Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday Fishing Report: Hopper Day

It may still be a little early to declare this as "Hopper Time." But hopper patterns are starting to work more consistently.
Lidia took this picture of a grasshopper in the bed of the truck after our drive up to the lake last week. I said at the time we drove through a "blizzard" of hoppers; it would be more accurate to say a "hailstorm."
They're still there, flying over the road in windborne swarms, and dotting the pavement. So are flocks of cowbirds feasting on them.
This is the pattern I tied up in approximation of their size and color. Next batch I'll lengthen the legs and maybe even knot them. You may recall I already hooked and lost a big trout on this fly.
So I was ready to try it out again. But first I took pictures of the butterflies I found flitting from milkweed bloom to milkweed bloom at the place I parked the truck.
The day was hazy with smoke from fires in British Columbia. Trout were jumping all along the weedbeds up by those trees. The only thing I can figure out is that they're taking Damsels, sometimes right out of the air, apparently. Most of the time they come completely out of the water.
I tried throwing a few flies at them, including my "Damsel in Distress" soft hackle, but they wanted the real thing.
So I tied on my hopper pattern and went over to John's Cove to work the bank by casting the fly right to the water's edge and stripping it back. Halfway down the bank I had a strong take. I employed the stripping technique again and got him out of the weeds and into open water. I thought the worst was over.
Then he decided to go back to the weedbed. I'm still amazed at how strong and fast these fish can be. One moment the fly line was on my left in deep water, the next it was way over to my right in the weedbed.
I thought I could hold him, but he put on a burst of greater speed and snapped my tippet. One hopper pattern down; one to go.
I was encouraged, in a depressed kind of way. He took the fly, but...he took the fly.
An inauspicious beginning. I paddled around aimlessly for awhile trying to figure out my next strategy
Then I tied on a Lidia's Caddis--a good bet, I thought--and went down to where I'd caught those nice fish the day before. I found a leaper in the weedbeds and laid the fly right in front of him. He came up next to it once, twice, three times, and I was ready to go back to the drawing board. Then he came over and, almost as an afterthought, sipped it up.
I found more leapers, but couldn't get another take. So I decided to go back over to John's Cove for Round 2. I dragged the caddis behind me and halfway there picked up another fish.
About then somebody flipped the switch and the fish stopped feeding. Not a rise anywhere.
But I didn't need risers for what I was going to do. I tied on the remaining hopper and began prospecting again along a different section of bank.
Up came a fish, out of nowhere. I stripped him in again, but this time very carefully. I got him and the fly into the net.
It was a nice Brown, built like a fullback. I looked in his jaw for my other fly, but it wasn't there.
That felt better. I caught him right in the middle of this bank.
I took a brief break, and while I was doing that the wind shifted and began to blow. There was still a sheltered patch under the willows near where I had parked the float tube, so when I paddled out again I threw the bedraggled hopper in there. Turns out it had some more work to do.
Now I was encouraged in a happy sort of way. But the hopper wouldn't float anymore, so I retired it until next time. There were a few rises, but the wind kept the water ruffled. So I trolled a soft hackle until time to head for the truck and home.
It may not be "Hopper Time," but it was a Hopper Day.

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