Trico Hatch, fishing for Big Browns on small Flies.
I often fish with buddies or guys in the fly fishing industry of sorts. Fishing in a group is so different than fishing solo. As luck would have it, I had a break in my schedule, so I planned a quick trip to some local water to chase big browns. When one fishes often enough, they will eventually have one of those amazing days on the water that we as fly fishers consider to be “Epic”.
Arriving in the blackness of early morning, I got all geared up with that blanket of stillness and quite that only comes in the very early morning hours while in the wilderness. No crickets, no bird songs, just the distant sound of water following its course down river. I turn on the headlamp which makes stepping around sagebrush and boulders to reach the river’s edge a bit more easy. I find a spot riverside to sit until the sun peeks above the ridge. Not able to see, I focus my attention to the subtle sounds that surround me. Do I actually hear fish rising, or is that just my mind playing fish tricks on me…?
First light comes and I make my way into the shallow waters. I move slow, very slow, as the darkness will still not allow me to see or track my fly for some time. When the sun finally made itself present, I begin to hunt for heads. The first couple of hours, I had the spot all to myself. Lots of small Trico’s being sipped by big hungry trout. I actually fished the same pool of water all morning. The run was approx.. 75’ long and 8’-0” wide. I first pulled fish from the upper section of the run and then made my way down with longer drifts and more fish. Once I got to the end of the run (that I could reach from this position) I simply started fishing the upper section again. I was able to hook, net and land fish after fish from this hole.
I began the day with one small Trico, I was able to hook a few fish, but I knew that I was missing many more strikes than I could actually see. I decided to tie on a small New Zealand wool indicator. I mean small, the orange indicator was not much larger than my fly, but I could see the bright orange color from my casting position. The adjustable indicator was set approx. 15” above my fly. I was fishing a dry fly that I left untreated. This means it was now beneath the surface of the water just a bit. This was just the ticket needed to fool these heavily pressured fish. The morning went as any fly fisher could hope. Pick a fish, make a cast, hook fish, play fish, release fish. Check fly / knots / etc. Pick a fish, make a cast, hook fish, play fish, etc. After about 8 fish were netted, A decent fish hit my bright orange indicator... I quickly remove the indicator, tie on a easy to see BWO-parachute and drop my trico off the hook bend about 12-15”. A few cast’s are made with the new setup and Bang, I pick a fish up on the BWO. That makes me remove the Trico so I can achieve an even better drift. A few more casts brings in a couple of decent fish on the dry. During the course of the morning, I switched from indicator to dry / dry dropper/ zebra midge / Trico / Etc.
It seemed if I was patient enough to check my fly and remove any moss every other cast, I was rewarded frequently with a strike. As mentioned above, this was one of those Epic days on the river.
Then after a couple hours of fishing, I heard the tell-tale sound of wading boots on the rounded river rocks of the bank. I turn to see an older gentleman decked out in all the newest gear. I let him know I would be there for the next couple of hours and he proceeded to move back into the brush to leave. Not five minutes later, I see the man entering the water no less than 50 feet away from me. Now, I have had my share of fish this morning so no fisher was going to taint this trip, but I was surprised to see this fisherman making his way into the water so close by me. I continued to hook and land fish after fish. Fish were rising right in front of the fisherman, but he was having no luck at all. I myself have been there in the past, so I informed the man of the fly type and size I was using. 22-24 Trico spinners. He said thanks and made a fly change. He made a few more cast in his immediate vicinity, but the fish stopped rising… He put them down with bad casts and unnatural drifts, simply put poor presentation.
I was still fishing the same pool of fish with much success. I noticed that he was getting closer and closer to me. It seemed he took one step for each cast that he made. At this time, he was now making long casts, much too long for anyone to get a proper drift. Now he was putting my fish down. Happy for the day I had and not wanting to end the day on a bad note, I made my way upriver towards my rig. Normally I would be more outspoken, but this day had been great, and I had plans to leave early before I even got to the river. I started the short walk upriver to my rig. Like most fly fishers, I love throwing big dry flies when I can. I remove the 5X tippet from my furled leader and tie on a length of 4x. A large hopper pattern is tied on and fished it tight to the grassy bank. Second cast gave me a decent brown. I fished for a few more minutes, but in reality I spent much time watching this other fisherman who pushed his way into my hole and simultaneously put all the fish down. No fish were rising… I so wanted to go give this guy a lesson in both fly fishing etiquette as well as fly presentation. With only ten minutes of fishing, he shut the entire 75’ feet of water down.
I will fully admit I am not the best fly caster out there, but I was able to fish the same pod of rising fish for four hours, then this guy made a few bad casts and the fish simply stopped feeding. I often get asked about our leaders spooking or scaring fish because the leader is not transparent… The answer is a definitive NO; Cutthroat furled leaders do not spook fish. Because our leaders land so soft and gentle on the water, you can make multiple casts to rising trout and never put them down. Now if you make a bad cast and the fly line plops on the water with a loud slap, no leader is going to help you.
As I climb out of the canyon, I see a vehicle parked literally 2 feet from mine. There is only one trail from the parking spot to the fishing hole, this means this guy had plans of busting in on me from the beginning. I try not to get preachy about fishing, but guys like this really annoy the heck out of me. They give many of the other decent respectful angers a bad name.
In the end, I have a truly successful day on the water. I will be back soon. I can only hope the fisherman I encountered continued to have a rough day out there… Simply put, he deserved it.
Cutthroat Leader Co.
Cutthroat Leader Co.