On any day in May and June there will almost certainly be some sort of a rise at some time of the day, but rises are of all sorts. Some of the best seeming rises are the most disappointing, and some of those which seem poor turn out to be good taking ones. Whatever the kind of rise may be, it is well to bear in mind that there are some trout which seem to be set as decoys in certain places to attract the angler's attention and make him waste his time. These trout begin to rise soon and leave off late, and refuse to take an artificial fly. The angler who knows the water well, probably knows most of these fish or the places which they frequent, and does not spend much time over them, if there are other fish feeding; but on strange water it is well to be on the lookout for this class of fish, and not to spend too much time over an obstinate trout unless the extent of water at one's disposal is very limited. In the water at Winchester all the trout were more or less of this class, but that was exceptional. On days when the trout are feeding, but ignore the artificial fly, it is best to give special attention to trout in difficult situations, where they are likely to be not so well educated; and if even these are obstinate, the angler had better settle down where most trout are feeding, and stick to them doggedly, changing his fly as often as he likes. A trout which continues to feed will make a mistake sooner or later, if the angler's patience and his wrist and arm hold out long enough. " Bulging " trout in particular are generally not shy, and will stand any amount of fair fishing without ceasing "to feed.
The days when I have had most difficulty with the shyness of trout have not been at all bright days, but quiet dull days with an even monotonous light. In this light, and in the evening light before sunset, the trout are often very shy, both of the angler and the gut. Trout differ very much in this respect on different days, and on all days individual trout differ more or less from each other.
A great deal may be learnt of the behaviour of trout on bright days, when they can be seen in the water. Let us suppose that a good fish is seen feeding where the angler can get into position and prepare to cast without disturbing it. The fly is thrown above the trout, which may of course take fright at once and rush off to its shelter, and if so there is an end ; but short of this the trout may drop slowly down stream and go quietly away, or may just sink in the water and cease feeding. Assuming, however, that the trout takes no offence at the first cast, it may then take the fly with hesitation, as if it were making an experiment, or with confidence as if the fly were exactly like a natural one, or with an appearance of rapture, as if the angler's fly were the one thing for which it had been waiting; or finally, the trout may take a middle course between the two possible extremes of fear and confidence, and either take no notice whatever of the fly or move to it and refuse it. It is desperate work to continue to cast over a fish which never takes any notice, but as long as a trout makes any movement towards the fly it is worth while to go on fishing for it and to try a change of fly. Sometimes a new fly of the same pattern will succeed where a much used one has failed, and a change of the size of fly may be as important as a change of pattern. Now and then the trout is so interested in the fly that it leaves its place and comes down stream, inspecting the fly closely as it floats: sometimes this ends in the trout taking the fly, at others in its coming down stream till it sees the angler. Occasionally it neither sees him nor takes the fly and goes slowly back to its feeding place; and in any case the angler's only chance is to keep perfectly still and make no movement, unless the fly is actually taken.
Most trout are scared by rising at an artificial fly, even when they are not touched by the hook. They know when you strike that something has happened, which they did not expect, and they either cease feeding or refuse for some time to rise to the artificial fly again. On the other hand, I have occasionally been clearly conscious of touching a trout in striking, and seen it continue to rise afterwards. With one trout I had a curious experience—it was a fish of at least two pounds' weight and apparently in very good condition. It rose to my fly at the first cast; I struck, and for a just perceptible moment the rod bent, and I thought I had the trout, but the fly came back to me, and I saw the fish drop down stream and lie at the bottom, apparently meditative rather than frightened. Very soon it began to work up stream, and in a few minutes was rising again in the same place as before. Again I made what seemed to me a cast much like the first one, but this time it had the effect of putting the trout down altogether. On more than one subsequent day in the same season, though there was a fish, which I believe to be the identical one referred to above rising in that spot, I never could get a rise from it, and it generally disappeared at the first cast. I have given this instance of an individual trout having found safety in education, because on the first occasion I never for a moment lost sight of the fish, and could be sure of its identity during the whole time. There would otherwise have been no certainty of its being the same fish that rose a second time in the same place on the first day. It is astonishing how soon the exact position of one rising trout will be taken by another as soon as there is a vacancy: sometimes if the angler gets a trout quickly down stream after hooking it, he may on returning to the place after the first trout has been landed, find a second already occupying the vacant place and feeding there, as if it had known the advantages of this particular spot and been waiting for an opportunity of occupying it.
In writing of dry fly fishing, the expression " good water" has frequently been used, and it may be well to give some idea of what the expression means in the mind of the writer. Good water must be neither over-stocked nor over-fished, and must be water which is naturally capable of holding and fattening trout up to at least three pounds in weight. In the smaller parts of chalk streams, near the source, there is generally water which holds quantities of trout, and where a very large total weight may be killed with a dry fly in a day, but the fish in these places are as a rule satisfactory neither in size nor condition.