I must confess that I’m running a little behind on the blog posts. The dog didn’t eat my homework, but between traveling, work and fishing there’s been little time for superfluous zeros and ones. I’ll do my level best to right the ship and get this thing back up to speed with my current backlog of angling escapades. My previous New York offering was a long-winded soliloquy, so I’ll attempt to stick to the facts folks.
As I regularly remark, June is my favorite month to fish and I’ve endeavored to savor every minute of it. Everything in June is big. The hatches, the long days, the thunder showers and the anticipation. Get it while the gettin’s good because the peak mosquito, ticks and weeds season looms perilously close. Fortunately for us the Brown Trout train is a runnin’ and far be it from me to stop it in its tracks. So let’s get on with the show.
There’s an infinite number of ways to skin the cat this time of year. The obvious approach is to match the evening hatch given the variety of swarming bugs. It’s been a hit or miss affair with any number of patterns working, depending upon the day. Is there any place on this planet where a Parachute Adams won’t occasionally dupe a wily trout?
I’ve still been embroiled in a hefty round of streamer testing. I wrote the phrase “there’s no such thing as too big” in my Close Encounters article and for some unexplained reason I’ve been testing the limits of that proclamation. I think I’ve been in search of a personal “slump buster” given the lack of productivity with my regular compliment of go-to flies. For the most part I’ve been throwing my own creations, but even the big deceiver/striper pattern I threw in Manhattan elicited strikes from overmatched dink Browns. In typical fly fishing karma fashion, I launched the meaty fly deep into the clutches of a tree on the next cast. The prevailing notion that Brown Trout will eat prey half their body length whenever available was in full effect.
June has continued to provide plenty of precipitation. Maybe not to the levels that we saw earlier this spring, but certainly enough to turn on the worm bite a bit. What the entomological purist may fail to recognize is that the match the hatch mantra is relative. Take a look at these pics and you tell me what this fish is dining on besides my Orange Twizzlers fly? When I removed the mangled remains of my fly from the fish’s jaw I was impressed with how the chenille dutifully replicated the natural. But enough about the details and one man’s fly preference, let’s just soak in a fistful of salmo trutta, shall we?
Nothing like a healthy dose of June to cure what ails ya! It reads like a broken record of Brown Trout love. A handful of solid specimens have been brought to hand, but it hasn’t been as easy as the title would indicate. I’ve logged a good number of miles on several creeks to scratch together this montage. Think an opportunistic big Brown won’t take a huge fly if given the opportunity? The prevailing winner in the fly department has been a massive Galloupesque articulated job with dual #4 3x hooks that I’ve dubbed “The Big Easy.” Take a look at the blurry iphone pic just above the photo of the fly, you’ll see a hint of a “big easy” deep in the trout’s mouth. I’ve tested a single-hooked version of the fly, but have grown frustrated with too many short strikes so I opted to double down. I’ve fished the T.B.E. fly in several corners of the Driftless over the last few weeks and it is by no means a catch-all sort of pattern. It’s more of a feast of famine situation in which I’ll elaborate in subsequent posts.
I mentioned a few months ago that a “bridge busting tank” had taken me for a ride. The beast shot out of the water doing the Lambeau Leap and subsequently spit the hook back into my face in defiance. It’s always a difficult conundrum as to when you should revisit a spot once you’ve located a big fish. If they’ve had hook in their jaw the task at hand can be even more perplexing. In this instance I felt confident in the effectiveness of my T.B.E. fly so I decided I’d go back and take a shot after almost 2 months of waiting.
The bridge that she calls home is one that seems to be overlooked by most anglers, including myself, in lieu of a more popular access point. I’ve previously made a few casts with only a handful of dinks to show for it, but have rarely spent much time investigating it with any detail. I often bypass it to move on to greener pastures. Almost by accident earlier this spring my fly slid close to a deeper undercut which garnered the quick joyride that terminated in disappointment and what ifs. This time around I decided to approach the bridge pool cut bank on the near side and slip the T.B.E. downstream into the holding lie. I proceeded in ultra stealth mode preparing for close quarters combat. A deep breath followed by quick downstream flip was in order. Pause, pause, pause in standard tightlines tradition. Nothing. Second, third and forth casts also produced zip. I then scoured the pool for any signs of life, which came back negative. A one hit wonder I told myself as I slowly inched my way upstream past the bridge pool. A shallow silty stretch is just upstream that has some thin cut banks and a small log. Not as juicy as the deep pool downstream but certainly worthy of investigation. I haphazardly cast blindly over streamside vegetation with little thought of the beast being in this unlikely and shallow locale. My fluffy jointed friend was greeted with a rude awaking as I quickly set the hook, but wasn’t sure what I was dealing with. Immediately the fish ran downstream towards the bridge as I got a visual ID as to what I was dealing with. I knew it was the fish I’d lost before. It’s signature yellowish bronze coloration, sparse dot pattern, and massive size was the tell. Holy shit I told myself, I’d actually succeeded in accomplishing what I’d set out to do as I slipped her into my net after a brief tussle. This was in stark contrast to the fishless and lackluster hours that I’ve endured this season. I got a quick measurement which put this fish a hair shy of 24″ (I promised a little mathematics from time to time for you “numbers” guys and gals). This fish was worth hassling with my tripod for a handheld grip and grin shot. I reached into my pocket to grab my Joby tripod only to realize that I’d left it in my garage. Nevertheless I proceeded to snap a few closeups on my net before the fish flopped and escaped upstream. I was flooded with a sense of accomplishment that had me buzzing all day long.
Chosing to live and work in the “north country” can be an absurd proposition. There’s a limited peak window of activity and opportunity from all creatures big and small. We take to the more temperate climate and extract all that we can before lumbering back in retreat. The inevitable cycle of life continues and I predictably march to the beat of its drummer while basking in the cool waters of the big easy.