All content © Robert Williamson

All content © Robert Williamson

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Hundreds of hoppers flushed out in front of me as I walked through the grasses near the river's edge. Each step produced another wave of airborn kickers. The trout do not receive pressure. This is water very few others want to fish. It's too small. The fishing is hard, even though the trout are easy. No cloddish mortal walking right up to the bank or flogging a rod and line through the air without first thinking is going to have much success. It's a hunter's game. Stalking. Sneaking. Casts are short and pinpointed. Snagging bankside growth the norm.

I learned a few lessons. Maybe I'm thinking more? The grass is tall waist high at least and sometimes up to the arm pits. It grows right to the creek bank and in areas overhangs into the water. It is hard to make a normal cast where your line lands on the water and you pick up slack as the fly and line float downstream toward you. Most casts are made with the line laying in the grass and just the leader and fly plopping into the water. Sometimes, the cast is more of a dapping proposition. Sometimes, just the fly and a couple feet of leader actually hit the water. Throw away all that long cast nonsense you learned at the latest sportsmen's expo. If you have more than about fifteen feet of line out, you're out of control.

If you move slow and use the willows, you can sneak enough to see the trout before you cast to them. This is very visual. The water is low and clear and spotting the trout is very easy. Spook one, or two, or three and they race for cover notifying every trout upstream for maybe thirty or forty feet, that something is up.

As the hoppers jumped out in front of me some would fly to the other side of the creek. Others would land in the water and were immediately eaten by trout. This was easy pickings. The rising trout could be caught by casting my hopper imitation to the exact spot it just ate the natural. Was I chumming? I didn't intentionally add the natural hoppers to the water. Or did I? I knew that by walking through the grass with that many hoppers, that some would end up wet, but what could I do to stop them? Nothing! I kept fishing.

When my imitation hit the smooth, slow water, several concentric rings of disturbance would migrate out. Soon a trout would be inhaling the pattern and the battle was on. These were quick fights. A couple thrashing spins, a quick run, and the trout was then lifted out of the water to hand, or if it had some weight, slid up the bank on the grass. Some of the trout were unexpectedly nice and plump for such a small water. If I could not see my fly as it floated near the overhanging grass and undercut bank, I learned to watch for rings of a rise and sometimes the sound of a rise. This was an interesting way to detect a take and actually something the trout had taught me.

Some of the trout I could spot before I cast to them but I would say that over seventy-five percent of the trout I caught by watching for rise rings, listening for a splash, or by watching a trout quickly appear for the take soon after the fly hit the water. One several casts, I was casting to water that had no trout visable. I would cast into the barren water and then watch as a trout would race downstream to the fly, sometimes moving as much as ten feet. This I tried to understand. Did the trout sense the fly with it's lateral line, or did it see the disturbance rings and then come to investigate the source? The trout were not seeing the fly until they had turned and rushed downstream to consider the origin of the disturbance. Most of my dry fly fishing is casting a fly above the trout and letting the current carry the fly into the trout's window. To have trout ten feet upstream, turn and race downstream to a fly was different and fun. My gut feeling was that they could sense through their lateral line, but some it seemed to hesitate and turn to race downstream after the disturbance rings had rippled overhead.

This outing heightened my senses. I felt closer to my quarry. I somehow felt we were on equal terms. Yes, I fooled a few of them with my senses of sight, feel and sound, And, some of them got the best of me with those same senses. I enjoyed the day!


cutthroat stalker said...


Nice brown! The hopper hatch is always fun to fish, yet I haven't been out in the past ten days. I need to get hopping if I'm going to cash in on this year's crop.

Wildnative said...

Thanks. I couldn't believe the numbers of hoppers. Everywhere! I must admit, I felt a little like I was cheating(but not enough to stop). I actually watched hoppers jump in the drink and get eaten right before I cast my imitation in. It was an afternoon of not only fly fishing, but an afternoon of thinking. Going back to work cutting into your fishing time? Haha!

cutthroat stalker said...

Yeah, real work again kinda stinks from a fishing perspective, but a lot of fun in its own right. I teach reading to 6th graders, and trying to figure out why a 6th grader reads like a 3rd grader presents interesting challenges, like trying to figure out if a fish is sipping emergers, egg layers or spinners. I like the fishing rewards a lot, but releasing a kid back into his rightful reading level after gasping for breath when he's out of his element is much more rewarding!

But still, I think I'll head to the Logan or Blacksmith this Friday after school. I should be on the river by 3:20. Plenty of time to chuck a few hoppers around.