Gamefish Behaviors and Comparative Angling Theories


china-fishingflies.com / 2013-07-19 18:01:59

SELECTIVE FEEDING: Insects and Baitfish often have times when they are numerous and vulnerable to predation. At these time periods predators like game fish will prey upon them and ignore other food sources during this peak period of availability. This selective behavior is famous with many trout species and has been the cause of a great many fly designs within the flytying world. Anglers who catch fish after fish during these times have mastered the presentation and pattern to a point where the fish cannot distinguish the difference between the artificial and the natural. It can be surprisingly simple to catch large trout during selective feeding times if you are equipped with all the right stuff. Often the largest fish during these times will feed on the scrambling to hatch emergers and nymphs until they are all up then these fish will switch to the last remaining adults or surface strugglers. This Hyper selective behavior is common on rivers and streams in Canada that have prolific hatches and attract anglers worldwide. Selective trout can be caught on fly patterns that don`t even appear as anything like the naturals hatching at these times. However, these are few and far between and are inconsistant which explains why inexperienced anglers switch flies often in the hope to attract another selective feeder to strike again.


①    FOOD THEORY

By angling with the best possible shape/silhouette and size of insect to match the hatch during Selective feeding times is coinsidental with energy output and calorie input which is why gamefish become Selective to begin with. Simply put, the vast majority of anglers apply the fact that fish have to eat to survive and their lure choice should look like the natural particularly during prolific hatches.

②    ESCAPE/CHASE THEORY

The escape/chase theory is perhaps best explained by comparing it with a basic animal behavior to control the environment around it. When a mouse streaks across the floor or an insect enters the room the first reaction is to catch it, control it or kill it. This basic response can’t be ignored in angling and often is the reason why strange and unusual flies or lures can catch gamefish, even if the desire is simply to observe. This Phenomenon is sometimes called Adrenalin Stimulation.


RYTHMIC FEEDING: In order to reduce the energy used on swimming to feed gamefish will time the intake if possible at certain intervals. Trout in lakes and slow water will swim in a desicive pattern along a shoreline (for example) and intake at particular areas along the chosen path.. Larger lentic gamefish will often behave in this way to feed on prominent baitfish available in the lake. Gamefish in rivers and streams will rise at almost precise times to maximize the energy input. This behavior often occurs during Selectivity when a hatch is thick enough to warrant such action. The Bow River in Calgary Alberta is famous for this Selective Phenomena however, it takes stealth and patience to notice a rhythmic feeder during a prolific and often exciting hatch time.


①    FOOD THEORY

With Rhythmic Selection, timing your fly presentation is critical. You must time your cast to the precise intake interval of the fish, and the fly should look like and act like the natural. Call this the throat cast, you might have to cast a dozen or more times to get one perfectly timed down the throat presentation but it`s effective on huge fish. This applies to moving waters as in still waters you must stalk the gamefish on the move as oppose to a stationary feeder.

②    ESCAPE/CHASE THEORY

Because Rhythmic feeding does not always occur during Selectivity the lure or food item can vary with good possibilities of Adrenalin Stimulation however, consistancy is usually better achieved with matching the hatch in progress. It is ironic yet that a trophy trout can be caught with a big fat properly presented Grasshopper or the like during Rhythmic Selection.


TERRITORIALITY AND DEFENSE: Many gamefish species will defend a good hold or position as their territory against aquatic fauna and other fish. The fish will remain in this particular area as long that space sustains it`s needs. Until it is caught, forced out by something larger, or the environment will not sustain it, it will remain. Areas that meet all of the needs of the territorialist gamefish and provide protection and cover in times of trouble are “Hot Spots” that are not easily recognized by many an angler. Creeks, Streams & medium sized Rivers in central Alberta are well known for such areas but it is rare to achieve success with consistancy in such places.


①    FOOD THEORY

To select a lure that is most likely to be recognized by the territorialist as something edible be it common or not is an area of fly design that is modern to most anglers. A gaint moth, a huge waterbeetle, perhaps a drowning rhodent of some kind, any of these tied to look real and presented with life like movement offers opportunities to anglers who are serious about hunting for trophy`s.

