Monday, August 12, 2013

Trout at Midnight

Jessie Hollenbeck ties a fly on by headlamp

At some point in the early part of the summer, when the dry fly fishing begins to lose some of its luster and the trout start to settle into their summer holding patterns, my friends and I start to talk about fly fishing at night. We vow to make room in our schedules for a late night rendezvous during the dog days of summer in late July and August, when the water is low, and the fish - hopefully the big trout - wait until after dark to feed.

When the time is right and the phone calls are made, we all make the drive to the pull-off and with nervous hands we try and tie on our first choice of flies as quickly as possible – flies we all hope will bring interest from the trout.

 With a parade of headlamps leading the way, the walk down to the stream is filled with small talk measured in the cadence of a quick step that is only paused for a warning of a fallen tree or rock under foot.

Even the smaller fish can't layoff a big meal
Then the path finally spills out onto the bank, and the stream lies before us. 

With headlamps turned off, we wait for our eyes to adjust to the dark before taking those first few steps into the water.  Our sight now becomes a liability.

Fly line is peeled off the reel and the whistling sound of it slipping through the air as it carries the fly off to a target unseen seems so much louder without the aid of our eyes. Even the pull of the rod as it waits to spring forward the fly line seems greater. We are now fishing blind and we are better for it.

Flies like these draw explosive strikes
Now we must wait for the fish. Even though we can hear them thrashing at the surface in the hopes of destroying the fly, it is the pull that we are after – And a patient hand is rewarded.

This year I was joined by Jessie Hollenbeck of Wide Sky Flyfishing, Mark Mckelvie (AKA Fly Master) and Rich Pecora. And even though our trip is now a couple of weeks old, the memories of trout and friends still remains.

Throughout the course of that evening we all took turns working our own stretch of water, and even managed a few fish for our efforts. The only pause in the action was for a quick photo or to let another angler work into a productive run. 
A nice small stream brown taken on a mouse by Jessie

In the end, Jessie and I stood knee deep in one last stretch of creek for one last chance at a large trout. But by now the time between strikes, splashes, and the push of water became greater, an
d we found only one more trout willing to exact its full measure on a fly. If only its determination would have been matched equally with size – it would have been a bigger fish. But in the dark, all fish are monsters.

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