Memorial Weekend Fishing.

26 05 2020

Two weeks ago we had snow and overnight freeze warnings.  This weekend we were flirting with record breaking highs.  On top of that central Michigan had a 500 year rain event (though no one knew Michigan existed except for the current residents back then and I doubt any of them had calendars) that caused several dam failures.  Lake front homes now became mud front homes and the lakes are gone.  My local river flooded out as well and several fields were still underwater.  With all that in mind I made my plans and went fishing.

Saturday

Knowing that the river was still blown out I decided to take a walk down to Pte. Mouille and try that area out.  I left early figuring there would be a fair amount of people.  I didn’t leave early enough, by the time I got there (around 7) the parking lot was practically full.  I grabbed my gear and started walking.  I took my G Loomis 6 wt and my Helios 2 7 wt.  The Loomis was rigged up with a floating line and a small nymph for gills.  The 7 had a Pearl Chenille Game Changer tied onto a Sinking line.  I figured I could cast for some Gills with one and Bass with the other.  If I saw any feeding carp I could quickly swap out flies.  Turns out I would never have too.  The water was so dark I couldn’t see any carp, just the occasional small bluegill or bass near the edge.  I made the best of it though and stuck to the game changer fly and blind casted here and there.  I managed a few Bass, no monsters but enough to keep me interested.  It was cool to cast that big white fly and then watch it disappear as a bass hit it.

After a few hours I headed back home checking out the sights and trying not to step on anything.

Lots of these guys around today.

Almost stepped on this little guy.

Around 7:30 pm I packed up the boat and headed to the Detroit River.  The fish that shall not be named had moved in so I took my fly rod along to play with before it got dark.  I used the same Game Changer fly and ended up catching about 30 of them before dark.  Around 9:30 pm I put the fly rod down and broke out the Rapalas.  An hour later I had 6 more walleye in the boat and I was headed for home.

Sunday

Knowing that Pte. Mouille was to dark to see I figured I go and check out The Huron and see just how much the water had gone down.  Water levels had receded some but a few fields were still flooded.  As I was walking along one of them I could see nervous water and signs of life.  Sure enough, several smaller carp were in the field cruising around and looking for breakfast.  I carefully waded in and waited until one got close enough to present my fly.  Eventually one did but I missed the hook set.  That sent him off back to the river along with the few he passed along the way.  I worked my way into the shadows of the trees and waited for another fish to come by.  I figured I could keep myself hidden better in the shade but it also proved to be my downfall.  I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and saw a carp swimming right at me along the bushes.  I carefully dropped the fly a few feet in front of him, waited for him to get close, gave it a twitch and once he picked it up I set the hook. He immediately took off through the bushes and back out into the river.  The leader snapped and that was that.  Now there is a carp swimming somewhere in The Huron River with my fly stuck in his mouth.  After that I left that area and went on to check a local pond.  I had never fished it before but I was curious to see if there were any carp in it.  When I arrived there were a few other people fishing and a lot of walkers and joggers.  I just grabbed the carp rod and starting walking the perimeter.  Much to my delight I started seeing carp cruising just out of range.  I made a few attempts but it was obvious these fish were on high alert from all the foot traffic.  I headed for home and decided I would come back the next morning ahead of the crowds.

Monday

I got up early and headed to the pond first thing.  As I hoped for no one else was there.  I grabbed the Loomis rod and worked my way to the edge of the pond.  I quickly spotted a silt cloud, something I haven’t seen it what has seemed like forever.  I waited until I could figure out which way he was headed.  Once I saw which way he was going I cast my fly past him by about 20 feet and then stripped the fly to his left by about a foot.  As it dropped into his field of view he moved on it and sucked it up.  I set the hook and off he went.  Since this was a pond and no trees or bushes to worry about I just let him run.  He wasn’t a big fish but it was my first one of they year so I was going to enjoy this.  After about 5 minutes I got him into shore, took a quick pic and sent him on his way.

First carp of the year and the first fish on my G Loomis X Pro.

