Karl Seckinger

Karl "Trout Whisperer" Seckinger is an outdoor enthusiast and resides in northeastern Minnesota.

Posts about Trout

Poikilothermic Fish

Posted by: Karl Seckinger Updated: August 17, 2009 - 2:35 PM

If you have ever walked up to a trout stream and the fins just zip out of sight, you could have warned the gill breather by vibrations from your heavy foot falls or maybe you were busted by “Snells window”.

Trout have some oddities. They typically have the same density as the water surrounding them. This is really convenient for trout survival considering that sound passes through air at roughly 770 mph, but passes through regular pure water at over 3000 mph. You make the wrong noise in a wet trout environment, you lose.

Banging oars or paddles on a kayak or canoe can send trout for cover at speeds you cannot cast quickly enough. Last time I checked my fly cast’s don’t go over 2000 mph, it pays to be quiet in and around trout water.

Trout are ectotherms. They acquire there temperature from the surrounding water. The term cold blooded (Poikilothermic) is misleading.

If the water is 38 degrees and the fish’s metabolism is slow you may work harder for a trout.  If for instance, the water temp is up to mid fifties they may come easier. 

Also, deep water lakes can have fish in forty degree, 80 foot deep, low metabolic rate.   In that same water body, fish higher in the water column, fish at a much warmer, higher, metabolic rate. One lake, one specie of rainbow trout and they become two different targets to fish for, based solely on temperature.

Trout have another phenomenon on there side and it’s referred to as “Snells window”. Trout looking around in their watery surroundings acquire an image with the proper light conditions that you, and any predator or prey, are much closer in view, than in actual reality.

Snells window if you’re not careful as a fisherman has a double whammy. When I walk up to the stream the trout appear closer than they are. Watch where you let your body shadow fall to include the action of your rod casting. 

Trout miss the fly sometimes not because you didn’t set the hook, but they miss judged the distance. Trout have fed heavily on one hatch that occurs at seven, almost sunset pm. (Small little gnat lets say.) That same fish slaps at an eleven in the bright sunshine morning grasshopper and misses the first time. A second cast, and all is well.

If the trout can see you, before you see them or they appear closer than they really are, you better practice your casting and approach trout streams like you’re going after a trophy buck.

Cloudy day, moonlight, bright sunshine all comes into play. Water clarity, turbidity, and currents add some fun to the mix as well.  Tougher weather works in the fisherman’s favor. Some lures that have internal sound producing features may scare fish one day and hook them the next. Glow in the dark or match the hatch is all part of the game.

The trout fishing game is not just the right food at the right time. They have a diet, but they will forget food if there sound spooked or the picture doesn’t look right to them. Everyone knows about the occasional trout that hit the tin can lid but it’s the exception more than the rule. They make mistakes but less often than you think.

Trout Whisperer
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'Dad, stop talking!'

Posted by: Karl Seckinger Updated: July 20, 2009 - 8:57 AM

My daughter has in her hands a nine foot five weight fly rod for the first time ever. She is twelve. We're on the Iron River in northern Wisconsin trout fishing. I'm offering many pertinent points on how to fly fish. “Dad I got it”. She does not want any more pointers from me for the rest of today. So I just coach like I’m talking to myself about keeping the back cast up, don’t forget the ten and two o’clock position. “YEAH Dad”!

As her fly hits the water she casts a glance at me and then back at the rivers surface. I say, "it’s a good idea to watch the strike indicator instead of me", so she will not miss quick hitting fish. “Watch for the fish to hit, okay? “Concentrate on the casting and the fishing okay? “Dad if you stop talking I could”. So in my fatherly head I think, “I hope a fish hits” that will teach her.

The rod silences me as it snaps taught. Even Gods on her side. The arc is telling and she responds by raising the rod. Now she is playing the fish by just holding on. Talk about a burst of upstream questions. I reel up and drop my rod on shore as I come in behind her. She asks “what do I do”? Feather the line through your fingers as the fish lunges”. “Honey back away to the shore for more solid footing but keep the line tight”.

This is not a moment of just my little girl. The fish has its own ideas and me as well. The fish rips upstream and goes deep. The rod almost lays parallel to the water. I bark to quickly, "lift the tip",  she responds slower than I’d like but she gets the angle back on the fish.

“Dad will I get this fish”? “Should I stay right here”? “Where’s the net”?

