• Kingfisher with bullhead
  • Kingfisher
  • Wildlife videography setup

Trout and Kingfisher – Fly fishing with Jonas

Is there a critical relation between trout and kingfisher?

Old Friends

It has been a while since the last time I met Jonas. Due to Corona and other objectives, our schedule did not allow for any physical visits. Nonetheless, we kept in touch because we share manifold interests in photography, filmmaking, wildlife, and fishing. So, there is always an abundance of topics to talk about.

Jonas on the Fly
Jonas on the Fly

Trout and Kingfisher

Even though Jonas lives closer to our fishing destination than me, he preferred to sleep a little longer. In contrast, I decided to head out at the crack of dawn to visit the kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), which I have recently observed at this creek. During the previous couple of visits, I was not able to take a proper picture – leave alone any footage.

The following picture was taken at the Naturstation Silberweide last year and I used it in this post too:

Male Kingfisher (
Male Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

 

Kingfisher

To describe this bird as blue and orange does not do justice to their mind-boggling appearance. In particular the range of blues is quite astonishing. They vary from azure to cobalt and are often referred to as electric. In certain light conditions, their feathers even appear green or teal-like Many people recognise a kingfisher (Eisvogel (=ice bird) in German), even without any knowledge about ornithology. However, its respectable status as flagship species for conservation in Switzerland was not always the case. For instance, in the 19th century kingfishers were described as “enemies of fishpond management” and subsequently traps were used to eradicate them [Matzinger 2017: 114].

Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

Hide…

Arriving at the creek by 6am, I set up my hide. Instead of sitting like last time, I opted to lay in some nettles to obscure my silhouette. This proved to be beneficial for the observation and given my fishing attire I was not stung by them. During the following motionless 3 hours session, I witnessed the kingfisher four times of which I was able to capture it on 3 occasions. I was even able to capture the kingfisher with a bullhead in its bill. The Leofoto PG-1 gimbal head worked a treat and allowed me to adjust the camera angle swiftly. As a takeaway for the next hide, I should go to the loo before hiding and plugin the external battery right from the start.

Snapshot from video about kingfisher
Snapshot from video about kingfisher (this is a female)
Leofoto LM-364C with PG-1 Gimbal Head
Leofoto LM-364C with PG-1 Gimbal Head

and Seek

By 9am Jonas arrived, and we started the day by extensive talks about photography gear and projects. Given that Jonas has not been fly fishing for almost 2 years, the primary objective was to get him hooked again. Therefore, I let him go first until he caught a trout. Despite the absence to fly fishing, his casting skills were on point. Yet, the fish were not quite at ease perhaps because of too many fishermen present. Talking to a local, he pointed out that it might have also to do with the plentiful herons. However, this appears to me like the same narrative as with kingfishers as “enemies of fishery management”.

Fly fishing small creeks in Switzerland for trout
Fly fishing small creeks in Switzerland for trout

Having lunch by the river, we observed some rising fish. Arguing about the fly choice, it was not until the third pattern (dark caddis #14) that he managed to land a fish. Well done!

Brown trout underwater caught on a small dark caddis imitation
Brown trout underwater caught on a small dark caddis imitation

Trout and Kingfisher Relation

Catching up with Jonas on projects, gear and fishing was great. Finally being able to pull off some pictures and footage from the kingfisher family, was a highlight to me. Also to play around with Jonas’ underwater photography equipment was a first and very interesting. I am looking forward to taking on new projects with you mate!

Concerning the relation between trout and kingfisher, I think that kingfishers do not pose a threat to trout populations given their vulnerability. Furthermore, as far as I have seen, they primarily target bullheads rather than trout fry. Additionally, kingfishers are generally a good indicator for anglers, where to find larger fish. They tend to breed in steep banks that have a deep pool beneath. Observing that most smaller fish omit such places, I found that there were rather large trout inhabiting these pools. So, use them to your advantage.

What do you think?

I think that habitat of kingfisher attracts larger fish and forces them to grow quickly
I think that habitat of kingfisher attracts larger fish and forces them to grow quickly

Further Reading:

  • Matzinger, Heiner: Der letzte Lachs am Rheinfall: Lachsfischerei am Hochrhein im Zeitalter der Industrialisierung. Schaffhausen 2017.
  • Reynolds, Julian; Souty-Grosset, Catherine: Management of Freshwater Biodiversity: Crayfish as Bioindicators. Cambridge 2011.
  • Chandler, David: RSBP Kingfisher Spotlight. London 2017.

2 Responses

    • Tom

      Hi Cris
      thanks for you comment, appeciate it.
      Have a good day and tight lines!
      Tom

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