I’ve talked about this subject before because I enjoy it! When fish go into their spawning season they change color and the results can be some amazing photographs. I caught this beautiful Rainbow Trout over the weekend and I just couldn’t stop looking at all the colors it had. The dark red gill plate, the speckled back and the pumpkin belly just made my day. I used the Nikon Z6II and 24-120 Z f/4 at F/4 to focus just on the eye and blur out the rest of the fish to highlight the color but not all the detail of the rest of the fish. It’s days like this that make me want to stay on the water.
I keep trying to find new and fun ways to show the same thing and frankly, it gets to be kind of hard. There are a number of names for this kind of shot, the fin, and grin, the trophy shot, the specimen, etc. It’s an important photo because at the end of the day when you’re out on the water you’re trying to catch a fish and thus want to showcase it later on. What’s important to remember is how to highlight what makes each specimen unique. This one was a big baddie so I wanted more attitude and to achieve that I got low, used the pop-up screen on the Z50, and went wide with the 18-35. It’s a very simple technique to make a subject look bigger with more attitude.
I started flyfishing in the winter many years ago because one of my friends thought it was a good idea. It was really cold, the eyes on our rods would freeze, if you got wet it could lead to frostbite and we didn’t always catch something. Despite all that, it turns out he was right. Winter fishing has become one of the things I look forward to the most out of the year because the trout that we do catch has some of the most vibrant colors I’ve ever seen. Rainbow Trout move out of lakes and up the river to their spawning grounds and during that time the males mainly turn the most vibrant colors. Females can also get good colors but nothing like the males. Just one of these beauties makes the whole day worthwhile.
As anyone who follows my blog will have noticed by now, I tend to fish a lot and I like taking the Nikon Z50 mirrorless with me when I do. Both of these images were taken with the Z50 due to the ease and convenience of getting the camera out of the bag and able to shoot quickly. That’s important with aquatic species especially in winter when it’s colder. Thankfully yesterday was nice and warm so I wasn’t as worried.
Winter is a really cool time to fish for Rainbow Trout as they are moving upstream towards the clear water of mountain streams to spawn in the Spring. They will continue to make this journey until they reach the stream where they were born. It’s a unique characteristic of Rainbow Trout as not all trout do this. Another unique trait of Rainbows is the changing colors of the males throughout the spawning cycle, granted the top image is of a female. They will go from the more typical “Chrome” to “Rainbow” look to the eventual dark phase and then back to the rainbow look after spawn has been completed. The variation and duration of the colors vary from individual to individual which makes winter fishing a lot of fun.
Well it isn’t a fall brown but it certainly was one beautiful Rainbow. He hammered the white streamer during the afternoon bite and was kind enough to pose for a couple of shots. The one key I’ve found to this arena is to use flash. There are so many people who hate using flash but at the end of the day it is a great tool to know how to use. Flash is what made that color pop and without it would have been bland.
Images captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 f/2.8 on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
Winter is one of my favorite times to be using the flyrod because the fishing can be amazing. Rainbow Trout spawn in the spring and as they move up the river they become more aggressive. Males can grow large Kype’s on their lower jaw but this one takes the cake. I haven’t seen such a kype in such a small fish before but those little details certainly make for interesting individuals to work with.
Images Captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, SB-5000, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
Since it’s not always possible to have the camera in hand all the time, today’s the day to start planning this weekends shooting fun. Two days are never enough but at least it’s time behind the lens. Now whatever your field maybe, be sure to spend some time and do your homework today so that you’re prepared for the next day. Before I head out I always look into the area, the weather and what’s happening so that I stack the deck the best I can to get the best photos possible. Does this always pan out? No. But it doesn’t hurt either.
Images Captured with Nikon D750, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
While one of the most recognized fish species in the world, Rainbow Trout are actually non native species to the state of Montana. There is one sub species that is native and that’s the Redband Rainbow. Today’s species was introduced somewhere in the 1800’s from one of the west coast states. Despite that it has become a staple of today’s angler and for good reason.
Rainbow’s are not only pretty, touting their unique color configurations about, but they are also amazing fighters. They jump, spin, run and fight like crazy which make them fun to catch. But like all species they are fragile and right now we are going into the spring spawn which makes certain areas very fragile to human impact. Some spots are point blank closed to fishing but that doesn’t always stop people. Trout lay their eggs in reds which look like nothing more then dimples in the river bed, but underneath the layer of protective dirt are the eggs. They aren’t visible which make them easy to be damaged. The ethics for photographers that want to photograph these areas are just as important as the anglers. If we want these species to persist then we have to be careful how and where we capture these images. Read the rules and regulations first. If you’re going to photograph a spot be sure you don’t enter the water. Stay on the bank. Be careful and respectful.
Image Captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
Another winter has come and gone making way for Spring. The snow will be melting and the short, cold days will be replaced with long warm evenings. What does this mean for photography? Well the frosty mornings will be swapped out for even earlier sunrises, beautiful green landscapes, nesting birds and of course spring fishing.
My friend Dan holds up the last of the spawning Rainbows, soon to be on the reds to make future years of rainbows. This was a quick click with the D5, 24-70 AF-S and SB-5000. The changing of the season affects everything including photography. If you’re thinking subjects to photograph this spring make sure to do your homework now before April gets here.
I’ve received some very nice compliments over the last year when it comes to my fishing photography and I can honestly say that I truly enjoy it. It has been a great learning process between working with aquatic species, portraiture, flash technique and time management. That’s the great thing about photography is there is always something to learn as long as you find a fun way to learn how to apply it and for each person that will be something different.
I’ve done a lot of fishing this year and I can’t to do some more. The great thing about going out with friends is it’s so much easier to get good photographs. My friend Al hooked these two beauties and naturally I had to spend some time with them. This time around I tried something different and used the 18-35mm instead of my 24-70 AF-S f/2.8. I’ve had the 18-35 since March and it is just a really great lens! It’s wicked sharp and has a great focal range. What really makes the difference in the end is the flash. To truly bring out the color of each fish you need that pop of light. Flash is also important when it comes to the portraiture because it helps to remove the shadow caused by hats. Thanks to camera functions like E4 in the custom shooting menu, flash has gotten much easier and more enjoyable.