It hit me the other day like a bolt out of the blue. Of course! Why hadn’t I seen it before? It was there all along. Now the pieces were all starting to fall into place.
As soon as I tell you what it is, you’ll slap yourself on the head and say, “Yes! Why didn’t I realize it? It’s perfectly obvious.”
Here it is: Fish can understand us when we speak.
I’ll prove it to you. Have you ever been fishing and said to your fishing partner, “Let’s catch one more and go home”? Did you ever catch that last fish? No! The fish heard you and they, the devils that they are, they refused to bite so that you would stay longer than you should and so that your wife would be mad at you when you got home so she wouldn’t let you go fishing the next week and made you clean out behind the refrigerator.
Have you ever been showing someone how to fly fish and said, “I guarantee you there’s got to be a fish in this deep run.” Did you catch one? No! The fish heard you and got out of Dodge. They were sitting over in the skinny water laughing at you, placing bets on how many times you would change flies.
Have you ever been fishing on the side of a lake or been in a boat with nothing biting, and said to your fishing buddy, “Watch my strike indicator while I go shake the dew from the lily?” What happens the moment you get your zipper down? Your bobber takes off across the lake. Just as soon as you get your zipper up and grab your rod, the bobber comes to rest. And you want to argue with me that fish can’t understand you? This happens to fisherman all over the world. The only thing that makes sense is that fish can understand us.
Now the irony of it all is, even though fishermen don’t realize that fish can understand them, other sportsmen believe that inanimate objects can hear them. The golfer yells at the golf ball and tells it to “sit” or “bounce left.” The NY Jets fan yells at the TV to tell it that Gronk was holding. Fools! Golf balls can’t hear. Televisions can’t throw a flag. But fish can hear us.
Newly stocked trout can’t understand you as well as, shall we say, “schooled” trout. That’s why they are so easy to catch. When you say to your fishing buddy, “Hey, Alphonse, there’s a bunch of them over here,” the SNIT (stocked nine inch trout) are still learning the language. But they learn fast. In two weeks the SNIT will be listening into your conversations and much harder to catch.
I know, I know, you are looking for scientific evidence. Well, do a scientific experiment to test my hypothesis. The next time you go fishing and you are standing at a place where trout could hear you, say out loud, “I hope I catch a turtle.”
If it’s true that fish can hear you, you’re likely to catch more fish there. Why? Because when they hear that you are hoping for a turtle, they relax and put their guard down. They may also think you are a little crazy – fishing for turtles in a trout stream. Also, trout know that turtles can’t understand human speech.
This all works to your advantage; you want the trout to think you are a little wacko. When you say out loud that you are fishing for turtles, using reverse psychology on them, they won’t know what hit them when you reveal your true intentions and pierce their lips with a red fox squirrel nymph. Then the trout will go, “Dang, that’s one smart human. He knows the secret.”
Of course, to make it truly scientific, you’ll have to go to an equally good fishing location and say out loud, “I hope I catch a trout” and see if you catch as many as at the previous spot. But I can tell you right now, you won’t want to do that because once you realize the power of the spoken word with trout, all you’ll want to say is, “I hope I catch a turtle.”
Now most of you think you are too sophisticated to talk to trout. After all we are fly fishermen, not lowly bait-casters. But some day, when the chips are down, when you’ve been through everything in your fly box, when you are confused and depressed because you haven’t moved a trout all day and you are willing to try just about anything, give it a try. Say, “I hope I catch a turtle” and hang onto your rod.