Of the last three nights, it was clear that Tuesday would be special…and it was. A gentle 70-degree day turned windless evening with a good temperature drop and two hours of big rising trout. Kyle and I found an open spot, walked to the river under a cloud of bouncing drakes, and were immediately on fish. I mean…immediately. I went downstream as he worked the first riser. My beat was a fast turn with a deep inside cut and an even deeper far backwater. A strong current bisected the pool. The drake spinners swarmed over the far backwater and two trout, one big and one enormous, began to roam the dead water eating about one drake every two minutes…and there were a lot of drakes. That enormous trout was something special. His rise was contained and proper, but it failed to disguise what the water did: he was huge. He casually rose up and down the backwater and when he moved upstream that smaller fish quit rising completely. I waited like a good hunter, throwing two pretty good (in my estimation) casts, and the trout rose less, and less, until finally he quit rising all together. Full.
But, while waiting on the enormous trout, new trout kept showing up on the deep inside run, rising explosively and I caught them almost as an afterthought on short upstream casts. They were all fine trout, and fought with the high water energy of spring, 2019. It wasn’t until I went upstream to take this picture of Kyle that I realized we’d both had an awesome night, enormous trout be damned, all without moving more than a dozen yards from our original positions.
An early evening fatty
That made this morning a true pleasure in the fly shop. It seemed that most people had good fishing, some had great fishing, and a few had the best night of their lives. We have been short on such mornings this year.
Monday and tonight, Wednesday, the conditions were all sorts of wrong and yet there were bugs and trout. Tonight, while searching for a lost net, I arrived at the river at the tail-end of the spinners and found a little action. Monday was windy and cold and still the spinners flew. The point is, it’s brown drakes. They will last for another week or more. They will mix with the Isonychia, the march browns, the Borchers, the stones, the sulphurs. Anything can happen this week. So while the rivers are high and dark, and while the conditions are for more cold and rain, and while I encourage calls for up-to-the-minute river level reports (more so than relying on way-downstream gauge checks), remember this: it’s drakes. They can hatch at midnight or noon. They can be fished blind at any time of the day. They will spin in a thunderstorm, or in a breeze. They will drive you batty as you try to put yourself in the right place and time. And that can be almost any place, at almost any time. Success is sweet, as noted below, obtained secondhand:
Right now all the rivers are stained and, I’m sure, staining more. The South Branch, so far, has held its water the best. For awhile the North, Main, and Manistee were very dirty, but were clearing until this latest storm. It is supposed to keep raining (lightly(?)) tonight and tomorrow morning, and the forecast is unstable. As I write this, all three branches are in fair wading shape. If on foot, the best way to fish right now is to find a good run, and set up camp. For some this a cigar. Others, a cold drink. It’s a good time to do some reading. Bring your bugspray and maybe a trusted friend. But don’t underestimate what a big bug can make a trout do, even in dirty water.
Demo Days: Rio Line Test Cast (and some Fishpond too!), this Saturday, June 15
Bring your rods and find the perfect Rio Line to pair with them. Herb will be sitting in for Ben Hunting and he’ll have dozens of reels all lined up and ready for you test run. Don’t undervalue the importance of having the right line for your fly rod. Fast rods can be slowed down for night work. Slow rods can be sped up for long casts. It comes down to taper and weight. We’ll also be running specials on Fishpond gear. They have some excellent pack options, including fully submersible packs and bags. See you there.
Orvis Rod Swap expires…This Saturday
Bring in any old working order fly rod and take 20% off a brand new Orvis fly rod: Helios 3, Recon, Superfine. This is your last chance to cash in. Knock the cobwebs off those old tomato stakes in the basement and bring them in.