I have to confess there are times when I am completely flummoxed by this river and its residents. Like last night.
I arrived on the upper TMA at 5:45pm, committed to the dry fly cause, cane rod and 14-foot leader ready. Here’s what I was dealing with over the next couple hours: trout feeding on caddis emergers. Trout rising delicately to something very small. Trout slashing violently on the surface, breaking the film and leaving an air bubble. Trout taking sulphur and March Brown duns off the top. All of it rather haphazard, with no consistency to the rise forms or even with specific fish feeding. In one thirty second period, five fish would rise. Then nothing for the next fifteen minutes. Random would be a good word.
So I took a kitchen sink approach to fly selection. Small Magic Fly. Big Cahills. Small Cahills. Small caddis emergers. Small ants. All I had to show for it was a bunch of refusals and a JV Salmon on the Magic Fly. So I made a plan: as darkness fell, the trout would get sloppy. A size 12 Light Cahill would do the trick.
And that’s how I managed to cross paths with this handsome fellow, a wild brown in the high teens who gave me a thrilling battle on the click-and-pawl South Bend:
I stuck a few more of his friends even after it was too dark to see the fly. Then celebrated with a cheeseburger from Five Guys.
River notes: upper TMA 475 cfs. Golden stones (about a size 14) came out at nightfall. Water running cool and clear.