Wednesday 9th January, 2008
A bit of a last minute POD today. If you are an early riser in the UK, I apologize.
In my opinion, every fly anger should keep a journal and record lessons learned, and fantastic experiences on the water. I've been keeping my journal since 1998. I read over entries from time to time, looking for secrets, remembering good times, or just trying to remember when/where/how to replicate something that I have done in the past, but have managed to forget. Some of my entries are very detailed, recording water temperatures, hatches, locations of prime lies, etc. Some are a bit more whimsical, depending on my state of mind at the time of writing.
This is an entry that falls somewhere in between the ends of the spectrum. I hope you enjoy it...
7/11 & 7/12, 2006 Missouri River, MT -- My work took me up north to Choteau for a couple of days. Fortunately, my route and schedule accommodated 2 evenings of fishing on the Mo near Wolf Creek. I spent both evenings fishing some good water between Wolf Creek and Holter Dam. I approached the river with a "Dry Fly or Die" mentality the first night. Quite a few fish were showing on the surface, but sporadic activity, combined with mysterious food items left me fishless most of the evening. My brief survey of the water surface revealed a mix of emerging and spent PMDs [pale morning duns], spent caddis, pseudos, tricos, midges, and a few ants and beetles. This is classic conditions that will challenge the most experienced angler. It's why I came to fish this river. In the end, I managed to fool a single 17" brown on a caddis emerger. The rest of the time was spent holding my fly in hand and looking for surface feeding fish or contemplating the trout visibly feeding on emerging PMD nymphs 2 inches under the surface. All my nymphs were back in the car. Dry or Die? Tonight it was Die.
Anticipation of my second night on the river filled my thoughts, making for a long day of work. I had a whole day to consider the feeding activity I'd witnessed last night. My theory - by this point in the summer, the fat and fussy trout of the Mo had abandoned chasing after emergent PMD duns on the surface in favor of somewhat stealthy nymphing within a few inches of the surface. I hedged my bets that the PMDs would hatch again this evening. I started nymphing along the bottom of some deeper flats before I even saw a PMD on the water, but the trout betrayed the onset of the hatch by readily eating a PMD nymph imitation that I've tied and used with excellent success over several summers on the Mo. Half a dozen trout of 16 inches or better took my nymphs before I saw any sign of the hatch. Four of them proved unlandable, streaking off downstream into the backing, my drag set light to protect the 5x tippets required in this heavily fished river. A thick bow and a beautiful brown came to hand. When the hatch got into full swing, he fish did their part and moved near the surface to feed. I found 8 more beautiful, big trout by dropping my PMD nymph only about 6 inches below a PMD Sparkle Dun and thoroughly covering the areas where I saw fish moving near the surface. Of the 8, I landed 6. Despite visible riseforms on the surface, I saw no heads to indicate fish feeding on duns. Not one fish moved to my sparkle dun. This was as real a hatch matching experience as I've witnessed, despite the fact that I never even hooked a fish on a dry fly. I loved every minute of it!
Next week, My Least Favorite Flies. Let's make it a theme week, shall we gents?
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