Those of you old enough to remember the classic 1960s series on prime time — or young enough to know it through syndication — are familiar with the show’s schlocky fight sequences, complete with comic-book graphics: BAM! POW! OOOFF! Hold that thought for a moment, please.
I got to the river at 6pm last night, and I quickly learned two things. One, one of my favorite wet fly runs that might produce one or two fish in the daytime is infested with feeding trout in the evening. And two, I can enjoy it in glorious solitude. Save for the cedar waxwings.
To the hatch: sulphurs (16-18), caddis (16-18), Isonychia (10-12), and BWOs (18). Midges, of course. Then a tremendous sulphur spinner fall at dark. Feeding came in waves; seemingly long periods of nothing followed by five minutes of boiling water. Every fish I took was an active feeder.
Back to Batman. Remember my last report of fish rising to my flies and coming away with nothing? Not last night. These were some of the most aggressive rises I’ve seen in a while. Acts of pure hostility that kept me delighted beyond measure. Many of the trout were fat, mid-teens rainbows. One was the smallest wild brown I’ve caught on the Farmington. Another was its polar opposite. This guy absolutely murdered my size 16 Magic Fly. One tremendous leap, then the fish tore downstream like he was late for a job interview. My cane rod is outfitted with a click-and-pawl reel — there’s no rim to palm — so the only drag is my fingers on the line. I applied pressure at the end of his second run, then (to borrow from Batman) PLOINK! Popped the tippet. Now, 6x Frog Hair paired with the forgiveness of cane should be able to handle most Farmington trout. I have no doubt that the loss was a result of compromised material — or the misfortune of nylon wrapped around fin. I fantasized about re-catching him and getting my fly back, but I knew that would be an unrealized dream.
A closer look at this bruiser’s mouth reveals that this isn’t his debut with a hook.
What the Isonychia hatch lacked in numbers, it made up for with gorging trout. It was very much like a good Hendrickson hatch, with dozens of reckless fish lacerating the surface with showy takes.
Between 8pm and about quarter past, the pool was strangely quiet. I had just made the decision to move to another spot downstream when the spinner fall commenced. I moved into some water with a smoother surface, and had at a multitude that were still taking emergers and gently sipping. I stuck my last brown at 9:15pm, when I could no longer see the fly.
All I could say was, WOW!
Excuse me sir, but is that a Pale Watery wingless wet in your mouth?
Notes: Flies I caught trout on: size 16 Pale Watery wingless wet, size 16 creamy Usual, size 12 grey Usual, size 10 Isonychia Comparadun, size 18 and size 12 Light Cahill Catskills dry.
Jefferson, a former wet fly student, made this report from the permanent C&R section: I had an excellent evening. I was fishing wet blue wing olives, size 12 and size 16. Everyone else thought the fish were hitting sulphur spinners (cus it was evening and it was sulphur season, perhaps?) One of the beauties of fishing wet right at dark is that one doesn’t have to obsessively try to see the fly on the darkening water. All you have to do is watch the line and have a general idea of where the fly is.