This morning I spent an hour fly fishing at a new spot on the Oatka. The Wheatland Center road access.
As soon as I walked down to the water I could see both sulphurs and march browns coming off. There were a few fish rising here and there sucking in mayflies that stayed too long on the water. It looked like it would be a fantastic hour of fishing....right? Well, only sort of.
After a few casts to a spot that a fish was rising, my fly disappeared and I set the hook only to find no resistance and a missed fish. I fished the flat section of water for 15 more minutes with no more hookups, and when I came to a series of good looking riffle sections I changed to a #16 flashback PT nymph. I cast and I stepped down, I cast and I stepped down. I worked every inch of those riffle sections with no pull downs. And as I came to another flat section and saw more fish rising, I changed to a #16 march brown dry. This seemed to be the right fly as every natural that was coming off was the right size and color of my imposter. I worked the upper section of the flat water getting some good takes after a good cast. But it was not to be, as every fish that took my fly, I missed. I then switched gears and worked the lower end of the flat water below the tailout. I was now casting upstream to fish. This was working much better and soon I had a good fish take my fly under. I set the hook and felt resistence. But a quick head shake and he was gone. I did that one more time before I checked the hook and found that it was bent. After I bent the hook back to it's normal shape I began to cast to more rising fish just a bit further upstream. And again my fly disappeared. And again I felt a good fish and then nothing. It was gone. Another examination of the hook revealed the same bend. Off with this fly - I will never use light wire dry fly hooks with my 4 weight anymore. Lesson learned!
The action slowed a bit and I moved back upstream. I tied on a "standard" wire #14 march brown dry fly and began to work some fish in a riffle section. This was the key!! Soon I started to get some takes but I was still missing fish. I took a deep breath and slowed down. The next fish that took my fly was a solid hook up. And I finally landed a nice 12" wild Oatka brown. Whew!
I worked those riffle sections cast by cast. Taking a step every time. And yes...I lost a few more fish before I had to go. But, the point is that the dry fly action was great this morning! The fish were really turned on to the march browns. I had the right fly. I put in front of fish without spooking them and they took the fly. I just couldn't get my act together today. But, that's okay! I have had so many really fantastic mornings, afternoons and evenings, that I have to realize it's "fishing" not "catching" that is the joy of fly fishing. At least it is for me.