After that I walked the perimeter of the pond again, saw a few fish, spooked most of them, didn’t catch anymore.  They look like they are getting ready to go into spawn mode.  After about an hour I headed back to the car.  I was going to just go home but it was still early so I figured I would head back The Huron and take another crack at that flooded field.  Much to my dismay the water had receded some more and that section of the field wasn’t holding as much water or any fish.  I moved on to another area that I figured might be flooded and sure enough, there were carp swimming around.  Once again I carefully waded in, spotted a lone carp, presented my fly, missed the hook set and sent him back to the river, along with the rest of the fish that were there.  Once they all spooked I walked towards the drainage ditch where they were coming in from.  I leaned up against a tree on the shaded side and waited.  I figured one would coming cruising back in soon.  With all the worms I saw on the paved trails I figured the carp were in the field feeding on them.  I switched flies to a black hybrid carp fly with a red chenille tail.  About 5 minutes later one lone fish came cruising in.  I placed the fly in his path and once he got close I gave it a twitch.  He figured he had an easy meal and pounced on it.  I set the hook and quickly cut off his escape route to the river.  He turned and headed out towards the field where I could keep him under control.  It was really something to see him speeding through the shallows, throwing a wake as he swam by. After a few minutes of chasing him down I was able to corral him and take a picture.  He swam back the way he came, no worse for wear.

After that I pretty much trashed the whole area so I just packed up and headed for home.  I wasn’t going to complain.  After almost two months of unpredictable weather I finally caught a few carp.  I got all summer to catch more.

 

 

 

 





Another Night, Another Limit.

11 05 2020

My original plan was to go out Sunday evening.  Mother Nature got her panties in a bunch and decided to make Sunday a miserable weather day.  Saturday was going to be my only option so once the wind died down I packed up and headed out.  Pretty much the same story as the rest of my trips.  Started after 9 and slowly picked away at the fish until I got my limit by 10:00 pm.  Fishing was definitely a bit slower tonight but the last two fish made up for it.  I have caught a few doubles this season but this one was a first.  At first I thought it was a bigger fish or a foul hooked one.  Lot’s of weight and not a lot of movement.  As it got closer I shined my headlamp onto the fish and I could see 4 eyes looking back at me.  I had two walleye on the same lure which, in 45 years of walleye fishing, was a first for me.  I flipped both of them in, which closed out my 6 fish limit, and headed for home shortly after that.

Water conditions are still very clear.  I have no idea what the temp is and was surprised to see only 3 other boats pulling wire.  With the way the fishing has been I expected a lot more.  Not that I mind, it’s a lot easier to stay on an active group of fish if I’m not dodging other boats.





May the 4th Trip

8 05 2020

Since I had absolutely nothing better to do, the evening of the 4th, I decided to take a crack at putting another limit in the freezer.  I suppose I could have embraced my inner geek and watched the last Star Wars movie but I figured I had plenty of time.  Especially since the winds weren’t looking very favorable for the remainder of the week.  I arrived at the ramp around 9 pm and started fishing shortly after that.  In the first 5 minutes I had numbers 1 & 2 in the cooler.  I was just getting ready to make my turn back through the same area when I boat came up from behind and beat me to it.  I waited for him to pass and picked up number 3 shortly afterwards.  After another pass number 4 was in the boat.  After I started to set lines my top two leads got tangled, as I was separating them another fish hit my kicker.  I couldn’t do much about it since I had a handful of Rapalas.  I lost him and eventually got everything straightened out and lines in.  A few minutes later I had another fish on and it originally felt like a bigger fish.  It turned out to be another double and they managed to tangle up all my leaders.  After I landed both of them I just wadded the leaders and threw them in the bucket and headed for the dock.  Not bad for 20 minutes of fishing.

I may try again this weekend.  Forecast is looking iffy for the next few days with snow in the forecast for today (5/8).  Hopefully Sunday.





Wash, Rise, Repeat……….Sort of.

4 05 2020

Wen out this past Friday and Saturday and picked up a limit each night.  Not hard to do right now since this time of the year the river is full of 15 to 20 inch post spawn fish that are very hungry.  Only item of note was that getting to those limits were different each night.  Just goes to show how one change in condition can make a big difference.

