It’s almost mid-boggling how a river can go from nothing to boiling in a matter of a couple hours. When I arrived at my mark below the PTMA around 5pm, there were a few haphazard sulphurs, but you’d have been stretching it if you called it a hatch. The surface was dimple-free. That was all good with me, because I knew what was coming. Or at least I thought I did.
There is a distinct meter to most sulphur hatches. This one, as sulphur hatches often do, began slowly. A sip here. A bulge there. Nothing really that would suggest the full-bore frenzy that was to come. I was standing on a gravel bar that drops off into some deeper water, and as the shadows stretched across the surface of the water the fish began to move into feeding lanes. I chose a group of two or three sporadic risers that were about 20 feet downstream. The ignored my mended swing, so I decide to try the Leisenring lift.
The Leisenring lift is one of the most misunderstood presentations in fly fishing. It’s also a challenge with a shorter rod (I was wielding my 7’9″ cane.) To do it correctly, you’ve got to effort the rise of the flies so that it coincides with the exact position of the trout. Even if you do it right, sometimes the fish just won’t have it. But on this day, I had a bump on my first cast. I made the same presentation and felt another bump.
The third time was the charm. The trout struck and set herself. When she rolled, she sounded large. Right away, I could tell this was going to be an adventure on a whippy cane rod.
Whew! I took a short breather and waited for my hands to stop shaking. When I got back into position, I could see that while the hatch was beginning to ramp up, I was in the wrong spot to fish it with wet flies. Most of the good, slashing-at-emergers activity was in the faster water above me, but that real estate was occupied. I didn’t dare move, especially since I knew this small area would be money once the feed turned to surface action. I had no doubt, though, that if I was in a position to fish the faster water, I would have done very well.
The hatch intermission came around 7pm. I took the opportunity to re-rig for dry, warm up my legs, and light a victory cigar. (For those who will want to know, it was an EP Carrillo La Historia E-III.) By 7:30, I was back in position. I reckoned I had a good 75 minutes left to fish. If time does indeed fly, it does so with unmatched alacrity during the waning hour of a sulphur hatch. Depending on the mood of the fish, that hour can be an exercise in frustration and humility or a giddy delight. The fates chose option B for me. Trout rose to my dry flies (The Usual, The Magic Fly, Light Cahill Catskills style) seemingly at my command. During one fortuitous stretch, I stuck a trout on seven consecutive casts. I don’t usually count fish in volume, but I thought tonight that might it might be fun to do so. I was having so much fun, I forgot to keep track after a dozen. The overage was certainly impressive.
As is my SOP, I was the last angler off the water, long after it was practical to have a hope of seeing my fly in the darkness, even if it is a size 12 and white. The last two fish I landed inhaled the fly without any visual clue of the transaction; I knew I was on only after I felt a sharp tug-tug.
You’d think that a writer could come up with a better word for an ending. But sometimes simpler is better, even if it’s unimaginative (or dare I say lazy). So we’ll go all in.
Congratulations on a fantastic day of angling and for painting a verbal picture of it. As far as that rainbow, well simply, wow!
Hi Brian, I’m so happy you liked the piece. I spent a little more time than usual on it, so it’s nice to know that someone enjoyed it! What a wee beastie, that rainbow. Sounded like someone threw a brick into the water when she rolled.
Congratulations on a marvelous outing. One of the things I love about wet and SH fishing – you don’t have to see the fly.
I hear you. But I do think it’s a good idea to know where your flies are during the presentation. It was no accident that I caught that rainbow. Sometimes the Leisenring Lift makes you look really good. Those fish I was catching after dark were all on a size 12 Catskills Light Cahills dry.
really nice, you surprise me all the time, you were fishing just one fly on 4X? or multiple flies on 4X
Hi JB, it wasn’t 4X. It was 4-pound test Maxima Ultragreen, which is basically my default leader material this time of year on my three fly team: https://currentseams.com/2015/08/27/how-to-built-a-wet-fly-leader-for-a-team-of-three-flies/
The fly she took was the point fly; that is, the fly farthest from the fly line. Hope that helps!
I felt like I was there!! Thanks for the report.
See my above comment to Brian. I still think about that afternoon/evening I gave you that lesson. That was a good session. 🙂
Beautiful Fish! Your smile says it all!
I get that a lot. 🙂
I love it when a plan comes together, the stars align, and fishing is far better than expected. Good on you Steve!
I figured it would be good — it’s that crazy time of year — but this was an unexpected extra set of treats.