Posts Tagged ‘no hackle’
Almost all days you dry fly fish there becomes a theme. On one day it’s caddis in the riffle, another day it’s midges on the slick, and on another day it could be “Searcher Bugs” on the edges. Well my day had a theme alright….it went like this: Hook a big fish, chase him to Parma and land him, or sometimes chase him for 75 yards and lose him. No matter where I was on the river, the scenario continued right down to the last fish I landed at 8:45 (after I chased him for 80 yards through an underwater boulder patch and finally netted him). The other consistent theme was flat-out having to deal with some big, nasty, dirty rotten “Brownies” that knew how to make the fight a fight.
The sections of river I fished had no consistent hatches, but I saw a plethora of bugs. In the mix were Sallys, a few PMDs, a large Callibaetis, midges, BWOs, caddis in two distinct sizes, and a handful of unidentifiables. There were few targets and no large groups of fish stationed up in a feeding position. So I did what we do…tie on a searcher bug and start hucking it to holding water. My bug of choice was a Tan Searcher #16 and it was a pretty good choice, because the first four large fish of the day ate that bug. I hooked those four large fish over a 100-yard stretch of river; and interestingly enough, I landed each of those fish in the same spot: A large boulder in the middle of the river. Every one of those fish, when hooked immediately, turned and bolted downriver and I had no choice but to chase it.
I used the Tan Searcher until I served it against a slow, deep edge and a giant “Brownie” false took on it. Knowing the fish would never come back to the Searcher, I changed flies to a Bare Belly Caddis (Green) #18. I served the caddis back to the fish; and on the third cast, a big, old head appears and eats my bug. I set the hook and the fish screams out to deep water and rocks me up. I run out to the rock cluster, free my line, and the fish is still on. The fish roars straight downstream almost to my backing with me in hot pursuit. I catch up to the fish; he turns and starts running up river. I hold my ground; the fish runs upriver 30 yards and rocks me up again. I can no longer feel the fish, so I wade up to the rock where I anticipated to maybe saving my fly. I stick my rod tip above the rock and pull, and damned if the fish doesn’t blow out from under the rock and head off downstream again. While I was wading upriver to free my fly, the fish was simply resting under the rock. My tongue’s hanging out from chasing this dude and he’s resting under a rock and comes back out with renewed invigoration. The only thing he doesn’t do is slam a fin in my solar plexus as he went by. He runs downriver into my backing this time and I’m hot on his trail. I catch up to the fish and begin to move him into slower water; he comes begrudgingly. The fish is now below me in softer water and starts head shaking. On about the fourth shake, my line goes limp and I watch the big old guy swim away. He actually broke the 5X tippet, but the real problem was he totally serrated part of my tapered leader and my entire tippet. So I not only lose the fish and my fly, but I have to totally re-rig from the butt piece down. Can you spell “Butt Kicking?”
I finally get back upriver where I hooked and lost the last fish and immediately I see a very large fish porpoise in the center of the riffle. On the first cast the fish eats my caddis; I set the hook, and right on cue, the fish zings off downriver. I was beginning to feel like the fish were just having a good time walking their dog. One hundred yards downriver on the opposite bank, I land the fish.
At the top of the run, the hard riffle flattened out into a slick and I ran into the first pod of feeding fish. There were several fish stationed up around a cluster of underwater boulders. I positioned above the fish and systematically caught them all, plus two bonus fish that were nestled up against the far shore. That was the only group of feeding fish I served to all day. The afternoon went flat. I hunted heads with no success and worked a couple of runs of water with a searcher with the same results. For about a three-hour window, I picked up two fish.
I finished off the day on a riffle on the low side the river. It was the caddis hour, but the caddis forgot to come to the party. I saw two fish rise in the riffle and I hooked and landed them both. It was darkening quickly, the clouds were heavy and it began to sprinkle a little rain. I decided to call it quits for the day and saw an opening across the river through the willows that I could get back up to my car. I slowly waded back across the river looking for heads and my fly line was hanging in the water still ready to deliver if I saw a target. I was almost back across the river when looking upstream and out of the corner of my eye I think I see a fish break the surface right against the bank about 10 feet ahead of me. I dry the fly and flip it into the cubby hole where I thought I saw the fish. After a few casts I figured my eyes were playing tricks on me in the fading light. I took one step toward the shore and a gorgeous, big, golden-colored “Brownie” rises in the same spot I’d seen him before. The fish is less than a rod’s length away from me and he rises again. I pull my tippet inside the eyes of my rod and flip my Emperor Caddis Black #20 to the fish. I don’t see my fly but the “Brownie” did, and he came straight at me, opened his big white mouth, and ate my caddis. It was really dark against the edge of the bank and the white of the fish’s mouth looked fluorescent when he opened up. I’ve seen many cool takes, but that rates up there with the best of them.