I was on the water Friday night around 7:30 pm.  I had a bad week and was anxious to get started and de-stress a bit.  I didn’t expect to catch much until dark and considered anything before sunset a bonus.  There was a SW breeze making the water a little bumpy but nothing to get excited about.  It was more of a good “Walleye Chop”.  It didn’t take long before I had the first one in the cooler.  I followed that one up with 3 more before 8:00 pm.  At this rate I figured I’d be done soon but just that quick the wind died down to nothing and so did the fish.  For the next hour I didn’t catch a thing and from what I could see, no one around me was either.  Why walleye shut down like that with a wind change still baffles.  Like many years before this one though once it turned 9:00 pm I picked up the last two in a couple of minutes.  Now it could have been because it was past sunset or I found some active fish or my speed was just right or a multitude of other things but something changed in those couple of minutes.  Just like knowing the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie pop, the world may never know.

The following night I didn’t even hit the water until 8:30 pm.  It had been windy all day and I was waiting for it to die down some before I went out.  West winds around 10-15 mph I can deal with, it’s those 25 mph gusts I don’t want to deal with.  The winds weren’t causing much wave action on the water, it just made boat control a pain.  Still, I set up and started my usual pattern.  My friend Dave was out with his son Brayden and I saw him lose a fish at the side of the boat.  Of course I had to give him some crap for that.  A little while later I had my first one at 8:55 pm.  About 10 minutes later I caught my last 5 fish in a five minute period.  Numbers 3 & 4 were a double that both hit at the same time.  The last fish was the biggest and it managed to tangle up my 40 foot leader.  I just waded it all up in a ball and threw it in the bucket.  Winds were picking up and I wanted to get off the water.  I tracked down Dave to say good night and he told me they had 3.  The next day he told me they finished up their 2 man limit around 10:15 pm.  Again, he didn’t start catching anything until after 9.  The sun must be just low enough that the walleye go into night feeding mode at 9:00 pm.  It’s odd but that pattern repeats itself year after year.  Providing the water is very clear, which it was.

I stayed home Sunday night.  Winds were the same as the night before and I didn’t want to fight them again.  They are supposed to be in the single digits all week so I’ll go out then.  Water temps are in the 50 degree range so those other fish aren’t to far off.  Though we have a couple of frost warnings this week so that may put a damper on their migration.

 





Pandemic Pickerel

27 04 2020

This has been a walleye season that will never be forgotten, unfortunately it won’t be because it was so awesome.  Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the the fact that Michigan was hit hard, a Stay at Home order was issued mid March.  Shortly after that certain outdoor activities, like golf and motorized boating, were banned as well.  As one can imagine it pissed off a lot of people.  So much so that I cut ties with a lot of people I knew.  This ban on boating showed the true colors of some people and just how selfish they are.  I have friends and relatives that are Doctors, Nurses and Pharmacists that are going into work every day to fight this pandemic.  Their lives have been turned upside down more than most and some fishermen have the audacity to cry like a little boy who had his ball taken away.  Like our Governor or not there is no reason to compare her to Hitler, you know, that mass murderer who was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people.  All this because they couldn’t go walleye fishing for a couple of weeks.  Their selfishness made me re-think my association with a lot of fishing groups and I basically cut ties with all of them.  They may say I am over reacting but a lot of these same people were behind the stay safe stay home order until their fishing was taken away.

Needless to say it only lasted a couple of weeks so once the ban was lifted I got my boat ready and headed out last Saturday night.  Most people were off the water by the time I started (7:00 pm) so I had a clear shot to my usual spot.  I set lines and a couple of minutes later I had my first fist of the 2020 season.  For the next hour and a half I picked away at them and by 8:30 pm I was done and headed for home.  My friend Dave was out as well and he was on his 5th fish waiting for #6.  Because of the great hatches we have had the last few years the DNR raised the daily limit to 6 per day.  Currently the population is estimated to be around 116 million walleye.  Next year the estimate is expected to be around 150 million walleye.  I’m going to have a lot of easy fishing for many years to come.

A couple of things of note is that the water was gin clear.  So clear I didn’t expect to catch anything until after dark.  It was overcast though so that helped.  Water temp was around 49 degrees and none of those unmentionable fish were caught.  Only downside was the NE wind that started to pick up as the sun set.  The rest of the week is looking questionable for wind direction and rain so I probably won’t get out again until the weekend.  The way the weather is going I figure I have about two weeks before those other fish show up.  Hopefully by then the local river temps will be up enough to get the carp active.  One can only hope.  The Covid 19 pandemic has thrown our whole lives into dis-array but I’m not going to freak out about not being able to go fishing because of it.  I know people who have been infected and died.  If me staying home can save one life then I will gladly give up fishing for awhile to help prevent the spread.