②    ESCAPE/CHASE THEORY

The Stimulation of Adrenlin is even more so with the territorialist gamefish and can provide angling possibilities unique to such areas as recognized. Because most fish use their mouth first to attack or defend themselves the chances of a strike are good as long as you do not scare or spook the fish and it is neither scared nor spooked by the lure.


AMBUSH FEEDING: Northern Pike are famous for the behavior of stratigically holding in a camouflage position then pouncing on unsuspecting prey. Trout and other gamefish when they become large enough will also behave in this way particularly as the fishes need for food requires it to seek larger sustanance. The territorialist has the advantage of this tactic usually somewhere within it`s chosen area and often need go nowhere far to feed except be patient. Large Lentic gamefish sometimes team together to corral baitfish schools by circling them and then take turns ambushing the centre of the school to separate them and pick off stragglers. Large loner trout will take advantage of a shoreline or structure of some sort to trap a school in a detained area and then use this same tactic of ambush to separate and single out the weak, easy, or fat target.


①    FOOD THEORY

By angling with an artificial fly that closely looks like the prominent baitfish of that area and with a reasonably natural presentation, Ambush feeders can be surprisingly easy to induce a take. For consistancy to match the minnow as you would match the hatch is the way.


②    ESCAPE/CHASE THEORY

Ambush feeders most often position themselves close to areas where baitfish are & it is logical to use something that suggests that food form however, spoons, spinners, jigs and plugs are most successful along with large flies because the Ambush feeder is on the hunt, and ready to defend or attack that which comes into range. Again this explains why the unorthodox and unusual lure can succede, it also explains why Ambush feeders can be taken on such a wide range of lures.


GROUP FEEDING AND PECKING ORDERS: Group feeding is when a school of gamefish feed together in large numbers for protection, comfort, and efficiency. Often the largest individuals of the school will be situated on the perimeter to protect the group and offer defence as the biggest are best able to ward off predators and the like. These school gaurdians will feed but are easily spooked and are the first alert to warn the school. Pecking Orders occur with gamefish that are more individual and territorial with the primary positions of a pool (for example) holding the largest fish, while the secondary and more vulnerable places within the pool going to the intermediate and smaller fish. The “cleshe” of the best spot for the big one is quite true as long as the environment has not been polluted or the waters overfished and exhausted. This is perhaps one of the main reasons why experienced anglers will catch and release even their trophy fish as their desire is to be able to come back again and repeat or share the experience with others. Trophy fish need time to get big and if most anglers keep many of the fish they catch particularly in a heavily fished area what remains is soon depleted or does not get time to grow larger.


①    FOOD THEORY

As the struggle for position occurs naturally the most experienced fish of both schools and pecking orders are often Selective.

②    ESCAPE/CHASE THEORY

It is much easier to catch a lot of smaller and medium size fish in both schools and pecking orders as the positions they hold do not allow them the same opportunities to be as Selective.


NON FEEDING RANDOM FEEDING & NOCTURNAL BEHAVIOR: When gamefish are not on the feed, resting in cover or their protective holds it is most difficult to induce them to strike at anything during these doldrum periods. To try and Stimulate Adrenlin at these times is perhaps a good possibility particularly if the lure appears to be in trouble of some sort. An injured minnow fluttering by, a large diving beetle surfacing then decending in a panic, a large and deeply fished stonefly nymph with twitches, or perhaps a giant moth skittering and dancing on top of the water to escape the surface tension. To the angler it matters not if the gamefish strikes out of hunger or just out of aggression but when the lure and presentation combine both theories together you increase your chances of a strike and the possibilities of a trophy if the area houses such fish. All mature trout species have both black & white and color vision. Used in low light the black & white vision is more sensitive but see`s only shades. Large mature Trophy trout become nocturnal as they age and their feeding habits change to suit their need for food. Angling at dusk and after or before sunrise are good times to hunt for large trout that mostly rest during bright light hours. Overcast and dull days can also be productive as the low light can bring out the big ones from their lairs.


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