I set the hook and the fish went loco; tearing downriver in a burst that put me in my backing in about three seconds. As I had done all day, I began wading after the fish. I got my dry fly line started back on the reel and the fish rips me right back into my backing. I move downriver, and finally in the last moments of daylight, I land the fish. He was spectacular, about 20-inches long, very golden, and super heavy.
Postscript on Thursday, May 16:
I woke up this morning, rolled out of bed and almost needed a wheel chair to get to the bathroom. It was a gentle reminder of what the fish put me through yesterday.
Flies that caught fish:
PMD Comparadun #18
Bare Belly Caddis Green #20 & #18
Tan Searcher #16
Emperor Caddis Black #20
There are days in dry fly fishing when you catch 20 fish and you still feel you didn’t capture the river on that day. Our day on the Big Lost River seemed a little like that. We saw larger fish than we caught even though some of the larger fish were on the reds and we stayed clear of them. There were hatches that came off, a few BWO and some tiny midges, but we never really found the bug the fish salivated for. So we did what we do….take what the river offers and try to solve the puzzle. That means a lot of changing flies and hucking the bug; sometimes to a feeding fish and other times, to holding waters.
Some fly patterns were pretty successful and we’d hook a few fish, then the next run of water they’d treat that bug like dirt and we’d change flies again. By the end of the day, I think I tied on 10 different flies to net 20 fish. The fish were not really big–ranging from 9-14 inches, and they were persnickety little poops. There were numerous fish feeding that didn’t eat our offering.
So in the end, we had a great afternoon on the Lost; but I felt like the fish lost a few skirmishes yet ended up winning the war.
Flies that caught fish:
Black Emperor Caddis #20 (Pretty successful on the Lost)
Black Ant #16
Dual Wing BWO #22 (Tester Bug)
BWO Colored Emerger #22
I’ve been sneaking off to the Boise River over the last couple of weeks in the afternoon and exploring the Boise River in town. We have a lot of fishermen who fish the river in town, and I was trying to get some bug combinations that are working well right now.
The first time I went to the river, I caught the tail out of a BWO hatch on a big, slow-moving slick. The fish were very skittish, difficult to approach, and I ended up hooking one fish on a BWO Colored Emerger #20. The hatch died out before I could find the right bug. The second time I went to the river, the wind was howling so hard, it was basically unfishable, but I managed to catch a small fish in a riffle casting blindly. My success rate was pretty dismal in two trips, but I had seen some pretty nice fish in one location the first day and thought it might be worth another look.
Today I arrived at the river around 2:30 on a stretch of water above Barber Park. My tie-on bug was a BWO Comparadun #20, and I went back to the run of water I’d seen the BWOs come off on a previous trip. I entered the water at the top of the hole and immediately there were fish feeding sporadically throughout the run. Some of the fish were quite large. I was tempted to move down on the larger fish and start serving them a fly, but I wasn’t sure what they might eat. There was a large-sized baetis mayfly scattered across the surface, but there was a very small green caddis in the mix also. I stayed upriver from the larger fish and served my BWO Comparadun to a few smaller fish. Three fish came to the Comparadun, but none of them ate it. I changed flies to a Baetis Tantalizer #18 thinking that a belly-down fly in slower moving water might be the ticket. The second fish I served the fly to ate it and I landed the first fish of the day–a feisty 12-inch fish that jumped a half dozen times.
While I was landing the fish and releasing him, there was a small pod of large fish that moved into casting distance below me. I re-entered the water and slowly moved into position. I was directly above the fish and had no choice but to feed the fly straight into their feeding lanes. The current was moving in odd directions, but I finally put an accurate delivery on a big fish about 10 feet off the bank. In slow motion, he rose up and ate the bug, and I could see straight down his throat when he took. I set the hook and the fish put on quite a show. He jumped twice, zinged out to deep water, and battled me like a bad dog for 5 minutes. I finally land the fish; he was gorgeous–about 15-inches long and very shimmery. I released the fish and got on target for the next one.
