Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

July 19th, 1999

From the Deck

I just came in from our little deck. Quite often I take my coffee break outdoors (especially if the sun is shinning here in the great northwest), and my favorite is to sit on the moonbridge JC built for me and watch the fish.

There are two ponds, neither very big by the serious water-gardeners standards. One is 150 gal. and the other is 250 gal. They are connected by a preformed fiberglass thing which we have named the 'Creeklet.' Too small to be a creek, it does provide some rememberance of creeks in other places. Water circulates from the small one back up to the larger one and dribbles back again.

There are fish in both ponds, a few small koi in the larger and a lot more small fan-tail goldfish in the little one. The Creeklet is screened off so the fish can't get stranded between the ponds. Been there, had dead fish.

I've fallen into a system to feed the fish. The goldfish in the lower pond are fed first. They don't get very much, and keep in mind, this water is being filtered and circulated back up to the larger pond.

Here's where it get interesting!

It takes less than one minute for the fish in the upper pond to be turned on to the food in the lower pond.

Of course, at that point I feed those fish too. But they have smelled that very small amount of food, now diluted into 400 gallons total! That sure says something about the sensitivity of a fish's nose.

Years ago I fished for coho (silver) salmon with my dad on Lake Michigan. Quite often I caught more fish than dad, until he heard about a local (Frankfort, MI) custom. A bag of dog or cat food in the boat. Before he touched a lure or fly, he rubbed his hands with the stuff in the bag.

Question is was that the beginnings of the bottled scents the bait fishermen use? Or - did it just remove whatever scent from his hands?

Let that one roll around in your head for a minute. Now, what happens when you tie a fly? How about when you tie it on to fish? Are there substances on your hands that transfer to the fly? Other odors, like cigarette smoke, cooking odors? Do the scents of medications transfer to the fly from your hands?

One of the early Tying Tips articles was about washing your hands before you start tying flies. At the time I thought it was a good idea, but didn't really put that much importance on it. Watching my fish changed my mind.

The problem this all brings to mind is this: if the fish can smell such minute amounts, is it only a reconizable food substance that turns them on? Or do all other non-food scents turn them off? I don't have an answer, it's just a question at this point.

But if the non-food scents turn them off, how about the various fly floatants we use? I've been told not to get sun screen on my flies, maybe for the same reason.

I've considered treating a dry fly or two with floatant and dropping them on the pond, purely in the scientific research mode, to see if the koi would come up. I do see them take insects from the surface of the pond, but I'm concerned the size of the smallest hook I have would be too big. Something mosquito size would probably work tho.

If you have any experience along this line, or have read something about it, I'd appreciate a post on our Bulletin Board. ~ LadyFisher

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

Archive of Ladyfisher Articles

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice