Diving your local waters

In the early spring @PacificCrestTrials and I braved the slushy snow and icy rocks to fish one of our favorite spots. To our surprise, we got skunked. While pondering our failure, I realized I little I really knew about trout. We imagined returning in the summer months when the fishing was best and surveying the pool from the trout’s point of view.

Well summer is here, and the fishing is great. Donning swim trunks and googles we braved the 60 F river. First toes, then knees, and finally a full dive. As our bodies acclimated to the temps we started to search the pool for trout. After our flashy entrance, we expected all the poor fish to be cowering at the bottom, spooked by the invaders. But the opposite was the case.

Young trout patrolled around us, completely focused on their prime directive: to feed. They glided through the flow of debris washing into the pool, picking out the occasional flotsam. Only after a moment of thoughtful chewing would the trout be sure that they had scored a snack. I was suppressed to see how often they chewed on sticks and other inedible matter, only to spit it out. As I came to understand the rhythm of the feeding trout my attention wondered to the depths at the center of the pool.

I picked a heavy stone from the shore and then swam out towards the pool’s center. As I came over the deepest part, I pulled the stone close and let it sink me. As I came rest on the boulder strewn depths I was met by many cautious trout. They diligently keep their distance, always keeping an eye on me. Some would slip into a crevasse and peer back at me. I found it hard to believe that these shy creatures were the same kind of fish as those vigorously feeding above.

As I became more accustomed to holding my breath in the chilling water I began to explore past the center. On the far corner of the pool the largest trout was idling. This fish had put all the distance between us that it could and was now holding perfectly still. I found myself feeling this was no accident. I wonder how early it had retreated there, if it had fallen back before I even entered the water.

After swimming around a bit more and recovering some lures stuck to the bottom, it was time to put our new knowledge to the test. Matt cast to precisely where we had seen the trout feeding. It was a nearly instant hookup. I followed suite and cast my fly out too, but with a twist: I put my head under water. With my rod over my head and out of the water I was able to watch the entire presentation unfold. I watched an inquisitive trout drifted up to investigate my fly, for a moment it hesitated, then, took it.
It was thrilling.


That is awesome.
If that is up your alley.

  1. http://www.underwateroz.com/
  2. Octopus teacher

OZ has footage and more of what you describe.
Octopus teacher is everything about the the power in understanding an ecosystem. It really strikes a cord with me.

Yes. I snorkel my water but so far it is focused on ocean exploration. As with you it is super educational. Understanding the environment and behavior. Most of the time the water before us is nothing how we pictured it.

Most people think that fish fear humans. I am not sure if they actually connect our form with predators especially in the water.

I had one snorkeling session where I was collecting clams to eat, and as I buried a variety that are not as edible, I look up and a striped bass is circling me. Curious and constantly getting closer. As I swam away, it followed me, and three other larger striped bass joined us. We must have swam that way for about 70 yards. I was a welcomed member of their school. The minute I put a leg down and touched the bottom, they put on the afterburners and took off.

Yes sudden movement and shadow will spook fish but they will acclimate to our presence and some fish are just bolder than others.

I really feel trout especially are like barnacles. They have a home spot that they reach out and feed from, but they really do not move too far from that spot. In high sun, like barnacles, they can be like cave dwellers. Darting out to grab food and returning to the safety of their caves.

Barnacles GIF | Gfycat


Thanks for the links. I’m familiar with The Underwater World of Trout. It’s a bit nerdy, but an amazing resource.

Your story about the striped bass in fun. Maybe I should try snorkeling a bit in the nearby Puget sound?


Yeah the OZ stuff is low video quality and Video Editing/Narration style from the 70s or 80s.

Really snorkeling anywhere can be fun and amazing. Even after doing it for years I still know little about the waters I fish. Its a whole other world for sure.

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