Even though the Baetis Tantalizer was hooking fish, I was getting some false takes also. I changed flies to a Baetis No Hackle #18; it was the closest match I had to the bug on the surface of the water. It was a good change and I immediately hook a hard-fighting 13-incher and then another gorgeous 15-incher. After landing them, the hatch seemed to wane and many of the targets disappeared from the surface. I landed one more fish–about 14-inches long before the hatch disappeared completely.
It was 4:30, so I hung out hunting the long slick for fish. No targets were available so I blind casted for awhile with no success. Then I think I see fish rising down the slick about 150 yards just below a gravely shoal that protruded out into the river. As I moved closer, there was a small pod of large fish feeding just from and below the shoal. Painfully slowly, I waded into position and served the fly to a fish in shallow water just off the shoal. He ate the fly and after a nice, energetic brawl, I land the fish. After releasing the fish, I spot another fish about 20 feet further out than the one I just hooked. On the second cast, I hook him, but he runs me to deep water and kicks the hook.
There were two fish still feeding below the shoal and both of them were larger fish, so I staged up above them at a quarter angle and served the fly. I was having to dead drift the fly a long ways to get to the fish, and the current was moving my fly off target, but I finally got the No Hackle in the chute of the fish closest to me. Just before my fly reached the fish, he ate a natural one a foot in front of my fly. My fly drifted by him about six inches and I see him turn sideways and eat my fly. I set the hook and the fish jumps three times in succession then runs into my backing to deep water. After what seemed like a very long time, I land the fish. She was a very heavy 17 1/2-inch fish that hadn’t missed a meal all of her life.
After admiring the fish and releasing it, the big slick went totally quiet and I called it a day. I enjoyed my 20 minute commute home. I don’t focus much on the Boise in town, but after today, I think I’ll pay a little more attention! (Note: No pictures today as I forgot the camera!)
Flies that caught fish:
1) Baetis Tantalizer #18
2) Baetis No Hackle #18
Note: The small caddis that was hatching was the exact size as a Caddidge #22 and dark colored like the Caddidge. Even though I didn’t try the Caddidge, I’m sure it would work.
Every so often you fish and everything that could possibly go wrong…goes wrong. We were trying to pick up a few fish on the tail out of the skwala hatch; and every time we had the camera out, it started raining. We’d put the camera away, and automatically we’d hook fish. There were no real hatches that came off, so the small bug fishing was slow. So that’s the way our day went, catching a few fish when the camera was off and finding few windows when the rain and wind weren’t blowing.
We ended up catching 14 fish, none of the real large variety except a 19 1/2-inch fish that Geoff caught in the rain. We had three fish come to the Slow Stone, but none of them ate the hook.
Flies that caught fish:
1) Blood Midge #20
2) Caddidge #22
3) BWO No Hackle #20
4) BWO Colored Emerger #20
Eric Steele, this blog’s for you!
It just felt like a Black Gold kind of day on the South Fork, and that is just what I did. My tie-on bug for the day was a Black Gold Hardback #10, and my reasoning behind this pattern was with the temperatures reaching close to 70 degrees, I thought that maybe some skwala would be roaming the banks. My theory was great, but I saw no skwala on the banks and I saw no skwala on the water. That did not stop me because I still thought deep down inside that they would take this bug. Black Gold has been a flat-out South Fork Killer, but I was using a different Black Gold that is significantly fatter to imitate a skwala, so it was going to be a little experiment.
We showed up at the river bright and early arriving around 10:30. We decided to head downriver from Danskin; and I hate to say it, but after working a show this past weekend, I really did not want to see or talk to anyone. So we dressed down and hit the trail downriver. We wanted to get as far downriver as possible thinking the water would be slightly warmer for some big-bug action. I got to my fishing water around 11:30. The party did not take long to start with the first rainbow hitting the net at high noon. I was working a beautiful foam line that goes in and around large boulders and is a natural for fish to stage in. The Black Gold Hardback fishes beautifully in these types of water where it is not raging water—just meandering current pushing foam lines. It was a great section of river to spend Easter Sunday.
