How many times have you seen anglers pile into the bar afterwards muttering things like "Oh it was far too - bright - windy - calm - hot - cold" (insert appropriate words and others unprintable!)

Of course this may be a deliberate ploy to cover up shortcomings, after all what goes on above our heads is an easily blamed scapegoat, however niggling questions remain over the importance of the weather. With so many of us blaming this external factor for any lack of angling achievement, a mass of half truths and misinformation has grown up around conditions suitable for catching trout. Let's take a brief look at what's true, what might be and what's not

First the factual, for undoubtedly the climate plays a crucial role in regulating trout survival rates. Right from birth, trout nurtured in a wild setting are extraordinarily dependent on the weathers' ups and downs. Young trout are particularly vulnerable to spates, frosts and droughts and have to adapt quickly or die in these conditions. Then as the trout mature, they become ever more acutely tuned into the weather as it constantly affects food availability and the degree of shelter the fish can maintain.

For example as the water begins to warm after a long winter so the food supply becomes more active. Snails, caddis, shrimps, beetles, larvae and nymphs all respond to the suns rays. Hatches of winged insects begin and with the appearance of a broader based menu, trout activity correspondingly increases.

Unfortunately but for obvious reasons, anglers reactions to the weather can never be as precise as fish. We are simply not living in the trout's environment and therefore can never react to alterations in the weather as quickly as our quarry. Angling success or failure is often to do with our response (or lack of it) to a change in the conditions. Sadly, instead of fishy fine tuning we have to rely on a mix of old wives tales and past experiences to help us through the day. Though it's never absolutely factual some folklore is on the useful side with sayings like:

`Sun before seven, rain before eleven'- This is normally true for the first half of the season and this saying has similar implications to `Red sky in morn shepherd forlorn'.

`Gusts of wind before the rain' - This saying is also pretty precise, especially if the wind rises a sudden sharp blast during a spell of relatively quiet dull weather.

`Mackerel skies spell change' - Usually a very accurate indication of an imminent alteration in the conditions e.g. from fine clear weather to wind and rain.

`Low flying swallows portend rain' - Not always true, but any birds flying low over the water are a good fishing sign as they are busy consuming a hatch of insects and fish should be doing the same.

A settled spell will bode us well' - Almost always accurate, settled conditions give good fishing.

This handful of relatively helpful old wives tales will give a rough forecast on how your fishing day is likely to go but anglers past experiences are also a reasonable indicator. It's interesting to see the older generation of anglers making fishing predictions by observing barometric pressure. Rising pressure i.e. an approaching `high' is normally more productive than falling pressure i.e. a `low' but then again trout can be taken in most conditions providing their watery world appears uniform.

If the weather is settled and by that I mean settled into any pattern from a `cool east wind and sunshine' to `dull grey mirky days' to `NW gales and rain' then the angling should be productive. - Trout rise best in weather which is set into a particular pattern. What they don't like are sudden dramatic changes in pressure. Swinging alterations in temperature for example; late frosts are a particular nightmare. Unexpected cold snaps kill off the emerging summer food supply and push things momentarily back into winter.

Following folklore and remembering to check the barometer are helpful in planning your attack. Where anglers sometimes fall down is in believing sweeping declarations about the `best' or `worst' weather for trout angling. While it is true that better angling usually occurs when it is mild, breezy and overcast perhaps with the odd brief shower of rain to bring on a hatch, fish do not live by any hard and fast rules. Trout will also take during slicing east and north gales, in thunderstorms, brilliant sunshine, snowstorms, flat calms and occasionally even in thick mist. The latter conditions are not exactly the best for wild trout angling but then again they are not impossible. Catches may be lighter but you should not be deterred from trying as trout are always wonderfully unpredictable. It is unfortunate that some anglers have the habit of highlighting the most negative aspects of the prevailing conditions, almost to make excuses before they have begun.

Bear in mind the UK weather is known for its enormous variation. A remarkable cross section of conditions can happen in the space of a few hours. Hail, wind, sun and flat calm have beset most of us, often within a single mornings angling! The important thing to take into account is that just as the weather can deteriorate, it can improve again very rapidly. Remember to inspect the barometer over the TV forecast, quote a few old sayings and try and anticipate what the trout are feeding on. If all else fails you can always blame it all on you know what!