smaller, but still there's always that thought: "Will I get free, will I get released, will I die...?" That's what makes being a tightliner so exciting. Living on the edge, never knowing.
GFF: So that's why you jump when you are hooked? To try to break free?
TS: No, no! When you're riding the line, you use the tension to propel yourself into the air, which can give some spectacular almost sexual sensations. Remember that many fish jump in connection with spawning, and jumping on the line is the fishes' version of masturbation if you'll allow me to be so free. And of course we also use the jumps to inspect the angler.
GFF: Inspect the angler? In what way?
TS: Well, we won't let ourselves be caught by everyone. We have to make sure that the angler lives up to certain rules and standards. The jumping trout will check gear and clothes, age and posture and even look at the surroundings, scouting for car models, boat makes, motor types etc. That will all be conveyed to the other fish under the water, and they will stay in the area and offer themselves for more hookups or leave depending on a common decision. You have probably noticed that sometimes other fish will follow the hooked fish while it rides the line. These fish have the task of quickly picking up all messages from the rider and relaying it on to the school or other fish in the area.
GFF: So why do some fish jump and others run?
TS: Some don't need to jump. They know from age and experience what's going on and have tried it many times. Carp is a good example. They are wise and can judge an angler by the presentation of the fly or bait, by the tippet and hook choice and by the action of the rod once they are hooked. No need to jump there!
Others are, if you don't mind me saying so, a little stupid, and won't sense any of these things. They have to go out and out again to get it all. Rainbows are quite slow, but when it comes to stupid fish, nothing beats billfish and tarpon. Jumping dozens of times... Sheesh! So lame! I'm sure their spokesfish will disagree, but you'll have to talk to them for more on that subject.
GFF: So what do you trout prefer when it comes to gear, clothing and the type and age of anglers?
TS: Well, I can tell you one thing: we prefer female anglers! Anytime there's a woman fishing, especially together with men, we will go for her hook! But apart from that my lips are sealed. This is a secret that we fish will keep to ourselves!
GFF: But how about lures? What's the first choice? Jigs? Flies? Wobblers? Flies? Bait?
TS: Nah, not bait I can tell you! Bait is actually off limits for all fish, but there are rotten apples in all barrels, and when someone jiggles a worm or some dead piece of clam or smelly fish, even plain bread, it's simply too large a temptation for some.
They ought to know that shaking a swallowed hook is almost impossible and that bait fishers will most likely kill you. Only our carp brothers can eat bait with some success, because the carp anglers usually release them again. And the chumming and feeding going on! These carp are literally living the fat life! Have you seen the girth on some of these fish? Don't get me started on the whole carp obesity issue...
No, really elegant, intelligent and selective fish like trout will of course prefer flies! The fly line ride is considered the best. Dry, wet, full dressed, flatwing or a simple nymph. They all have their merits, but a fly it must be.
The greedy ones of us go for lures of any kind. You know, the chase can give a kick in itself. Instinct takes over like when a dog sees a cat or a fox. The thrill of the pursuit! Oh, man, that's life in the fast lane!
In my eyes sipping a dry fly from the surface is just as exhilarating. But you know how it is. Like with you humans: some like a big frothy beer, some like cool white wine and some like cognac in oddly shaped glasses. To each his own.
GFF: So you fish don't think flies are edible?
TS: No, of course not. Silly you! Would you mistake a Royal Coachman for a hatching insect or a foam popper for a wounded baitfish? We're not that stupid.
It's so obvious that even the smallest parr learns to tell artificial flies from live prey at a young age. Of course some flies look surprisingly like the real thing, but there's always the hook!
So this beautiful and tasty looking sculpin comes swimming along the bottom. But it acts like a drunken monkey on a leash and has a size 4 hook sticking out of its back. Duh! Even you would be able to spot that!
We take such a fly out of pure courtesy. Nicely tied, good deer hair head, great colors... a fly for a real connoisseur.
GFF: Well, thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to us. I guess you'll want to go back into the water now?
TS: That would certainly be nice. Even though your kind assistant has been dipping me now and then, I sure could need to take a deep breath. It's been a pleasure talking to you. We fish don't do this every day, so I hope it's been useful to you and your readers.
So long, and thanks for all the flies!