The fish were active throughout the whole run, and they really did not seem to care that I was throwing a size #10 2Xlong fly at them. For every fish that hit the net, there were probably just as many false takes with it. For a long time growing up, false takes used to irk me because I wanted to see the fish in the net; but now a false take is just as cool because the fly did its job in luring the fish to the surface. There were no real giants in the bunch, but they were all fat toads that wintered well. I spent 6 hours working beautiful foam lines and hucking a Black Gold Hardback. I just kept hearing a voice in my head saying, “Go Black Gold,” and I knew I just had to keep throwing it. Thank you Eric for inspiring me to keep throwing my Black Gold!
I don’t know how many fish succumbed to Black Gold, but it was enough for me not to want to change out tippets and leaders to chase feeding fish upriver. Good bye sweet South Fork of the Boise River—I will see you in a couple of months. Thank you for giving me an awesome Easter service on the river!!!
55 Degrees, rain, then partial sun (little wind)
This blog is going to take a lot of time….
I started the day about mid river. It was raining, semi warm, and I stood at the top of a beautiful stretch of hatch water expecting the BWOs or midges to appear at any moment. It didn’t happen so I moved down toward Cow Creek hunting heads. I found no heads so I decided to hunt a stretch of water at ground level. I never saw a fish rise through the run, but I saw a big fat skwala.
So I rigged my 5 wt. with a “Slow Stone” and moved to a nice, deep riff raff edge and began fishing it blindly to holding water. After covering 30 yards or so, a fish false takes the Slow Stone and never comes back. Then another false take; and on the third false take, I set my hook up into the high branches of a tree. It was a terminal snag and it broke off at the tapered to tippet knot. I re-rigged and fished the rest of the run without hooking a fish.
I moved downriver below Cow Creek; and on one of the points overlooking the river, I spot fish rising on a slick a quarter mile upriver. You should always carry field glasses if you dry fly fish; I’d have never seen the fish without the glasses. After wading the river and moving up into position, I’m finally addressing fish feeding on large midges and some BWOs. I skipped the tail out of the run and moved up to the riff raff edge toward the top of the run. Immediately I see fish rising in the soft foam lines inside the hard current. There was no way to approach the fish from above, so I was forced to deliver quarter-angle casts up over the top of the fish. The fish didn’t like my BWO Comparadun #20, so I changed to a BWO Colored Emerger #20 and bingo, that was the ticket. I hooked three fish out of that pod and landed two of them.
The more I studied the bugs at the surface, the more I realized the large midges were the most prevalent insect. I changed flies to a Blood Midge #20 and began fishing the 40-foot riffle coming into the run. I could see numerous fish feeding from frog water all the way out to hard current. I very slowly and methodically hooked every fish that peeked his head up and I hooked a few other fish that came up blindly and ate. By the time I hooked the last big rainbow at the top of the run, I’d landed eight fish almost in succession and there wasn’t one fish that refused the “Blood Midge.” There was one very large fish in that group; he was a real dark colored male with brilliant red markings.
I ran into one of our fishermen who was pretty new to the South Fork, so I joined up with him and we walked down below Danskin. It was 3:00 and the rain had subsided, the wind was calm and there were virtually no fish feeding at the surface in the first run we viewed. We moved further downriver and studied another hatch run. There were no obvious feeding fish at the surface. I began to study the far bank in close to the edges and felt pretty confident there were fish feeding on emergers. As I waded closer, sure enough, there were tiny rings forming and a pod of fish was on the hunt.
I positioned below the fish and Mike was above them and we began to attack from both angles. Mike got us started with a nice bow, and then I hooked up and landed a fish. I hooked another fish, then Mike landed a fish. There were no more fish feeding, so I started casting blindly into a soft foam line about 6 feet off the edge of the river. I could see my Blood Midge perfectly as it rode the slow current. Suddenly there was a tiny ring at my fly and I gently set the hook. The fish roared out of the hole to deep water, then raced downstream. I wasn’t concerned because I thought it was a small fish in accordance with the small ring when it took. The fish felt heavy and he was owning me down river. I had to follow. The fish zings across the river and I’m nearly into my backing. I’m thinking maybe I snagged the fish. Eventually I got the fish in close enough to see him for the first time. He’s large…very large. That puckered me right up a bit and I went into “serious mode” to get this guy to the net.
