National Geographic : 1958 Apr
The Author Sets a Photographic Ambush for a Wary Subject Tempting his quarry into camera range, Mr. Davidson maneuvers the fly to attract the trout and induce it to leap through the light beam (dotted line). The electric eye automatically fires camera and speedlights mounted on the board at water level. found a likely stream fall when I dropped my camera into the water. Fortunately, it dried in the autumn wind, and soon I was working away, shooting whenever my senses told me that a trout was about to leap. I could hardly miss, for fish were coming frequently. And whenever luck permitted me to catch a trout at the peak of his jump, I got a clear picture. These photographs, of course, lack the close detail of those taken electronically, but they show more of the trout's native world-the current-churned waters and banks rich with hemlock (page 526). It was appropriate to photograph the brook trout in this setting, for he is a true Ameri can among fresh-water game fish. He is also generally conceded the favorite of fly fisher men. But the sportsman is not to blame for the brook's rarity today. As America's popu lation swelled, natural conditions changed. Forests were felled, and small tributary streams dried up. Parent fish had to spawn in the hazardous main streams, where eggs were smothered by muddy water and destroyed by variable water temperatures. My home State, rich in mountain streams, 530 realized early that something should be done to protect the native trout. Pennsylvania passed conservation laws and experimented in raising trout. Rainbows were brought from the western streams. Fishing improved. The breeding, stocking, and managing of game fish is now a million-dollar industry in my State alone; nationally, the figure is close to $40,000,000. This expense is largely borne by the sale of fishing licenses. To lure the angler, hatcheries are producing trout with brighter colors (the fish are fed paprika) and with greater fighting vigor. But no matter how vigorous trout become, they will still be easier to catch on a hook than on film. Out of some 1,000 photographs I have taken of leaping trout, I can find just 36 "keepers" and only 11 of really top quality. Yet such selectivity has its own rewards. Since exhibiting my earliest pictures, I have received inquiries from a surprising number of people. Other nature photographers have adopted these techniques. Our "impossible" problem is resulting in a more intimate glimpse of nature-from fish to birds, and who knows what else?