As you may have read, I went fishing on September 30th and had a good time. I think there are a few things I can attibute my success to.
- Trout are starting to spawn, so hormones are cranked up, meaning fish are more aggressive.
- After sticking with fly gear all season long (almost exclusively) my ability to cast with a fly rod has improved a lot, including roll casting.
- I have learned that stealth is much more important when using fly gear (as opposed to spinning gear) because long-distance casting is much less an option with a fly rod.
- Fly selection – with spinners it’s one of two options: a gold #9 Panther Martin, or a silver #9 Panther Martin. With flies, the options can be overwhelming. But if you have the wrong fly, you won’t catch fish.
Speaking of using the correct fly, I had hookups and strikes aplenty using a Hopper with a Copper John dropper. Mid-day, when I started fishing, every fish I caught was on the Copper John dropper, nothing on the Hopper. But as the sun started to get lower in the sky, the fish switched over to the Hopper and ignored the Copper John that was ticking along the streambed. I have no idea why this happened. I think I may have had a couple of double strikes, meaning one fish went for the Hopper and one went for the Copper John, at the same time. I never did get a double hookup though.
I also had zero hits on wooly buggers, Griffith’s Gnats, or any other patterns I tied on.
All this is to say that when things aren’t going right, it’s hard for a novice fly fisherman to figure out what to do. Is it the fish? The fly? Am I being too loud? Casting shadows? Wearing the wrong color hat?
So many choices, and without experience or a guide, it’s difficult to know what to do. Luckily, once in a while you have the day you’ve been hoping for all year.