Survivor Trout

Sometimes you catch fish with such amazing coloration that you can’t help but stare slack-jawed at their beauty. Other fish achieve the same effect with their awesome battle scars. When we’re on the river fly fishing, it’s important to remember we aren’t the only predators fish are actively avoiding. More likely, they’re looking up and running for cover at the sign of one of the many predatory birds that own Montana’s airways. This diving doom is the real reason that fish spook from one too many false casts and your big old shadow as you splash into the run: assault from above most times spells certain death for our one-neuron-away-from-frog-brained friends. 

The scars on the gill plate of this Bitterroot resident show the realities of life for trout:
Eagles of Death Metal come from above, and usually win.
When an eagle, osprey or other aerial predator keys in on an unsuspecting trout, the fish usually loses. Talons take out chunks of meat and suddenly the happy rainbow is transported to a lovely spot to be munched. I always love when we find the survivors of these attacks back in the river and doing their thing. In nature, it’s eat or be eaten. 
Talons. Talons everywhere. The chunk of meat missing from this trout’s head didn’t slow it down from it’s next meal.  

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