A dry fly fisherman looks for spider webs and spinner carcases
It’s 2:30 in the afternoon. There isn’t a fly on the water nor a rise to be found on the river. The sun’s shining over the light chocolate water caused by the rain storm a couple of days ago. The visibility is about two feet along the shallows but only to distinguish rocks, boulders or sunken logs. Over Memorial Day weekend there was a prolific Brown Drake hatch that covered the river. On Monday spinner fall was found on dry rock tops and sandy banks. A rainstorm during the week had washed all that remained away. The river today is receding and starting to clear up some.
Times like these gets me to wonder just how smart or dumb trout might be. The main purpose of a trout is to stay alive as all creatures on this earth. I know trout can be finicky when it comes to food sources. I’ve seen and fished for them too many times and discredit those “dumb trout” thoughts.
How does a trout know a hatch is coming on or more importantly, to me, how does it know how long, in days, it is going to last? When it begins I can assume there is a lot of activity of emergers and nymph below the surface. I’m sure the trout will eat till the hatch is over or into the night. Does the trout know if the hatch will begin again the next day or evening?
After the Drake hatch last week a rain storm hit and washed everything away. The water is now clearing and I figure the trout are hungry. Though there is not a bug on the water. Will the trout know whether the Brown Drake hatch ended? Just maybe they’ll take a lone one drifting their way.
I knotted on a # 10 Brown Drake pattern to my 5x tippet. I doused the 4x long body with dry fly juice and rubbed some on the hackle and wing. I splay the tail of moose body hair and pulled line off the reel. With a long forward cast my 12 foot long leader/tippet looped through the air and dropped my pattern outward onto a very slow current just out from the bank.
The first trout to take my imitation was with a very noticeable swirling splash. I reared back the Vapor rod and the fish splashed before going deep. I let him wrestle with my line some in the shallows before I decided to bring him towards me. It wasn’t long before I had my first brown trout in my grasp. Within 25 minutes I landed 2 more browns, and than a brook trout came to hand.
This is the way it would go for the next 3 hours plus. One trout after another took my Brown Drake pattern and I even completed the trifecta with a rainbow.
Sometimes I’d just see the slightest swirl, at my dry, as if sipping a spinner. Other times one would porpoise at the drifting imitation or attack it as if they thought it was going to take flight. Once two fish rose with aggression for it and almost butted heads atop the water. I hooked one and after the release the other took the Drake on the very next cast with no competition. I always had to be ready. At times a trout would grab the dry as soon as it hit the water and other times I had to be patient, watching the imitation slowly drift on the slowest of current.
While I fished there were two caddis hatches that lasted all of about 10 minutes each. The caddis would do their dive and rise tease but very few rested on the surface for very long. During these hatches a few trout would rise to them but I kept with my Drake pattern and continued to catch trout after trout.
I never had to move outside a 12 foot square the complete time I was casting to trout. The 9’ fast action Vapor rod shot the weight forward Sage line, 12’ leader/tippet and fly to the location I wanted. It was guess work, not seeing the trout, but I knew they were there and they were hungry and I made them rise!
I used a total of 5 Brown Drakes, all the same pattern pretty much. Two broke off. One playing a trout that got wrapped around an underwater branch and after I tied anther on I must have had dry fly juice on my fingers when completing the knot. Two trout later the hook let loose and the tippet returned with a curl. Two other imitations got so tattered from the trout that they failed to look like anything that would fly let alone edible.
Now and again I would look around to see if anyone was watching. The water was cloudy, as I mentioned, so there were no canoes or kayakers on the water. Just me, fishing and smoking my cigars.
There’s a time to call it quits, but when? Usually it’s when the fish stop rising to the diminishing hatch. The thing is, it was I that was making them rise in the first place and there seemed to be a good supply of hungry trout. Maybe, just maybe I’d call it quits if I caught “the big one!”
My cast was down a bit from where I was catching most of the trout in a seemingly deeper drop with a slower, almost non-existing current. I let go a single haul and the Drake hit the water seconds after my fly line did some 12 feet away. It sort of glided down and the bushy deer hair was all I could see upon the shaded surface. The take was subtle as if the trout knew there was no urgency. I saw the swirl and brought back the long length of line like any other hook set. There was an immediate surface disturbance and then the line took off towards the shallow shoreline. I had to let the line out due to the force of the escape. He turned away from the grassy bank and headed down and across below me. I tried to force him towards me but he was more powerful than I expected. The rod arced stiffly as the fish took me into the deeper, stronger current that was to my back the whole time. He pulled and tugged in the current and I had to let him tire out. When he started to swim upriver I angled the rod down stream. He made a sudden jolt away and then swam down stream with the current. I began to think “this is the big one”. The sun penetrated the water and he raised enough I could see his long girthy body. I wished I had a net!
We tussled a good bit longer as he fought down river from me but I slowly was getting him closer. He was pretty much giving up when I reached for him. He gave me one of those quick forceful tail swats and tried pulling away. The rod flexed downward and turned him back towards me. After a couple of misses I finally got the fat boy in my hand. He wasn’t very happy and kept fidgeting as I tried to get the hook out of the corner of his mouth. Once unhooked I got a quick photo before he squirted out of my hand safely.
I decided to fish a little more before calling it quits. I returned to the open water above the fast current but failed to make any trout rise. I looked around and seeing no rises headed up to the van.
I drove down the road to a more open parking area and changed into street clothes while quenching my taste buds with a Bud Black Crown. It was near 6:00pm by now so I took the long way home and followed River Road to route 36.….with a Brickhouse Short Torp pleasing my lips!
It turned out to be way more productive than I ever imagined. I wonder how many fly fishermen, not seeing a trout rise or bug on the water, would have ever attempted to use a dry fly.
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