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Localised thunderstorms and missing fish

Are localised storms and rising water causing fish to change feeding habits?


Dark clouds on the horizon.
Dark clouds on the horizon.
Rising water gets trout excited and brings them on the take.
Rising water gets trout excited and brings them on the take.
Bright skies, but coloured water.
Bright skies, but coloured water.

Strange weather this year, with a lot of thunderstorms but highly localised and in many cases, and very heavy rainfall resulting in some fresh ‘flushes’ of water in our north east rivers, which is always welcome.

Thing is, the localised nature of these has seen me on several occasions fishing a beat in sunny weather that suddenly begins to colour up with rising water. It's great, as it generally switches the fish onto the take, but unexpected if you’re lashing on the Factor 50 in mid-20 degree temperatures with little in the way of cloud cover overhead.

OK, you soon become ‘accustomed’ to this and the surprise value is removed, especially given the fact you start to monitor the forecast upstream of you and often it’s obvious what’s happening with the ominous, big black clouds on the horizon.

But again it can still be very localised; last week, I was only about four miles below the town of Huntly and, despite being surrounded by rain-clouds and the odd rumble of thunder in the distance, I barely saw any rain.  Meanwhile, the river was colouring and rising pretty quickly so I knew it was certainly pouring down upstream of me. What I didn’t appreciate, or know, was that this was happening a mere four miles above me and the streets of Huntly were awash, with drainage systems struggling to cope (or not, in some cases) with the ferocity and amount of rainfall they were experiencing. Downstream of the storm I was happily fishing away without even donning a jacket.

Something else which a little eyebrow-raising is a recent tendency for feeding fish to ‘miss’ or try to ‘sink’ your dry.  Now, I just put this down to me, some drag, or the pattern not being quite right etc – a common occurrence which we face all the time.

But then I thought it was possibly down to water colouring up and the sight-line of fish to target was not as clear. Thing is, that what was common was (is) the fact that you were taken confidently and cleanly with the first two or three fish then missing them, or when watching more closely, fish were missing you. A change to a lower-riding, half-sunk style of fly and ‘Bingo’ instant hook-ups, but again only lasting for a few fish then it was back to missing again.

This became fairly frequent and not only on the one visit, but over several visits to the river; and it wasn’t just me either, as other fishermen around were reporting the same thing.

So I’m still not convinced it wasn’t just down to me, but again it could be the coloured water, or even perhaps the way the fish were feeding?  Were they ‘over-stimulated’ in the changing conditions and progressing from steady feeding into a more rushed and ‘excited’ feeding style causing them to rush at the fly?

Maybe, but it's another little bit of the mystery and fun that keeps us guessing and learning; it would be all too boring if it was the same all the time.

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