1st limit of the year.

 

 





Is it Spring yet?

21 01 2020

9:30 am on a Tuesday morning and I’ve pretty much mentally checked out at work.  When I woke up this morning I really wanted to just stay in bed.  It’s not that I hate my job, it’s just that today I wanted to just sleep and do other things.  What exactly I really don’t know.  Last night was Fly Tying night at the Huron River Fishing Association meeting.  I tied the two flies and gave them away to a new member who is just getting started.  I am currently overflowing with flies.  My Carp box is pretty much maxed out.  Even if I fished every day starting in May I couldn’t use them all up.

Same goes for the Steelhead box, or boxes in this case.  My main box I keep in my waterproof sling pack is full.  The three smaller carry boxes I have are full.  The reserve box I have is full.  I could start tying for my Alaska trip but I’ need to wait.  I tied up almost 10 dozen flies for the last trip and I used 12 the whole week.  One of the guides I know told me he is going to start tying in  a couple of weeks and he is going to send me pics of what I should tie.  I probably already have a bunch ready as it is.

Smallmouth box is ready along with the Gill/Trout box.  These boxes are pretty easy to keep topped off since I really don’t fish for these as much.  I could tie up some Mini Game Changers for Smallies but considering how much I fish for them I would probably be better off just buying a few.

I could have sat on the couch and watch TV but I can only take so much of watching guys in New Zealand catching trophy size rainbows in a country I will probably never visit.  Same goes for videos of GT’s crushing flies.

I suppose I’m just getting antsy for the start of a new season.  This winter has been pretty mild with the Great Lakes at only 10 % ice coverage.  If this keeps up it’s gonna be an early walleye run.  This year should be epic with back to back record hatches.  They also increased the creel limit to 6 which was a long time coming.  All the water surrounding the US side of the Detroit River has been at 6 fish for several years.  Didn’t make much sense to keep it at 5.

I’m most excited for fly fishing this year.  Now that I’ve spent so much time learning about the Huron I’m amped up to go after the carp and smallmouth.  Once I figured out the carp thing and started paying more attention I began to spot a lot more fish then when I would just take casual walks along the shoreline.  Recent rains flooded out one area right up to the parking lot.  I couldn’t help but think about how the carp would have been right up to the edge if this was May and not January.

As I type this there is a squirrel eating the buds off the tree outside my office window.  He is probably thinking the same thing I am, when is Spring going to get here?

I hear ya bud, I hear ya.

 

 

 





2019 Review

30 12 2019

Fishing for 2019 ended the same way it started, fishing for Steelhead with no success.  It’s a pattern I was hoping to reverse this year but unfortunately conditions and poor timing prevented it from happening.  I really can’t complain though.  I ticked off a few times from my fishing “to-do” list and explored a few new areas.  One of them being The Clinton River which I fished for the first time this past Saturday.    I was up that way for a family gathering so I took advantage of that and went fishing first.  No Steelhead but I did recover a couple of these funny looking frisbees.

For some reason I decided to keep track of the number times I went fishing this year.  Why, I really don’t know.  I just started keeping track of when I went and what I was fishing for.  I went fishing 80 times over the course of the year. Some may think that’s a lot but my daughter thinks I need to double that in 2020.  I did notice a definite shift in the type of fishing I do the most.  Used to be it was 90% handling for walleye and 10% fly fishing.  For 2019 it flipped.  I only went handlining for walleye 23 times last year and fly fishing 57 times.  Walleye fishing, for me, has turned into grocery shopping more than anything else.  With my biggest consumers gone I don’t have the desire or need to go out as much.  It has become more of a hassle to get the boat out and go as compared to fly fishing, since I always have a rod in the car and plenty of areas to fish close by.  To really drive home how big the shift has become I went fly fishing for carp more than I went walleye fishing.  Even more surprising is that I did most of my carp fishing in September.  Once I figured out how to catch these things my success rate jumped dramatically.  Now I find myself looking for signs of feeding carp.  Even this past weekend I was looking for those tell tale craters in the muck and making a mental note to try that area come Spring.  I have a feeling that I will be chasing “Hillbilly Bonefish” a lot in 2020.

