It rained here this afternoon. The drops hit my windshield approximately one block from my home, on the return journey. That should give a good clue re the weather... it was a monster of a ridiculously nice day. Talking 40s F with little breeze and partly cloudy skies. A March fishing day in late January. Here's the quick tale then:
The inviting climate did indeed bring a number of folks out, and I ran into a few as I worked my way up a particular basin here in the Godly Driftless Area of SE MN. I leapfrogged those asses and parked... then hiked in approx 10 minutes to find a lot of water capped by ice. Meaning more hiking while undeciding whether or not I should turn back... quite a quandry: every step I took was a potential two steps of time lost if I didn't eventually get to some decent and open water. An hour or so in and I'd barely cast a baker's dooozen times and I hadn't met one single fish... but what usually happens happened: the fish came and saved the day, seemingly in the nick of time.
Situation one: long-corner-holio.
I am sucker for pools and I tend to focus on them too much... I'd never been on this stretch and I found that there weren't many really great "pools" to deal with. I did find this kind of drawn out corner hole though... and gave pause to flip a few casts to and fro. In the span of 12 minutes my fish count went from 0 to 7. One of the seven was the day's token rainbow. All fish were taken on a tandem nymph rig, with a water worm pattern leading a PS #18. I was happy to see approx equal takes for both flies. No biggie fish though.
Situation two: the slicks.
In my pack I had an apple, a Ball jar full of my granola recipe, and a thermos of coffee. I came upon a slick of water and proceeded to pour up some steaming healing potion... as I chewed away I perceived a number of fish dimpling the water. Summofabich I thought. This happens often - I see things that I should try to address, but I skip the whole deal and stick to what works: nymphing the living-freaking-daylights out of everything. Summofabeech, should I try a dry fly?, I asked. Finally I said YES MAN and I pulled out a Griffith's gnat #20 - one of a trio I had tied up in the hopes that they'd encourage me to try something half-way new. I flailed those MFs about - felt good actually to cast as casting was meant to be... but I couldn't get a strike. Then I asked meself: how do you fish dry flies without fishing dry flies? Answer is that you fish soft hackles. So I did that. I put on the deadly-lethal-killa version of the soft hackle in fact. I offered it upstream and immediately got a fish. Then, to make matters worse for that pod of pisces, I sneaked my ass upstream and swung it down to them in deadly fashion... pretty much caught every fish that was rising. If you know John Montana you know the fly, and it is instantaneous CAUGHT MF to any fish who sees it. Man did it feel good to try something different and have it work out. I stuck with that for most of the remains of the day, and had success all through.
I'm telling you - if you want to be 100% pure, go ahead and use the dry fly. If you want to not worry about matching a hatch perfectly and catch every fish that is rising, use a soft hackle of the same size as the bugs that are coming off. Swing it downstream and keep it in the water just a bit longer than you think you should at the end of the swing... the fish will pummel it as it rises up to the surface. Hell, you don't even have to do anything if you don't want to... they'll hook themselves in the right corner of the mouth almost every time. If you are stripping it back, you will probably get them right in the nose.
I never did land any slabbers, and I believe that that has something to do with the fact that I was fishing to those risers and not dredging the depths of pools and eerie, deep lies of big fish. I picked up ~4 fish in the 11-13" range though - plenty big and still as stunning as ever... the fish are the fish and that says a lot. To pick up a rod and feel weight, and then to smile as the thrub, thrub thrubbing commences... and then to cradle, admire and release.
The fly I was using today was a variant on John Montana's original. I can't rename his fly. Therefore I hereby name a particular line of flies: The AFD Crew. That AFD bit is like Adrian Peterson - it is an acronym for "All Day" with a word of emphasis added in the middle. AFD, I'm telling you AFD.
Price of my house then, if I were to put it on the market tomorrow?: One billion dollars me boy. Not a penny less. We live 30 minutes from heaven on Earth, and we hain't movin' any time soon.