Meanwhile Mike hooks another fish, lands it and releases it, and I’m still trying to land my fish. I finally slide the fish into the net. Wow! He was really big, slightly over 20 inches, and super heavy. It was another gorgeous male fish. We admired the fish for a long time, revived him well, and watched him melt away into the abyss. I would have been totally happy if I didn’t catch another fish on this day, but that’s not the way it happened.
Mike and I split forces; Mike stayed and finished out the run where I had just caught the big fish, and I moved upriver to the next run. I settled in on a slow-moving edge with foam lines and a large cluster of boulders at the top of the run. It started innocently enough—as I was casting my Blood Midge blindly, a big old fish head comes out of nowhere and eats my bug. I land the fish and then went on a maniac run of big fish. I saw a couple of fish rise that immediately ate the Blood Midge, and I caught another run of fish that came up blindly and ate the bug. I was at the top of the run where there was a big tree with limbs that overhung the river. There was a soft current and foam line that ran under the tree branches. I softly landed my fly in the slow-moving water under the tree. I’m staring at my fly and another big fish sips my offering. I set the hook and immediately the fish had a plan. He raced out to deep water, wrapped around a large boulder then jumped about two feet out of the water. I see there’s only one way I’m going to land this fish and the chances of pulling it off would be slim. I raced up along the bank to the point I was even with the boulder the fish was wrapped around, then I waded out, stuck my rod over the top of the boulder, and miraculously the fish comes loose and heads downriver. After a knockdown, drag out brawl, I finally land the fish. He wasn’t the largest fish (about 18 inches) I’d hooked on the day, but he was a no-good, dirty rotten dog with a lot of tricks. Little did I know, Mike was on the trail above me and watched the whole boulder issue unfold.
So I had waded up through my fishing water to land the last fish; all that was left of my run was a fast riffle section at the top of the hole. I sent Mike up to another run and I stayed to finish out the riffle. Instantly I see a fish rise in a fast section of the riffle and after about six casts, I finally get it perfect and the fish eats my Caddidge #22 which I had changed to for fishing the faster water. The Caddidge is a lot more visible than the Blood Midge. I land the fish and continue up through the riffle. I was casting way out ahead when I see a giant fish head appear about 10 feet in front of me ahead of a boulder in a little foam line. There was a lot of drag on a short cast but I finally put it on this big guy and he ate my Caddidge the same way I saw him rise before, full head out. I set the hook and he shot downriver toward a very large boulder in mid-stream. I knew I couldn’t bring this fish up through the fast current so I elected to wade the river and guide the fish out of the boulder patch and into the cobblestone riffle. He almost wrapped me on the boulder, but I shook him loose and we carried on our duel in the riffle water beyond the boulders. I thought it would get easier; it didn’t The fish went broadside on me in the faster section of the riffle and I absolutely couldn’t pry him out. I’d make a little progress and then he would roar back out to faster water. I kept moving downriver thinking I could maybe get under the fish. I couldn’t the fish just kept to fast water and moved down ahead of me. After at least 10 minutes at the very bottom of the riffle 100 yards below where I hooked the fish, I slip the fish into the net. It was a spectacular sight with a giant fish in the net and a little tiny Caddidge stuck in the point of his bottom lip. I enjoyed a sacred moment looking over a South Fork monster and I thanked him then watched him swim across the shallow cobblestone bottom of the river.
I met Mike at the bridge and we finished out the day hooking five nice rainbows in the run above the bridge. We caught them all on a size #22 Caddidge.
So that was my day on the South Fork of the Boise River, and I’ve given you exact details as it happened; the only thing I don’t have are photos to share. I forgot the camera and the only photos I’ll have are the ones Mike took and we were only together for two fish photos. It was a bad day to forget the camera!
Flies that caught fish:
BWO Comparadun #20
BWO Emerger #20
Blood Midge #22 and #20 (2 trips in a row this fly has brutalized the bug fish on the South Fork)
I headed to the river yesterday with no intentions in mind, just huck a big bug (Slow Stone 2013) all day until a hatch comes off, and then I would adjust to the hatch accordingly. The big bug fishing was pretty good throughout the day, but the “Brownies” were not cooperating with the small bugs. I never saw a fish peek his head up until 3 pm. There were midges on the water and in the air, there were even BWO duns on the water, and still not one fish was raising his head. What’s a man a do? Keep hucking a size #10 Slow Stone Skwala.
