June 11, 2015
June 11, 2015:
I’m starting to notice a number of indicators which may foreshadow that we are about to enter a period of normalcy in terms of the aquatic insects that we usually see in June. When I rise and look out my trailer door each morning around 7:00 a.m., I am seeing clouds of White Miller Caddis hovering over the water surface behind my trailer. I’ve not yet seen the occasional fish jumping out of the water or swirling subsurface under the clouds, but that will come soon. I’ve observed an increasing amount of adult blue damsel flies flying over the water including right below the Gazebo Bridge and on The Pond. Each morning there has been a sparse hatch of Tiny Blue Winged Olives out in the field water and on The Pond, and I’ve noticed some BWO spinners late afternoon and in the evening. I’m convinced that consistent hatches of interest to the trout are just around the corner if this warm sunny weather persists. Keep the faith!
Meanwhile, the strong hatch of Callibaetis continues to make its daily appearance on The Pond around Noon. The Callibaetis are also present in smaller numbers below the Gazebo Bridge.
ON MISSIONARY POSITION FLY FISHERS.
Most of us know at least one fly fisherman who will only tie on dry flies and cast to rising trout. Some of “Them” will only cast to rising trout. Some of Them will only cast in an upstream direction. Some of Them will only cast to individual rising fish. Some of them will only fish Dun patterns, eschewing cripples, emergers or even Knock Down Duns. Some of Them aren’t even English, or of aristocratic lineage. Some of you are Them. Some of you aren’t Them but have Them angler friends whom you perceive to be a bit snooty. And, you can’t understand how a fly fisherman would rather not catch fish, or even cast a line, if a dry fly is not attached to his leader. You feel the whole thing puts too much pressure on taking a friend out on your favorite productive water. You’ve tried to communicate the joy of hooking large territorial Brown trout on streamers, large soft hackles and other “meaty” flies. You don’t know what to think of Them, or how to deal with Them on a consistent basis.
I call them Missionary Position Fly Fishers, because they only fish On Top.
Hey, I’m not one of Them but I’ve known or run into my fair share of Them. I used to be somewhat intolerant of Them, but have now found Peace.
At the end of productive morning on the Henry’s Fork I asked a guy at the Last Chance access how his day had been. With a deep frown he told me that he had not made a single cast because “there were no Risers.”I ran into him the next day around Noon and he related the same experience, appearing a bit more disappointed than the previous day. On the third day he was elated, having cast to three fish, albeit without a hook up.
The next year at the Wood Road access on the Henry’s Fork I approached the boat ramp in my float tube and came upon a half dozen dudes from Japan, all standing on the bank obviously on the lookout for rising fish. I wanted to fish the usually productive water in front of them but didn’t want to cause an international incident, so I just left the river. I made the same float the next morning and came upon the same contingent engaged in the same observation mode with fly in keeper. After sitting in my tube for a half hour enjoying lunch and a cigar, I decided to push the tube out past what I felt was reasonable casting range and fished my Who Knows Freaking Why soft hackle further out into the Henry’s Fork, landing a half dozen spirited Henry’s Fork rainbows in 20 minutes. I heard one guy remark to his companions that I was a very good fly fisher. As walked past them back to my shuttle car I asked in my broken Japanese whether they wanted to see the fly I had been using. As they eagerly approached me I was thinking that this could be the start of a bond, then, one of them appeared disappointed and said to me, “Wetto fry.” I felt like I had been caught fishing a nymph downstream on an historic English caulk stream not wearing Tweed.
Perhaps my most Immaculate Deception was conversing with recently deceased Bob Evans who fished the Henry’s Fork more than a hundred days a season, but only with the Dry Fly. Bob was a great mentor to dozens (perhaps hundreds) of developing anglers over the years, taught me a lot and gave me numerous shuttles in return for one of my home baked pies. But, he was rumored to break off all communication if he found out that you fished the Dreaded Nymph. Bob died without discovering my affinity for fishing soft hackles subsurface (sometimes in front of working fish and sometimes, even worse, fishing them blind!) One of my deepest regrets is having deceived such a fine person (even more so than lying to my ex-wife when it was occasionally necessary to explain my late returns from fishing trips).
My best friend in these parts is one of Them; he will only cast dry flies to individual working fish and will not run a dry fly through a pod of fish, even during a Trico hatch. Over the years we’ve had a number of spirited discussions about what I refer to as his “problem.” We’ve long past the Pedestrian and have elevated the debate to a more lofty search for Truth and a focus on Entomological Integrity. I’ve taken the postulated that the selection of a fly which does not imitate the current stage of the insect being preyed upon by the trout is wholly lacking Integrity. (It was relatively easy for us to come to this fundamental understanding because we both disdain “attracter” dry flies.) I have pointed out that many anglers incorrectly assume that the “ring in the rise” is always made by a trout taking a dun, or at least cripple or emerging dun in the film. At the early stage of the hatch the rise form is often a swirl made by a trout nipping away at nymphs well under the meniscus. From this I have urged my good friend that fishing a dry pattern to trout swirling for the nymphal stage of mayflies involves no more Integrity than blindly swinging a soft hackle under hovering clouds of White Miller Caddis or, even worse, blind. I convinced my friend that fishing a Pheasant Tail soft hackle to fish swirling for PMD nymphs might very well be using a proper imitation of a specific stage of the insect, provided that the presentation was in harmony with the situation and gave him a selection of small soft hackles which he used with success, once.
The ungainly debate between us rages on, although we become less passionate about The Controversy as seasons come and go. In the course of these discussions I have learned a lot from my friend, and a lot about my good friend, both about angling and about Life. While most of us arrive at the juncture where it is not the landing of fish which is important and we are more focused on mere hooking of trout by whatever means possible, my friend has attained a rare purity of satisfaction which comes from hooking a solitary trout on a fly he can see. While it is either not for me, or I am evolving at a snail’s pace, I respect his Quest and his Arrival. We should all respect Missionary Position Fly Fishermen, even if their stated preference may not involve my friend’s Zen principles. After all, it’s just fishing.