I feel blessed to live in Central Oregon. Why? Because I live close to my favorite river, the Metolius. I’ve been fortunate to fish this river for almost 50 years. The last couple of weeks, I’ve had opportunities to reflect on the river while waiting for rising trout. I thought I’d share a few stories from my home waters, the Metolius.
Yes, that’s a bamboo rod. I don’t fish it often because I would rather use my Winston BIIX 5 weight rod. But I moved the rod case from the corner of a room recently to get ready for a project and I thought it was about time I take it out and fish it again.
The rod is one my wife surprised me with several years ago for a birthday ending in “0”. We’ll leave it at that.
After receiving my new rod, I was able to meet its maker, Lyle Hand at his workshop.
But back to my story.
Did you ever have one of those days when you’re second guessing how you can catch fish at all? It happened to me recently. I was on the river fishing my bamboo rod. I don’t want to get into numbers, but it was over a handful of trout rising to my flies, significantly more. This doesn’t happen often. If you fish the Metolius, I’m sure you can attest to this!
I had fish rising everywhere, hitting my fly. I couldn’t hook them. What was I doing wrong? Setting the hook too fast? I tried slowing down, but it didn’t work. I hooked up on five, losing two jumpers and breaking off another on the strike before finally landing only two. The first was a 9 incher. Here is the other…
It’s happened to me in the past. Every time it does, I wonder if I should change something in my casting and hooking, but I’ve learned to shake it off and continue to fish normally. But there’s times the fish rise slowly. Sometimes they come up like a rocket with purpose and take your fly or appear to. But they just slap at it. I’ve seen it with naturals as well. Fish miss naturals floating down on the water. They rise, miss the fly, and quickly turn to come back and eat the bug. It’s quite the sight.
Ever hooked your fly in a tree behind you? I think I know the answer.
It happens to me as well. Being able to fish so much, I’ve learned where I can cast and how much line to carry behind me. How did I learn that? Well, I’ve lost a fly or two!
There’s a tree I’ve hooked in the last week or so. Truth be told, more than once. My wife, dancingtrout has been there as well.
The other day, it was her turn to snag the tree behind her. I told her I’d get the fly for her. I knew the way!
While I quickly retrieved the fly, I noticed some tippet on a branch. I thought it might be mine from a few days ago. Nope. I pulled the fly and short tippet from the tree and returned it to it’s rightful owner…my wife. She had lost it a short time earlier. Isn’t it amazing how you can focus on the tree and never see your fly with three feet of tippet (that’s what I lost)?
Over an hour later, I returned to where we had been fishing and you guessed it, I hooked the tree. I climbed the bank and my fly was caught on a piece of tippet. I think you might know where this is going.
It wasn’t mine. Again, I retrieved one of my wife’s flies, which she gracefully accepted.
This experience doesn’t happen often, but it does repeat itself.
It’s like retrieving your fly from a fish you broke off. Yes, it does happen! But that’s a story for a different day.
I was in the river yesterday after landing a nice Rainbow and decided to pull out my insect seine. It’s really a mesh paint strainer bag (Amazon affiliate link) that easily fits over my net. I place it a little submerged upstream and wait for insects to float down the river. It’s an excellent method to determine what insects are available to trout.
Most of what was in the net were a couple different sizes of olive stoneflies. There were 18’s, 16’s, and one 12. I call the last one “one inch long and green”. I’m sure I could have found a size 14 is I waited long enough.
These are available to the trout and I’m guessing not many fly fishers imitate them. They usually think these bugs flitting along the water are Caddis. But look closely and I bet you’ll be surprised.
This guy caught my eye. It was a Mayfly nymph floating in the current. When I took a closer look, I saw the back split and an adult trying to hatch.
He was really slow and I wanted to get back fishing, so I removed the paint strainer from my net and carefully placed it on the shore. Occasionally, I waded back to shore to check its progress.
Here are a few images as it slowly breaks free from the nymphal shuck.
Lastly, a quick video of the final effort. It went something like…wiggle, wiggle, rest…wiggle, wiggle, rest…until it finally made it. The video isn’t too long. I hope you enjoy it. You’ll find it on my RiverKeeper Flies YouTube channel.
Isn’t making memories is what fly fishing is all about?
Enjoy…go fish, stay safe!