I think everyone "knows" that a pair of polarizing spectacles will aid in spotting fish in the water. Certainly hack angling writers have written enough articles about the subject.
I have always taken that received wisdom with a pinch of salt. Why ? ...... because I personally, during a long fishing life, have always picked up fish in the water pretty well, and on the odd occasion when a companion has suggested I try his Polaroids, have found they made little or no difference. So, I rarely spoke about this, as everyone else told me I was wrong - I knew I was right, but kept my own counsel.
Now, had I snuffed it in my seventies, The secret would have died with me. But here I am, having lived long enough to develop cataracts in both eyes. Last November I had the cataract (the more serious of the two ) in my right eye removed and a plastic lens substituted, I am still waiting for the other eye to be fixed.
So far, so good. One of the first things I noticed was the brilliance of the colours seen through my new lens - especially at the blue end of the spectrum. Looking at hazy blue sky and closing my right eye , the cataract-affected left eye is telling me the sky is a wish-washy dull yellowish drab. Shut the left eye and observe the sky with my "new" plastic-lensed right eye, and lo and behold the sky is definitely blue. I could hardly get over this novelty, and now observe most things by closing one eye or the other and observing the changes in colour and intensity. OK, easily explained by the cloudiness (and possible pigmentation) of the cataracts.and no great discovery.
Now the spooky bit. The sun was shining the other morning, and we had half-opened a window, so the sun was caching it at an angle, causing a glint - something I had barely noticed before. Shut one eye, then open it and shut the other - yes, big difference, I could see the garden clearly through the angled glass with my left eye (and developing cataract) but with my right eye and its fancy lens, all I could see was a reflection of the early morning sun. A visit to a body of water confirmed the same holds good for a water surface.
So, what is the explanation ? Bearing in mind polarization is a uni-directional thing - like the slats in a Venetian blind ie two polarizing filters one behind the other can be rotated with respect to each other so as to bring the "mini-slats" at mutual right angles and extinguish all light - Geologists of my generation used a polarising microscope with a rotating polar filter to identify rock minerals - some of which show polarity and some not. So postulating that I carry a polarising gene is a bit far fetched. Perhaps because I spent so much time stalking trout in my youth the cause is nurture rather than nature. Either way, once my second cataract is removed and a plastic lens substituted, then my ability to spot fish in the water will be diminished. I will have to join the rest of the human race and buy a pair of polarising specs !
Comments from anyone familiar with the biophysics of polarised light would be useful
NB My spell checker objected to "polarising" with an "s", - insisting on the American "z" - until I got fed up and ignored it.