Monday, April 26, 2010

And then this happened...

Just cracked a Hamm’s can, sitting here now trying to find a minute to write a bit on some pretty remarkable time on the water. 10:30 at night and I guess over the past couple hours I planted some potatoes (late) and pan fried a bunch of brown trout and then flaked the flesh off for a meal to be prepared tomorrow. And lopped off a couple big rhubarb stalks. Boobarb as called by one of our sons. Been more than a week since this fishing went down… here is a word on it:

Some things are good because they are difficult. More difficult is better because it can prompt you to study something and learn something. That’s my angle anyway. On this particular day I started out with an eye toward a gray caddis hatch… but I was really eager and I got on the stream at dawn’s crack or thereabouts. I decided to fish my way down with a streamer, and then turn around and meet the caddis coming back. I did that and caught some fish on my way downstream. Nothing too remarkable. I had it in my mind to strap on an EHC at 10 AM and leave it on for the remainder of the day. I did that. I fished and I fished and man was it interesting.

(1) First started seeing adults here and there… and drawing hits on the EHC right around 10 AM. Caught some fish.

(2) I came to a great corner hole that was showing rises everywhere. It was getting pretty aggressive there on the water and my interest was peaking. I stood at the tail of the pool and put that EHC on fish repeatedly… and the SOBs would not eat it. Perfect dead drifts were not eaten. I watched and watched and changed flies to smaller/darker… tried soft hackles… they would not eat it. I got my clock cleaned for an hour but as you might guess it was actually pretty interesting. Got me thinking and got me studying. I tried skittering the fly and that drew a few hits. Nothing consistent though. Geez. Stonewalled and it was great. Then I turned my attention to the head of the pool and I saw some fish holding in faster, broken water – right where it tumbled from riffle down into pool. I could barely make them out. I took the fly and high-sticked it right over them… and watched one nice brown key in on the fly… swagger up and eat it on first drift. Proceeded to catch a few more. Turns out those fish were cool with the adult EHC dead drifted. I think they couldn’t see as well and were pretty much good with whatever came by. The fish in the pool’s tail were watching caddis in the air and they didn’t want a dead drifted fly. Anyway, very puzzling puzzle that was worth every minute I spent there.

(3) After I left those fish, it became pretty easy: find any moderately broken water and put the EHC on the fish rising in it. Eaten. Every time. Not sure how many fish I caught but I figure I stood in maybe 6-7 different locations and caught 6-7 fish from each stance… Add in the nymphed and streamered fish from the morning… Might have touched 50. I wasn’t counting but trust that it was a lot. Most were pretty small though: 8-9 inchers. Some 11-13” though – enough to make it interesting. Nice bends in the 2 wt.

(4) And back to the Hamm’s: after I hung it up for the day, I cracked a can of said beer and sat on a culvert, watching fish for half an hour. This is what happens: the caddis fly horizontally along the water surface, occasionally dapping down – presumably to drop eggs, but I’m not sure about that… And while they fly parallel, the trout watch them… tracking them and positioning themselves…. And then when the fly hits the water the trout rockets up and crushes it. Point is that they are not looking for dead drifted adult flies all the time. And guys say “skitter the fly” but good luck with that: I can see how you can make your fly skitter on the water surface, but how can you make it hover and move slowly over the water, and then dap down here and there? If someone can do that, I’d love to watch the technique. I did notice that fish hit the adult fly often right as it was landing on the water… maybe there is something to that: lay your fly down as softly as you can, on a rising fish with the thought that he’ll see it coming in the air and then sock it when it comes to rest on water surface. Who knows. When they were frenzied and porpoising after anything, none of this mattered: they crushed anything that looked like a caddis.

(5) Prescription is that this adult is a #18. However, the WING is clearly longer than a #18 hook shank. The adult body is small.

What else to say…. Not a hell of a lot, other than watching a hatch like this unfold is absolutely fascinating. The bugs were everywhere, in swarms. The caddis have been here a lot longer than we have… For how long? They live and die by this stream and the fish eat the hell out of them. Rocks and soil charge water with nutrient which grows plants which grow bugs and little fish which grow big fish which grow me. Or you or my kids. It’s the ultimate way to catch fish, IMO: tapping yourself into this cycle.

Looks like Hamm’s is drained and it’s 11:15 PM.