Back in August I was able to add another fish to my “fish caught on a fly rod” list, Cutthroat Trout.  I had a chance to fish the Coeur D’ Alene river in Idaho last August and caught several cutthroat and a few rainbows.  I am hoping I can go back in June to see if I can’t add Bull Trout to my list.

Also got the opportunity to go ‘mousing’ for Browns on the Manistee River back in June.  I’m no stranger to fishing in the dark but this was a completely different experience.  All night long I was literally casting blind because I couldn’t see a thing.  By some miracle I never lost a fly even though I caught dozens of trees throughout the evening.

Well those were the high points for the year.  For 2020 I’m planning on going back to Alaska to fish the Naknek River north of King Salmon for Giant Rainbows.  I’ll be in the Brooks Falls area so a stop by their may be in order to watch the bears do bear things.  That’s not until September though so I have plenty of time to plan.  Right now I’m thinking about Spring and trying out the new fly rod my kids got me for Christmas.  A G Loomis IMX Pro 9′ 6wt.  This is going to be my Summer Lower Huron Bass/Carp rod and I’m itching to try it out.

Have a great New Year everyone.





Labor Day Weekend 2019

3 09 2019

I was able to get out a couple of times this past Labor Day weekend.  Walleye on Friday night and fly fishing for Carp Monday morning.  I probably should have gone walleye fishing each evening but I figured the weeds would be really bad with it being the non official last boating weekend of summer.  From here on in it should be pretty quiet on the water, except for the occasional storm.

I launched my boat around 8:30 pm Friday night and headed to my normal starting area.  The water was clear and their weren’t very many surface weeds.  Boat traffic was at a minimum and after sunset I was the only one fishing.  I though for sure there would have been a few others out, shows how much I know.  Not much happened at first.  I lost a few larger fish and caught a couple of smallmouth.  The fish were barely hitting, I would pull the wire forward and then there would be dead weight.  This went on for the first 90 minutes.  I managed to get tangled up in some old fishing line twice and the weeds were starting to thicken up.  I seriously debated just going in but it had been 3 years since the last time I got skunked and I wanted to keep that streak going.  I’m glad I stuck it out, around 10 the fish got active and I picked up my 5 fish limit in about an hour.  After that I packed up and headed for home.

 

When I went to bed Sunday I had every intention of sleeping in the next day.  I spent the last two days cleaning up and throwing out stuff from my house and I was tired.  I awoke around 6:30 am and eventually just gave up and got out of bed.  I figured I would try for landing a carp again at some new water.  My luck fly fishing for carp this year had been pretty poor so I wasn’t to optimistic.  I rigged my my Scott Flex 8 wt and headed to the Huron River.  At my first stop I soon found out that the water levels were up some and it was a little stained.  I started to feel a little better about my chances.  I saw a few fish out in the middle of the river and I made a few half ass casts towards them.  Past experience has told me that if they aren’t actively feeding my chance of hooking up was slim and nill.  After awhile I gave up on those fish and worked my way upstream.  I saw some bubbles on the surface underneath the shade of an overhanging tree.  I went into stealth mode and as I got closer I could see a pair of carp feeding in the shallows.  I carefully dropped the fly next to them and waited for one to turn my way.  After a few seconds the larger fish did and I gave the fly a twitch.  That did it and he pounced on it.  I set the hook and off he went, towards a log jam.  I jumped in the water after him and tried to steer him away.  Fortunately I was able to keep him clear of the logs and after a few minutes I landed him on the bank.  A quick pic and he was soon swimming away.

Like I said, I jumped in.