I hit my first run of the day around 9:20, and I had my first fish in the net at 9:34. I was thinking to myself that this is pretty early to be landing my first fish, but I was elated nonetheless. I finished working that stretch of water and then I headed downriver to hit another run of water. I just started working Mr. Slow Stone and all of a sudden, a beautiful “Brownie” rises up and annihilates my bug. I set the hook and fought him around and put him the net. Two fish in the net and it wasn’t even 10:30–pretty awesome. After releasing that fish, I started working the water and all of sudden behind me I hear, “Geoff is that you?” I holler back yup, it’s me. It was a good friend from the Central Oregon Fly Fishers, Lee Ann, and she was standing up by my truck on the road. I reeled up my line and decided to go see what she was up to. After catching up, we decided it was time to go fish, so downriver we headed.
We settled on the next stretch of water and I was explaining to Lee Ann how we were going to attack the water, and it did not take her long to see the big picture. Within five minutes she had a beautiful “Brownie” in the net, and then she proceeded to hook two more right in a row. She had a grin from ear to ear and she just had to say, “Geoff, I love your bugs!” After finishing that run we proceeded to run downriver in search of some more browns that wanted to eat Skwala. We found another section of water that just had big “Brownie” written all over it.
I waded across the river and put Lee Ann in a great run and I told her I would meet back up with her at the truck. I walked downriver from her through a bluff section of river. I found myself in some waters that I guarantee hadn’t seen an angler in years. I snuck down to the brush pile that was by the river and decided I would cast behind it first before I stepped into the water. I cast my Slow Stone and I was hunkered behind the cover. My bug was not on the water for five seconds and I see a monster mouth just come up and surround my bug. I set the hook and the war was on; I had no idea the size of this fish, but the way he was fighting, I thought he was fouled hooked. After about three big runs to deep water, I finally get this fish worked in. To my surprise, he wasn’t foul hooked; he was just a flat-out giant. My net is 24” long, and this hog was longer than my net, and he weighed a solid 5 pounds; not bad for just coming out of the winter. It was an absolute gorgeous Owyhee River hog! I have got to have a talk with Lee Davidson from Snake River Outfitters about the net I traded flies for. The fish on the “O” and South Fork of the Boise River are far too big to effectively use this net!
After fishing a few more runs, we decided to head upriver in hopes to catch up with another crew member who has been a pretty good fishing partner on the Deschutes River. We meet up with Eric on a stretch of water that had Skwala written all over it. Eric takes one cast, and bam! There is a fish. While he was fighting that fish, I knew another one would be lying in there; and like a low dog, I cast up in there, and sure enough there he was. We had a double on and the laughs began. We landed the two fish and were taking a few photos right about time Lee Ann steps into the hole and lands a fish. We had a triple in one short run in a matter of four minutes. Pretty spectacular!! After Lee Ann released her fish, she decided to move up in the run. That was a good choice because she landed another two fish.
All in all, it was a great day to be on the water with good fishing friends. Lee Ann had the hot rod—landing the most fish among her husband, Eric, and I. Eric ended up landing five fish; and as for me, I didn’t care because the 24” plus fish flat out made my day. Sometimes it is just amazing the things you see when you are using a dry fly!!!
Flies that caught fish:
Slow Stone Orange #10
Slow Stone Olive #10
If you follow our blogs, our little excursion on the South Fork of the Snake River pretty well cured me of small bug fishing. I love the Blood Midge and Caddidge because the force is strong for hooking a ton fish in those bugs. Saturday was not about fooling brownies on the “O,” it was about strapping 4X tapered leader straight to the butt piece and a Slow Stone Orange 2013 directly to it. For all you skwala junkies, be patient, it is still too early. For anyone dumb enough to huck a Slow Stone around all day like me, you could have had a trip like this.