“Honey hold on now”. “The fish will start to run, when it does you need to slip line back through the guides fast and keep the tension on”. “Use your fingers to pinch the line with your reel hand against the rod grip if you have to, ok”? “When the fish comes at you, just let the slack loops fall but don’t trip on it okay”? “The trout’s running again, move up shore, watch your step, and keep the tip up honey”. She does not argue, she reacts.

The fish about butts and it’s off on a downstream run. The rod swings in a three plane twist and she is being rod run led by the unseen. “Stay with the fish Kass, just shuffle down stream and keep it tight, keep it tight honey”. The reel drag speaks and she looks at me and I go full dad on her. “Watch the fish honey, watch the fish”.

Half way to the trout it reverses direction again, now its  running back upstream. “Kass strip in line fast”. “Lift the rod way back over your head”. My little girl looks like she’s whipping a rodeo whip that’s stuck on a fence post spike, but she’s into her fish solid. Too much rod, to short a daughter, so I grab line and get the rod back under her control. The fish has the river for leverage, Kass has me.

The rod pumps, little rips and then she gains line. She’s winning. I take my net off my back and move in to the river from her downstream side. “Don’t tow the fish Kass, just keep it snug honey”. We both see the brown trout at the same time. The tail comes into the net and I scoop with a forward thrust.

Dotted spotted and the color of butter is her summer brown trout. “Dad I want to let it go”. “Can I congratulate you first”?

See this is where I know her mother, who died when Kass was almost four years old still has something to do with her parenting. Me that’s meat. I’m into catch and release to the skillet. But from my own mouth comes “sure honey, it’s your fish”. “Thanks dad”. Well today both the girls, one here next to me, and one above, have gotten the last word once again.

Trout Whisperer
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I Cannot See It...Yet

Posted by: Karl Seckinger Updated: June 16, 2009 - 12:49 PM

When the daylight is fading I can fish, when it’s dark, I’m done. Give me a smidgen of light to work with and I’m your boy. But once the lights go out overhead I start putting friend’s, flora and fauna at risk. So I sit, in the dark, and wait.

Last night, from my right, I get a warning shot, “hey your back cast just swished my ear”. I said, “Did you move” maybe it was a bat“? No you bone head you’re loosing site of the target, and by the way it’s an entire lake,” I waded down shore, sloshed for terra firma and tore my rod down. I think he was just getting antsy waiting and because I caught more trout.
 
I did catch more trout to. I also got one alder branch, two stalks of raspberry cane, two wind knots and managed to catch my own fly rod once. It’s just me getting excited when the fish start to feed in a frenzy. Then I start flailing in a frenetic method not much touted in the annals of angling.
 
He waits for one distinct rise form on or after dark with the perfect plop. The guy can stand there like a heron and not move a stinking muscle. My head is swarming with bugs that I swat at. He’s gone in the trout Zen mediation state hacks like me will never understand.

Dobie is all poised and more centered when the hatch is coming off and can site cast to one set of rings perfectly. Then he waits. I don’t, I hammer the water and haul em home, I figure their on the prowl anyway and great fishing never lasts long enough for me. He “twitches” the offing.
 
He has all the patience, perfected form and just wants to dance the evening away with one fish, he drives me nuts. I’d rather have a dozen twelve inch fish hit than his one bowed pink arc of triumph.  Sometimes he doesn’t even get a strike. He thinks I’ll grow into this attitude some day, I sure hope not.

A grunt  indicates its time to walk over and not be able to see what has line ripping away into the darkness. Dobber is talking, one for him and one to a fish. “Easy, easy”, is what he keeps repeating. If I don’t look directly at where he is I can sorta see his silhouette. “Whoa, nice fish” comes from the dark.  I think I hear him net it.” Hey come here”. Now he’s wading towards shore.
 
With his fancy hat light he beams over the bow. It’s a net filler for sure and hasta go 18 inches. I said, “Dobbs, that’s a nice trout”. Dobbs shouted, “Yeah look at that baby, now wasn’t that worth waiting for?"  I replied, “it was for you”.

The Trout Whisperer
justnorth.com

Do fish feel pain?

Posted by: Karl Seckinger Updated: May 6, 2009 - 11:23 AM

One famous television show line went, “You wanna catch a fish? Think like a fish.” Since fish have very small brains and believe me I checked. I Talked to three fish researchers at the University of Minnesota, main campus and at UMD and they all pretty much agreed, a very large brain( fish/trout brains are shaped like a small rope with a knot in the middle) in 7 pound trout like we have here in the North  is smaller than one peanut or jelly bean. Every fish brain article I have checked goes on to say fish can’t think. So while that TV line is clever or cute, it misses the hook set by a wide margin.