After that I took a moment to compose myself.  My Ross reel got dunked and was full of muck so I had to clean that out.  I sat at a nearby picnic table while I figured out my next move.  I pretty much trashed this area and two kayakers just paddled down so that meant they spooked anything upstream.  After about 20 minutes I started hiking upstream to new water.  I followed a drainage ditch to the river and carefully worked my way up to the edge of the water.  Apparently I wasn’t careful enough because I spooked two fish that were in the area.  I slowly backed out and figured I would come back in about 30 minutes or so.  I tried some more areas but I didn’t see anything.  I walked back to the area I spooked the pair of fish earlier and worked my way to the edge again.  I could see a silt cloud in the water so I just waited until I could verify where the fish was.  After a minute or so the tail became visible and I could make out the outline of a decent size carp.  He started to turn away from me and then up went his tail and he went into full on feed mode.  A cloud of muck arose all around him so I took advantage of his blurred vision and moved into position.  I dropped the fly about 6 inches to the left and waited.  He started to turn towards it and when I gave it a twitch he pounced on it like a cat chasing a laser dot.  A quick hook set and off he went.  Once again I was back in the water, doing my best to keep him clear of any obstructions.  He ran underneath one sunken branch which I had to clear out of the way before I could even think about landing him.  Eventually I was able to steer him towards the middle of the river where I could keep him under control.  A few short runs later and I was steering him towards the bank.

I was 2 for 2 and feeling pretty good.  It was getting later in the morning though and the sun was clearing the trees.  The fish were hanging in the shadows on the opposite side now so my chances of landing another one were dwindling.  I drove to another section of the river and saw some more carp but they weren’t very cooperative.  I did see one closer to the bank but there was no way I could sneak up on him.  He was in the middle of a log jam anyways so I doubt I could have even got him out of there if I had hooked him.  Bikers and runners were starting to fill the trails along the river so it was time for me to go home.  I’ll stop by next weekend before I head to Schultz Outfitters Fall Kick Off on Saturday.

 





7/20/19 Walleye

24 07 2019

Went out.

Caught five.

Came In.

The End.





Squeak

10 06 2019

Back when I was a wee little fly tier I used to tie deer hair mice for one gentleman.  Every year he would go on a trip to the AuSable, with some of his friends, to go fishing for Brown Trout at night.  I would tie him up 2 dozen mice and 2 dozen Houghton Lake Specials.  One year, he invited my Father and I to tag along but unfortunately we were unable to make it.  I was always intrigued about this type of fishing but never got the opportunity until this past weekend.  My guide in Alaska, Tim Schut, told me he was going to back in Michigan for a few months before he went back to Alaska.  After working through our conflicting schedules we were able to arrange an evening that worked for both of us.  I met him at our take out point on the Upper Manistee around 6:30 pm.  I wondered why we were meeting so early since ‘mousing” was done during the dark of the night.  He told me we would park the boat downstream and wait to see if we would get any type of an insect hatch.  That and eat dinner.  Dinner was great (grilled steak and asparagus) but a hatch never really materialized.  Tim said most of the Spring had like this.  Light hatches and when they do happen the insects fly into the trees instead of spinning out and landing on the water.  We only saw a few trout rise and most of them were small.  No big deal, that wasn’t why I was here anyways.

Around 10:00 pm we started downstream and started fishing.  Tim would tell me which side of the river to cast too and slowly retrieve the mouse pattern across the water to create a wake.  He told me to let the current swing the fly downstream and across and make long, steady retrieves to keep it moving.  Seems simple enough except that I couldn’t see the shoreline and I had no idea if I was making a wake or not.  The only time I could see was when there would be a reflection on the water from the light of an occasional cabin.  Tim had also told me that no matter how close I think the trees are to add 3 more feet.  The closer I could get the mouse to the shoreline the better.  He also said don’t worry about hooking the trees, it’s gonna happen.  If I’m not catching the trees it’s obvious I’m not landing the mouse close enough to the bank.  With all that in mind we went about our business, for 3 hours.

Cast, plop, drift, retrieve, cast again, catch tree, retrieve fly, cast again, swat mosquito, catch tree behind me, retrieve fly, stare at the stars, question my sanity, cast, plop, drift, retrieve, repeat.

