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Trout Fishing Mentors & Revelations - Part 1

One of the biggest problems I find in writing books and articles on fishing, more particularly on how to fish, is to avoid providing information for info's sake.

Let me try and explain. Way back in my corporate world days I was involved in the commissioning and interpreting of hundreds of consumer research projects. As I progressed up the corporate ladder I had to approve, or otherwise, many research projects proposed by my staff. I was having trouble deciding which ones to proceed with.

An early mentor of mine in one of the companies I worked for gave me some advice that made the decision easier. He advised that I test all information gathering proposals by answering three questions:

My mentor advised that if you cannot answer all three questions, and have not got a very clear vision on the third, then don't get the info.

Trout fishing is an activity that is covered by literally thousands of books, videos and screeds of information on the net. There are books, videos and web-sites devoted to every aspect of the sport. Whole books, videos and web-sites devoted to one stream, river or lake. Books devoted to one method of fishing, or the things trout eat and when. Hundreds and hundreds of books on flies and lures, and how to make them.

Reading the books, websites and watching the videos will supply an invaluable background of info, but until that information is put to use on the water, the information is just that, info.

The critical factor in turning raw information into something valuable – something that can be used, is to gain experience. Experience that will demonstrate why the information is valuable and how you can use that information to achieve your goals.

The fastest way I know of turning raw information into valuable experience is to find a mentor, an advisor who can, by clear explanation or more powerfully, by demonstration, reveal to what use the information you already have can be put to. Often the experience of a mentor can produce an experience that can only be described as a revelation. In a few moments all those pieces of information that were bouncing about in the dark depths of your memory flash into the foreground and you see what you had been missing.

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A case in point

"Fush Yerr Feet Furrst"

He was perhaps 50. (Me? About 13.) Everyone over 20 seemed old at that time. His accent proved that he was a local, in the Southland, New Zealand waters I was fishing.

He was downstream fishing, and had moved to halfway down the pool. Permission to enter the pool requested and granted, 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 yerr feet firrst”, he grunted.

“I beg your pardon. Sir?” 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.

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He backed out of the pool, and asked me to join him up on the bank, five metres above the pool. There he carefully and patiently pointed out 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 the bottom to 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 right at my feet. Well, they were, until I had blundered into their lie.

He quietly and patiently explained the first thing a good angler should do approaching a pool, is nothing. Nothing in the water that is. hould, from a good vantage point, study the water, and try and identify where fish would most likely 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 carefully in 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 some of our more crowded rivers today.

Part 2

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