Innocent people get hurt when over zealous 'fans' turn to terrorising their heroes/victims with the misguided idea of gaining their total attention. While such actions in the human arena are completely unacceptable, stalking within a trout's territory must be seen as a highly successful way of catching fish. This is 'sight fishing' in its finest form and it's completely different from a random searching of the depths in the hope of eventually connecting with a fish.

Stalking a rising trout is perhaps the most satisfying of all types of fishing. You see a flicker of aquatic movement, you mentally mark its position and if you are not in firing range, you creep up on it and, hopefully, you catch a trout unawares! It's normally thought this type of angling is associated with working a dry fly, however this is not strictly true. It can be more precisely described as striking `while the iron is hot' or `the trout is in view'. To do this with consistent success it is essential you suss out the principal feeding areas for the brownies prior to starting fishing.

Trout will always lie next to food and shelter, consequently they are not likely to be found in the cold, sterile, unproductive deeps or near areas of considerable exposure where they are vulnerable to predators. Instead you should seek trout where the shallows begin to deepen aside of weed beds, boulders, promontories, reefs/drop-offs, backwaters and pots, necks and tails of pools, indeed all manner of shady nooks. These areas provide enough shelter for the fish while acting as a micro habitat for all the good things that trout like to eat including (amongst the multitude!) shrimp, snail, nymphs and caddis. Basically anything that breaks up the uniformity of the water, whether it's in a river or a stillwater, has got to be considered as a likely feeding area/hidey hole for trout. These then are the places you should be prepared to stalk.

Having narrowed the odds by sussing out likely trout hot spots, the next thing is to try and detect if a trout is actually there. Rise forms can be something of an art form to read well but in stillwaters anything which appears to move in the opposite direction to the wave could in theory be a trout. Fishy disturbances range from a full acrobatic leap to a barely perceptible swirl and from a dark back or fin breaking the surface to little more than a sudden shimmer and apparent flattening of the water. As surface feeding stillwater trout are normally swimming, or at least holding station facing into the wind, any movement which appears abnormal is a give-away. However it does take practise to be able to see trout which only mildly disturb the water, don't expect instant success and in high winds it's still a bit of a gamble. If the lake water is clear, just occasionally you will sight an underwater flash of gold or silver, however this is more likely to happen when stream fishing.

River trouting requires just as much ability to recce likely good trout lies prior to stalking, some stream anglers argue it's a more skilful pursuit than loch/lake angling but, having many years hard won experience in both, I think it's about equal! As with loch trout, river fish like to consume the maximum amount of food while expending as little of their energy as possible. Thus they will tend to hedge their bets around little concentrations of food as it is washed down on the current. In spotting trout it's best to start concealed and high of the water (like standing on a bridge or a raised bank) when you will see anything from a quicksilver shadow to a wink of gold, NB polaroid's are a must! Standing low and looking upstream is also good if a lofty perch is not an option. Rise forms which disturb the flow of water may involve a ring, a splash, a swirl or just the lightest of sips. As in lochs, it will be an unusual movement that catches the eye.

Whichever your chosen venue, once a trout is spotted, the next task is to get yourself into a position to stalk but not spook him. In stillwater angling this may involve a shimmy along the bank to cover the rise, or a quiet wade in or out to present the fly effectively. If you can execute a snake roll cast while wading this is extremely useful as it means you can reposition your fly quickly with the minimum of water disturbance. Resist the temptation to rush it, trout sense vibration in the water if you are clumsy or heavy footed. Equally if your shadow suddenly falls across the rise altering the light intensity, you will scare away all but the most daft of trout. Remember the trout is rising in a particular territory for a reason (channelled food supply like nymph, midge or sedge or ease of access to shelter) and is not going to move much unless you frighten him off. If you fail to make contact try a different angle of approach. Go past the rise and cast back over it or go a little upwind in case it's a travelling feeding fish. In wild trout loch angling the best fly presentation is often slightly across the wind rather than with the wind directly behind. This draws the whole outline of the fly across the fishes nose better than just throwing him the hook end.

Stalking trout in rivers follows a similar `no scare' canny approach, however you can also use the current to your advantage. The flow of the stream gives you more options in that you can creep up from behind and cast a dry fly ahead of the trout to drift down on its nose. Alternatively you can use the across and down approach with a wet fly, working a nymph or traditional gently down to the waiting trout. Keeping out of the trout's eye line is essential as is a natural presentation of the fly. Avoid 'lining' the trout by over casting and train yourself to read distances so you hit close to the target first time (not always easy in the heat of the moment). The more recasting you do, the more chances there are of spooking the fish.

Whether you stalk trout in stillwater or in flowing, it's got to be one of the most thrilling ways of catching fish. So compelling is it that once you have caught trout this way you may never want to return to plumbing the depths.