On August 18th, I had one angler at DePuy's. He had necessity skills and was equipped with appropriate gears for spring-creek fishing and most importantly willing to learn and work hard!! Based on information from my trusted sources and my own scouting, I had a basic scheme and schedule of the day.
Meet at 8:00AM
Fishing for midge hatches from 8:30AM till whenever it ends (1 hour or longer)
Expecting PMD hatches from 11 to 11:30AM till 1PM (give or take)
Fishing with terrestrials (hoppers, ants, beetles, and crickets) most of afternoon
Fishing for Sulphur Mayfly hatch from 5 to 5:30PM till 6:30PM
We might see another midge hatch & rising trout till we call for the day
Now don't get me wrong. I know things don't always go as we plan. What if it rains? What if winds blow so hard? etc............you may ask........ I remain flexible and analyze my situation then I will re-plan and re-schedule. Then again, hatches in spring creeks tend to be consistent most of time. Besides, right now, I can predict Livingston weather as well as professionals.
For the first thing in the morning, my agenda was proven right! We saw midge-rising trout and started working. It was very tough (I would add "already from the morning" as I recalled at the end of the day......) but with my suggested flies (soft-hackle patterns!!), my client got into a couple of trout!
As the morning went by, we started to see more constant risers. I didn't assume but positively judged "PMD hatch!!" So I tied on PMD patterns for my client. However we saw a few looking-ups and that was all.........yet trout kept rising on something......... I seined both way above and way below from rising trout, so I didn't disturb them, and all I collected was size 24 or even size 26 midges!! I doubted my eyes and seined again and again. Although there a very few small gray mayfly and black caddis mixed up every now and then, majority were tiny midges. Then clearly to our eyes, we didn't see anything big enough such as PMD, BWO, Caddis, etc., on the surface. It had to be midges that trout were feeding on so constantly and eagerly.
So I abandoned my PMD agenda and adjusted my tactics and mind-set for midge fishing. Then next amazing occurrence was trout wouldn't stop feeding on midges till 1:30pm and even after. We had to eat lunch, not just because we were hungry but also we needed relax and re-focus. We were back at the same spot after 2PM and trout were still feeding on the same small midges!! (I seined again!!).
Besides midge patterns, I mixed up a couple of most trusted and best ant patterns, but ants were totally ignored!! Several actions we had were on midge patterns!! It seemed rising actions were slightly slowed down so we moved to the different section of creek for terrestrial fishing. However, since we worked on those midge-rising trout after lunch, we sacrificed the prime terrestrial time (2 to 4pm, mostly). We took some breaths, stretched our bodies, and came back to the same spot where we had been working. Now I expected to see some Sulphur hatches. Indeed Sulphur did hatch, though not super strong!! I seined this individual just coming out of nymph-shuck on my seine!!
However, trout wouldn't be interested in Sulphur at all......... As evening deepened, there were more rising trout, well......., on the same old tiny midges!! We ended up working very hard till real dark. My client was working very hard all day with tiny flies. Finally he got fatigued and called for the day around 7:30pm.......Trout were still rising................
So basically trout were feeding on ONLY & EXCLUSIVELY the tiniest species of midges in the creek ALL DAY LONG.
What's so remarkable of this experience is our preconception and expectation, even deep knowledge and scientifically proven facts, can mean nothing for trout in the spring creek.
- PMD, Sulphur, caddis were "SUPPOSED TO BE" hatching (YES THEY WERE), so trout were "SUPPOSED TO BE" feeding on them (NO THEY WEREN'T).
- Besides aquatic insects, trout were "SUPPOSED TO BE" looking up for terrestrials, weren't they? - NO THEY WEREN'T.
- Over all, trout were "SUPPOSED TO BE" looking for foods worth enough for them to swim up to surface.
- So they were "SUPPOSED TO BE" choosing PMD, Sulphur, caddis, ants, beetles, and hoppers (if they are present - and they were) over tiny midges, weren't they? - NO THEY WEREN'T.
Why did trout keep feeding on tiny midges when other bigger meals were available? - We really have to interview trout that can speak some sort of human languages.
It was indeed a frustrating and nervous-twitching experience for my client and I but I don't consider this as a defeat. Although I wasn't perfectly prepared, I could still decipher the puzzle one by one. I figured sparsely tied size 22 flies of mine were effectively taken. In my counting and observation, patterns didn't really matter but presentations and drifts did.
We both worked hard with great concentration. We both learned a lot from the creek, bugs, and trout. Over all we experienced surface actions all day!
Casting accuracy, angle of presentation, and how to set hook and fight fish with tiny flies are lessons my clients take home.
Lessons for me are to instruct those matters to my clients more effectively and to be prepared for some advanced fishing situations, like this, at spring creeks in near futures!!
It was another Master Class Lesson at DePuy's. Very selectively feeding trout and focus on tiny flies are very hard to accept (always!!) but I'm very content with what we went through.
Accumulating knowledge for fly-fishing, fly patterns, and trout is a good thing. Planning the day and tactics based on them is an important step for successful fishing (especially if one considers himself a guide!!). But what would you do when the day (or things) wouldn't go as smooth as you would plan? Would you be at a loss mentally and get frustrated? Or analyze and observe then re-think and re-plan?
I'm ready for the next one...........