I entered the water around 11:30; and much to my surprise, there were heads at the surface, midges in the air, and a monster BWO hatch was soon to follow. I find myself in a beautiful riffle watching fish feed and I have the wrong bug on, but what the heck, I was ready to be defeated by the “O.” I started working Slow Stone tight to the edges; and on about the 5th cast, in slow motion, there was a giant mouth around my bug. I set the hook, felt the head shake and bam he’s off. Little strange, perfect hook set, size #10 in his mouth, and yes I lost him. The fish gods got even with me because I literally lost 5 fish in a row after they were on. Very frustrating, but the fish gods cannot take away the fact I saw every single take and they were awesome!!
After my rookie fishing start, I ran upriver to see a car in every pull out. Much to my surprise one of my favorite riffles was open and I immediately park the truck, grab my Kast coat and vest, and bolted to the river. At this point the hatch was big on with tons of fish all around me. Once again I did not have the right bug on, but I had already seen five takes on a Slow Stone, so I decided I am not changing out tippets and leaders so I am going to huck my Slow Stone. Every single fish I tried to target that was feeding around me refused my bug, but when it rode a foam line fished blindly–Holly Molly, was it exciting. I picked off systematically every single fish that was living easy under cover scum sucking from the foam line. I went crazy in that riffle, not one false take; and every Slow Stone buried deep in their lip, and I never missed a fish. “Brownie” after “Brownie” hitting the net, it was truly a remarkable thing. The last fish in that riffle was a take I will not forget: Hiding on one side of a rock, this giant took my Slow Stone literally 6 feet away from me, and I saw plum down to his gills. Very sweet! Coolest take I have seen in long time. After I got him in to photo, I released him and thought I just skwalared this whole riffle and hooked a dozen fish. One of the amazing things about it was they weren’t juvenile fish; they ranged from 18”-22”. Thank you fishing gods, for an exceptional dry fly day.
After leaving that run, the winds picked up and I thought I had enough. Two days on the South Fork of the Snake River, 1 day on Henry’s Fork, and 1 sweet day on the “O” with a big bug!!! It was a pretty good way to finish my vacation before the last two shows of the year. On this day, I saw four skwala all together, and I drove the length of the river and looked on the banks every place I went. Four were the grand total, and none in the river. If you were smart (not me) you would have killed the fish on a Blood Midge, Caddidge, BWO Colored Emerger, or BWO No Hackle. The fish were feeding on adult duns and adult midges. My father would’ve been shocked that I didn’t change out gear and get a small bug on, get above the fish, and get to work picking them off one by one. I sit here with a sore shoulder from hucking Slow Stone around, but I saw 16 beautiful takes on riffled foam lines!! Some days it is just flat awesome being a dry fly enthusiast!!!
It is never good when your son schools you at the river!! While Geoffrey was sticking big “Brownies” with a #20 Blood Midge, his father was using every trick in the book to even fool a fish. He was hooking many, I was hooking few; and that is a recipe for me to be reminded of this moment often in the future!! Ouch!!
All in all, it was a challenging day on the “O.” I never fished a line of water that had a major hatch come off, but almost every run had sporadic feeding fish. A fish would rise then never resurface in the same place. They were on the move and spread across large expanses of water. When you’d get a fish to rise in range, it was difficult to see which direction he was headed to get your delivery in front of the fish. It was like square and social dance lessons where my dosey doe was totally out of rhythm with the fish. Then all of sudden I’d get a fish to rise in a perfect position, serve him a fly and hook the fish. The problem was that didn’t happen often enough. From roughly noon till six o’clock, the fish were always one step ahead of me and I worked my tail off to catch four.
On the other hand, Geoffrey was having the same kind of day as me, until he found a large pod of fish feeding in a riffle coming into a big slick. He brutalized the fish while his father was struggling. He was successfully landing fish while his father floundered. He was serving perfect downstream casts to the nose of fish while his father was targetless. His net was full of fish while mine hung dry on my back. But…you know my son’s a pretty nice person, and when he’d landed all the takers in the pod of fish and we met back at the truck, he shared with me these assuring words, “For the price tag of $997.63, just under a thousand dollars, he’d teach me how to have success on the Owyhee River.” I told him I forgot my checkbook and I thought silently, “Why did I have children?”