Some fish (trout specifically) researchers found that small steelhead hatched in rearing ponds with the simple addition of stones and small rocks to their  aquatic environment as yolk sac fry sized actually enlarged the cerebellum in the trout’s brain. It didn’t make a bigger brain but the motor skills or movement aspect of the brain increased. This did however make for a better survival rate in stocked fish. This research isn’t over yet either.

Do trout/fish feel pain?

Neurobiologists are split brain on this issue. Go figure. A leading consensus however says fish don’t feel pain. The University of Wyoming and a University in Liver pool England have some interesting tidbits to pass along. One is that if trout (rainbows in this study) do not have the apparatus in the trout brain for pain reception and fish don’t, they cannot feel pain. This is a pretty simple concept according to Wyoming and their research.

Jolly old England went so far as to sting trout with bee venom and the trout rubbed their chins on gravel river bottoms exhibiting what these English researchers called pain. Problem here was no nociceptors (big word) fired in the trout brain. They may have done the same thing with too much maple syrup injected. Reaction yes, but pain, they can’t distinguish. No fish thinking going on here, just reaction.

So why do fish (trout) react the way they do when we set the hook? Answer, according to all I read in the simplest form is, fish don’t want to go the way were pulling them. Fight or flight and their lack of brain intellect as researchers know or are aware, only allow for the most basic flight response. Remember, fish can’t talk or think (Not at all close to what humans are capable of).

As humans we tend and sometimes try to get everything on earth humanized.  So how is a trout close to humans?  In more ways than not, their not. They are fish. So the simple minded  fish  is once again simply having reactions. So you wanna catch a fish?  Don’t think like a fish,  just go fishing.

The trout whisperer
JustNorth Outdoors
Connecting Families with the Great Outdoors!
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Do fish feel pain?

Posted by: Karl Seckinger Updated: May 6, 2009 - 11:23 AM

One famous television show line went, “You wanna catch a fish? Think like a fish.” Since fish have very small brains and believe me I checked. I Talked to three fish researchers at the University of Minnesota, main campus and at UMD and they all pretty much agreed, a very large brain( fish/trout brains are shaped like a small rope with a knot in the middle) in 7 pound trout like we have here in the North  is smaller than one peanut or jelly bean. Every fish brain article I have checked goes on to say fish can’t think. So while that TV line is clever or cute, it misses the hook set by a wide margin.

Some fish (trout specifically) researchers found that small steelhead hatched in rearing ponds with the simple addition of stones and small rocks to their  aquatic environment as yolk sac fry sized actually enlarged the cerebellum in the trout’s brain. It didn’t make a bigger brain but the motor skills or movement aspect of the brain increased. This did however make for a better survival rate in stocked fish. This research isn’t over yet either.

Do trout/fish feel pain?

Neurobiologists are split brain on this issue. Go figure. A leading consensus however says fish don’t feel pain. The University of Wyoming and a University in Liver pool England have some interesting tidbits to pass along. One is that if trout (rainbows in this study) do not have the apparatus in the trout brain for pain reception and fish don’t, they cannot feel pain. This is a pretty simple concept according to Wyoming and their research.

Jolly old England went so far as to sting trout with bee venom and the trout rubbed their chins on gravel river bottoms exhibiting what these English researchers called pain. Problem here was no nociceptors (big word) fired in the trout brain. They may have done the same thing with too much maple syrup injected. Reaction yes, but pain, they can’t distinguish. No fish thinking going on here, just reaction.

So why do fish (trout) react the way they do when we set the hook? Answer, according to all I read in the simplest form is, fish don’t want to go the way were pulling them. Fight or flight and their lack of brain intellect as researchers know or are aware, only allow for the most basic flight response. Remember, fish can’t talk or think (Not at all close to what humans are capable of).

As humans we tend and sometimes try to get everything on earth humanized.  So how is a trout close to humans?  In more ways than not, their not. They are fish. So the simple minded  fish  is once again simply having reactions. So you wanna catch a fish?  Don’t think like a fish,  just go fishing.

The trout whisperer
JustNorth Outdoors
Connecting Families with the Great Outdoors!
justnorth.com