After taking that beautiful wild brown on Thursday evening, which by the way is the largest wild fish by far that I have ever taken in New Jersey, I hit the South Branch again on Friday evening and then got tortured on Saturday afternoon at a PA limestone creek. No complaints whatsoever though, the weather on Friday evening was about as nice as it can get, and although Saturday was cloudy and spitting, the river was void of anglers and framed by wild flowers.
Friday evening was silly fishing, with trout working the surface from the time I got on the water about 6:15, until darkness turned off my eyesight. Early on there were lots of small dark caddis, and the trout were taking the emergers from the film. I fished a small, size #16, dark caddis emerger on 6x and took a bunch of fish on it, both wild and stocked. I had started with 5x, but I got too many refusals in the clear, smooth runs I was fishing. The switch to 6x all but eliminated the refusals.
About an hour or so before dark, the river exploded with insects - hatching and egg-laying caddis, large and small Sulphurs, March Browns and some Light Cahills. Trout rose all around me, giving me many targets to chose from, so I concentrated on what appeared to be the larger fish. I used one fly, a #16 pheasant tail soft hackle emerger, and took too many fish to count, with a few touching the 14 inch mark. Again, as on Thursday night, I left the river with the trout still feeding with abandon.
Fast forward to Saturday afternoon, where I spent a few hours in the afternoon on a limestone spring creek pulling my hair out. The sky was steely gray and spitting, and I was hopeful that would bring the bugs out and the fish to them. I got half my wish, as the wild browns were feeding on top........to minutiae. It happens. There were some caddis about and a steady procession of size #18 Blue-winged Olives, but the trout had other ideas and decided to pick only the tiniest of midges to munch on. Seriously, I watched the water surface as caddis and BWO's drifted over rising fish unmolested, yet the fish would rise and take something I could not even see.
A close inspection of the water surface at my feet revealed the surface was covered with #28 (maybe) black midges. These things had little black bodies the size of an average comma, and two clear, spent oval wings. When I told Doug about this, he responded that I should have gone with an Al's Rat, and I would have concurred, but I tried that and the snooty little buggers didn't even look at the imitation, even though it was very small. I also tried a small #24 zelon midge, having nothing smaller, and they laughed when the fly floated over their heads; no kidding, I heard them. So I went to my Matt's Gnat in a #24, and with a 7x tippet I finally connected with a few fish before the rain and other plans chased me off the stream. The trout really like that fly, and I should have gone to it much sooner than I did - see Matt's Gnat video to the right for tying instructions.
Sharpen your hooks.