Flies that Caught Fish:
Blood Midge #22
BWO Colored Emerger #22
It seemed like an eternity since the last time I had a fly rod in my hand. With show season in full swing and tying inventory in between shows, it leaves very little time for the most important thing—fishing!! Through much debate about going to the South Fork of the Boise River or the Owyhee, I finally gave in and decided to go chase some “Brownies” on the “O.” Monday was an absolute gorgeous day with very little wind and very little sun, which is a perfect combination to be in an intense hatch at some point in the day. Here is how the day went.
We got to the Owyhee around 10:30 and found our usual camp spot to dress down and gear the rods. After about 10 minutes, it was time to go find some heads. We traveled the river about 5 miles and found a few heads sipping and we decided to go after those fish. Once I was in the water, I realized these fish were not eating when I saw them from the road; they were sporadically coming to a bug, sipping it, and then going back down and never returning to the surface. It is almost impossible to catch those fish because they are not eating in trough, rather just coming up here and there. It was a fruitless run picking up zero fish and cursing the fishing gods. After about an hour, it was time to cruise upriver in pursuit of feeding fish.
The next little run we decided to fish looked like a beautiful stretch with some deep boulders and willowy cut banks, and I honestly thought this run would produce. Much to my dismay, I hooked one fish with the only opportunity I had and the rest of the time I was practicing my deliveries. After fishing that stretch for about an hour, I met back up with dad and we decided to travel further upriver and have a little lunch and lick our wounds because at that point, we had only hooked and landed three fish.
At the third hole we hit, I finally found myself with the first group of fish actually feeding consistently and in range. Our good friend Al Hogenauer had met up with us at this run, and he got to see the mastery skills I possess with feeding fish. The fish were feeding in about 10 inches of water and about 18 inches off the bank; and to make things even more difficult, there were overhanging branches that the fish were under. Al sat and watch me try for 20 minutes to get one drift under the canopy, but I never once got one cast under it—even when I tried moving down and out and finding any angle I could. It wasn’t meant to b;, I put every one of those fish down, and now at this point it wasn’t looking good and the day was starting to get late.
We had time to hit one more section of river and it was a real treat because the last few times, I have spent little time in or around the dam area. Much to my surprise, there was no one fishing the upper section of the river. I parted ways with dad and found myself in a pretty nice little windstorm and no feeding fish. I was really starting to feel sorry for myself then all of a sudden around 4:00, there was a pretty sizeable Mahogany mayfly coming off. I was beginning to see fish feed, but they were not focused on the dun, rather the emergers that were coming to the surface. I was very excited at this point because I was above the fish and in perfect position to start picking fish off one by one. For 1 ½ hours I did nothing but hook, fight, and land monster “Brownies”!! I landed six fish; and I know that doesn’t sound like much, but the smallest fish was around 19” and the largest fish was 1 inch smaller than my entire net that measures 24”. These fish were far from skinny and they were all-out brutes to fight and land; what a gift from the fishing “gods.” At 5:30, I landed my last fish, surveyed the water, and saw no more feeding fish so I headed back to my truck to partake in a little after-fishing beverage!!
It is starting to stay lighter on the river, and after meeting up with dad around 5:40, we decided we had time to fish one more run before we headed home. We drove out to a monster slick and immediately started seeing fish feed all around me, what is a man to do? I landed one nice fish, lost another, and had one false take. Not a bad way to end a fishing outing.
The Owyhee never fished like it was supposed to, but that is fly fishing at its greatest. I never had one fish to target in a riffle section where I could camouflage a cast or stand a chance to fool them. Rather, every fish I hooked was on still water (hardly moving); I had to be very patient and I had to put movement on all of my flies to entice a fish to come to the surface. I caught fish on a Blood Midge #22 and #20, and #22 BWO Colored Emerger. The day wasn’t about fishing in easy conditions, it was about patience, willpower, and just knowing enough about dry flies to figure out how to fool the fish. By no means was it a banner day, but it is hard to complain about giant hogs in my net!!
On a lighter note, I was able to try my new Hell Razor jacket from Kast Extreme Fishing Gear. I was in a pretty hard windstorm the last two hours of fishing, and I never once felt the wind, which is highly unusual for the type of gear I used to fish in. The only complaint I have is I forgot my beanie at home, and my head was very cold, but my core was nice and warm. I guess I had better look into getting a beanie from Kast!! Awesome gear check them out at http://kastgear.com/
Flies that caught fish:
Blood Midge #22, #20
BWO Colored Emerger #22