This was the bulk of the evening.  I got to hand it to Tim though, he was doing his best to keep me positive.  If I was doing something wrong with my cast he would help me correct it and made sure I was casting in the right direction.  After a few hours I was starting to get frustrated because I was convinced I was doing something wrong.  Tim assured me I wasn’t.  He said it is going to happen, we just need to find a hungry fish.  He compared it to Spey fishing for Steelhead.  He said there are a lot of fish in the water, we are trying to find the one with the attitude.  Around 1:00 am the sliver of the moon set below the horizon and then it got really dark.  Tim switched out the fly to a jointed rabbit fur mouse of his own design.  It makes a very distinctive sound when it hits the water.  Also, he tied a pair of dumbbell eyes to the back of the hook to get the tail end to sink a little.  That did the trick because about 15 minutes later it happened.  I heard the splash, felt the weight and did nothing.  That’s right, nothing.  The one thing I have read over and over is that when a Brown hits a mouse, never set the hook until the weight of the fish is felt.  Tim stressed this as well.  When I hear a splash and I think a fish hit, DO NOTHING!!   A Brown trout will swim up and strike a mouse to kill it and then swing back around to finish it off, much like a shark will with live prey.  He told me that many people lose the fish because when they feel the hit they do the straight up Orvis hook set and send the fly into the trees.  If a fish hits and misses he will come back around.  Tim had told me of instances where he had a Brown hit the same mouse multiple times before he was finally hooked up.  Relax and wait, easier said than done but I did it and once I felt the fish turn and the weight on the rod I pulled back on the rod, across my body and parallel to the river.  FISH ON!

I almost lost this one.  I was so startled that the line slipped through my fingers as I was trying to strip him in.  I was able to keep a bend in the rod and the pressure on and about a minute later he was in the net.  My first Brown on a fly, my first Brown on a Mouse and my first Brown over 20 inches.  To say I was happy would be an understatement.  After a few pics we sent him on his away and got back to business.  I was feeling a lot better now and Tim made sure I didn’t get ahead of myself.  He reminded me not to get twitchy and remember to DO NOTHING!  I firmly believe this is where Spey fishing and Handlining so much benefits me.  When jigging or casting a lure, the second I feel anything I set the hook.  With handlining, once I feel a fish I wait for him to get those initial headshakes out of the way.  With Spey fishing I wait until the fish takes the fly and turns away.  I’ve been able to condition myself to not get so crazy with the hook set.  I still get a little twitchy from time to time but for the most part I can take it easy.  So much so that on the next fish I never even knew he took a swipe at the fly.  There was splash in front of me and Tim asked if I had a hit.  I told him I didn’t feel anything but he was convinced a fish had taken a swipe at my fly and missed.  I told him I didn’t even hear it and it was right then that he hit it again.  This time though he didn’t miss and he immediately went airborne.  Tim got the light on him so we could watch his aerobatic display. He was smaller then the first fish but he was definitely a lot more active.

It still amazes me how the same species of fish can have suck drastic differences in their spots.

After that not much happened.  The temperature was starting to drop and by 2:30 am there was fog on the water.  Tim told me trying to catch fish when the fog is out is damn near impossible.  I made a few more casts but nothing happened so around 3 we pushed on to the pull out point.  That last mile Tim kept his headlamp on so he could maneuver the river (how he was able to in the dark was beyond me) and show me the fish we would spook.  I probably saw about a dozen Browns in the 20 inch range cruising around in the shallow water.  I was told that this section held some big fish but I always doubted it.  Not anymore.

All in all it was a good night.  Mosquitoes weren’t a problem.  Caught my first and biggest brown trout to date.  I didn’t bury a hook in the back of my head but at one point I did bounce the fly off my hat.  Only bad part now was the drive home on no sleep.  Next time I’m bringing my camper and taking a nap before I head home.  Driving home on deer infested roads with no sleep is a dangerous combination.  Speaking of deer, they make a lot of noise running through the water at 2:00 am.  So do bears, we think we spooked one when we came around one bend.  We could just make out the silhouette of a lone tree shaking back and forth.  As we got closer we heard of lot of crashing as whatever it was ran off.  So it was either a bear or Bigfoot.  Didn’t hear any tree knocks so I’m sticking with a bear.

I’m going to be up this away again the last weekend of June.  I won’t be wading this area at night, it is way to dangerous to do since I don’t know the river.  I might wade in at a few of the access points and try a few casts but nothing to extreme.  I’m kind of hoping the Hex hatch is going on.  Never fished during one but I have heard it is insane.

We shall see.