June 22. 2015
June 22, 2015:
Callibaetis mayflies and White Miller Caddis continue to make their daily appearance all over the Double Ranch with some Baetis and the occasional PMD and damsel fly.
On The Pond, the Callibaetis hatch remains a daily event, with the limiting factor being the wind if present. We are seeing both spinners and duns, so come well supplied with nymph, emerger, dun and spinner patterns. Also keep an eye out for Pale Morning Duns and Baetis. Some days the action starts at 9:30 a.m. and lasts until mid-afternoon. The hatch and rising trout can be found on both the North Channel and the South Channel so there is plenty of room for everyone. It has been my experience that the large trout are hugging the banks of the newly constructed islands which line both channels.
By 7:00 a.m. each morning out in the field water you will encounter clouds of White Miller Caddis hovering over the creek and the clouds thicken as the morning progresses. Most anglers have difficulty attracting trout with dry caddis patterns and I confess to having the same problem. I usually elect to swim a Pheasant Tail soft hackle under the caddis cloud, particularly if I observe swirling trout.
This past weekend Callibaetis could be found all over the field water in “Three Bears Quantities,” i.e. not too many, not too few . . . just right. It is prudent to be in the water by 8:30 a.m., which is about when you’ll start to see Callibaetis spinners. I scored well on Saturday morning right off the bat with my #14 Callibaetis Hatch Matcher. Although I saw some spinners, it might have been that the trout were taking the Hatch Matcher for the White Millers which occasionally dap on the surface. But, later there was an intermittent hatch of Callibaetis Duns. All kinds of Callibaetis patterns worked, including emergers, cripples, duns, no hackles and spinners. I had the most exciting action on standard spinner patterns and, of course, my Hatch Matcher. The action usually ends by early afternoon, but that could change next weekend when the forecast calls for temperatures over 100 degrees.
Think about taking an after dinner “cigar float” these days as the White Miller clouds resume in the evening, right up to dusk. I’ve seen trout rising and jumping under the caddis clouds all over the field water, from the Gazebo Bridge all the way down to Beat #1. Cast a #14 Pheasant Tail soft hackle (or something similar) towards the opposite bank and swim it back across the creek.
I read an interesting article in and old issue of Fly Fishing & Tying Journal, authored by Dave Hughes. The concept underlying the article was his long standing intention to visit a favorite lake without flies, packing only his vise, tools and thread. His plan was to scrounge up tying materials found on site such as bird feathers, animal fur and the like. Hughes calls the resulting insect imitations “Found Flies.” Of course, the article closes with descriptions of the flies he tied out of goose feathers and the trout he snookered using them. He indicates that this approach to fly angling has become popular in Europe, the continent which brought us bottle water, several world wars and burdensome tax structures. Dave, I have loved and respected your work over the years but these days you might lay off the John Barleycorn a wee bit.
Anyway, this hunter-gatherer approach to fly tying has consumed my idle thoughts over the past week and has affected the way I react to Death in Nature. Now when I see a mouse or vole carcass streamside my thoughts turn to dubbing a BWO nymph. When I see a deer romping through the willows I envision its flank hair fashioned into Comparaduns. I increasingly covet Great Blue Herons for their feathers which I imagine would make great spey flies. I begin to think that by ignoring the lowly Coot as a source of soft hackles we are missing the boat. I kick myself for not gathering bear underfur from “scratching trees” and incorporating it into Stonefly dubbing. I wonder what I gems I could tie if I could just find a carcass of an American Bittern which I see and hear often on the Ranch water. I look upon the Purdys’ sheep in a new light.
While the concept of Found Flies intrigues me, there are several reasons why I am not likely to take up the challenge. First, I’d never bring materials gathered in the wild back to my trailer because I probably have $20,000worth of fly tying materials and fear an invasion of the little bugs that can strip a fine rooster neck, bags of saddle hackles and fur. Second, one needs to recognize the possibility of contracting flu strains from wild birds and other diseases from animals such as Hanta Virus. Third, I am too damn lazy.