Ask the Wild Guy
by George Visger, "The Wild Guy"
Hey Wild Guy —am an avid fly fisherman and love to stream fish our trout properties up north. Recently I decided to fly fish one of the ponds on the property as a nice hatch of Mayflies started coming off just before dark. Fish were rising all around me, but I couldn’t buy a bite. I have always done well on the stream, and even went to a 7x tippet thinking with the still water my leader was spooking the fish. I had the hatch matched perfectly but never had a hit. What’s up
Wild Guy — Ah, those of us who love to torture ourselves with the fly gear have all been in the same predicament at one time or another. Perfect conditions, you matched the hatch, casts are lying out beautifully but you still get skunked. Just when you think you’re an expert a simple fish with 40 brain cells humbles you.
This brings to mind a similar trip I experienced several years back at Lake Margaret. A nice hatch of Ephemoroptera was coming off the lake in the evening, and I had it matched perfectly. Try as I might, I couldn’t buy a hit till I settled down and just watched for a while. This was tough to do with fish rising all around me and the sun rapidly melting away. What I thought were fish feeding on adult Mayflies at the surface were actually fish taking emergers just under the surface. The splashes were actually boils caused by their tails as they darted back down to the depths.
Once I figured this out, I slapped on an appropriate sized nymph and greased my tippet to within 4” of the fly. I used a quick retrieve just under the surface and had the time of my life. As night’s dark curtain descended on my stage, my fear of snagging one of the many Little Brown Myotis swirling around me with a back cast sent me hustling back to camp. Trying to unhook a bat in the dark is not my idea of a fun evening. Been there, done that.
Trout are usually not that hyper selective but, at those rare times, it is beneficial to understand their food source. Flying invertebrates with aquatic life cycles usually begin life as nymphs on the bottom. To breed they must get to the surface, split their skin and emerge as an adult, which requires running a gauntlet of hungry fish. To do so requires they have the ability to swim quickly, thus a quick retrieve with an emerging nymph was the ticket.
Those who seem to be luckier or more successful than others usually put more into their endeavors. Take the time to do a little studying before your next trip and you may be surprised at what you have been missing.