Mousing is not Fly Fishing

Mousing is not fly fishing, although practitioners of this nefarious method would argue otherwise. They believe that catching and killing in excess of 1000 (yes 1000) trout in a season, proves they are the best "anglers" to fish Bristol Water Fisheries, in particular Barrow Tanks.

You don't know what "mousing" is? I will explain but not all the tricks, as it is not a method I would not like to see encouraged. The mouse fly itself is a deer hair imitation of a trout pellet usually with a coloured tag, often sold in tackle shops as a carp fly.

Equipment needed. Fly rod, fast sinking shooting head, reel with loud ratchet, heavy stone, mouse fly, secret floatant (made of baby products for scent trail), long forceps, long handled landing net, priest, comfortable chair, umbrella (optional) and big freezer or ready market for fish caught. Most mousers also have a friend to talk to as they fish less than 10 feet apart and get bored on their own.

Method. Make a short strong (12lb+) leader of 2 to 5 foot and attach the mouse fly. Anoint Mouse fly with secret floatant, cast as far as you can. Allow line to sink to bottom, tighten to reel, put rod on ground, put heavy stone on rod, sit in comfortable chair or wander along the bank and talk to other mousers while waiting for loud ratchet on reel to alert you to a hooked trout. Lift rod, no need to strike as the trout will already be deep hooked and have no chance of escape. After landing fish, kill it. This is a must as the damage caused when unhooking from deep in the throat will cause the trout to die slowly anyway. Catch and release with this method is not an option although it is practiced after 14th October when all Brown trout must be returned to the water (even if mortally wounded). Pat yourself on the back for the skill you have shown in gut hooking a trout without even holding the rod. Clean the mouse and add more flavoured floatant. Cast out and repeat until you have caught you 8 fish limit.

Fishing the mouse is accepted as a legal method on Bristol Waters. A few years ago the season ticket holders who don't condone this type of fishing got together and asked that it be banned. They were not successful. Why not, a few reasons were given. A fly rod is used and the mouse itself is made of spun deer hair, it is not much different to fishing a static booby. The large number of trout caught boosts the rod caught average for the fishery, after all the trout are stocked to be caught. Sour grapes on part of more traditional anglers. After much pressure new rules were introduced to placate the majority of real fly fisherman. These were, mousing only allowed on one of the three reservoirs, rod must be in easy reach. These were openly flouted by the mousers so Bristol Water made the rules more rigorous. The rod must be held at all times and the mouse retrieved. You would expect that these new rules would mean the mousers are now actually fly fishing. Sadly that is not the case. The mouse is a "pop up" method, so retrieving it causes it to catch in the weed rendering it ineffective. As they mouse in groups they always see the ranger coming. The mousers retrieve only when they know they are being watched. They never seem to catch either when being watched.

The "secret home made floatant". It really does make a difference to the catch rate. I experimented with a friend. Casting the same distance less than six feet apart with the same rig and mouse pattern. He used the "secret floatant" and I used gink. He had five to my one. We then changed floatant only and I had four to his none. Conclusion, mousers use flavouring.

Mousing cannot be good for fly fishing. It has cost implications in that more trout have to be stocked due to the high number taken. Some anglers have voted with their feet and not renewed their season tickets as they consider they are sponsoring the mousers. Why, 1000 trout at 2 each to stock =2000. Season ticket 2012 435 loss to fishery/ profit on sold fish by mouser 1565 per mouser on average. Prices will have to rise. After saying that the main reason to ban mousing in my opinion is the use of flavouring and that it is simply not sporting.