Lice are a Real Irritant

Lice are a Real Irritan

I have visited several stillwaters where, although the fish rise practically all day long, they have been virtually uncatchable. The fish make great slashing rises, often leaping clear of the water. What’s going on?
Peter Boyle

Peter Cockwill replies: There’s only one answer to this behaviour – it’s the effects of argulus, the fish louse. This nasty little parasite bites the fish and the fish in turn jumps clear of the water, trying to knock the lice off when they land back in. Infected trout often scratch their body on the lakebed in an attempt to dislodge the lice, which then leads to nasty skin bruising.

The fish also lose weight dramatically as they expend a lot of energy in trying to get rid of the lice, and become so stressed they won’t feed. That’s why fishing can be tough in summer and it’s a regular feature on a great many small fisheries.

You can certainly try to catch these fish using very small flies or dries, but it’s not easy. Please don’t blame the fishery as there is very little they can do other than stock with fish treated with SLICE (a medication added to trout feed) which does help the situation.

Reprinted with permission of Trout Fisherman magazine.