“You trout guys are nuts,” Israel said to me as he waded the short distance to the opposite streambank and untwisted his dry fly from the brown husk of last year’s prairie flower. The wind picked up and made casting a size 18 Sparkle Dun on light tippet nearly impossible. I was constantly changing my mind between throwing a dry and a beadhead nymph all day since nothing seemed to fit and thought I finally broke through when a trio of trout revealed themselves in a series of rises in quick succession in the pool ahead of us.
I had a take on the next cast, and then missed another two casts later. Then it was over; whatever induced those fish to rise had now ended. I joke to Israel that is was the fabled “false hatch” created from the first half dozen casts I made with my Parachute Adams. In truth it is the only explanation that makes sense to me now.
This was the second of three locations I dragged Israel along to in search of trout, and in his defense he took it well. The first location yielded no fish despite some wicked-looking riffle-pool-runs just feet from the public parking area. This location gave us one fish before the wind kicked up and the trout hunkered down. I was hoping this trend was logarithmic and the third spot would be the breakthrough.
Israel thinks I’m nut for chasing trout. At one point we spotted a couple dozen-or-so browns laying low in a pool. He called out “Are those baitfish the trout?” I nodded. Another time I mentioned catching some “big” browns at a particular spot. “You mean they’re 35 inches?” he shot back.
Understand that Israel is a beginning trout angler, but not new to fishing. He’ll argue that he’s a novice fly fisherman too, but in truth he’s figured the fly fishing part out pretty well on his own: his cast looks rather good, and on occasion shoots out a near-perfect dry fly cast that on any other day would be rewarded with a fish on the other end. Hell, he’s even a guide and speaker, the self-styled Shorebound Hero who spends more than 200 days a year fishing the Madison area. But he loves muskie and chasing carp and an expert fishing tight spots with a spinning rig. I don’t know if he 100% believes me when I hand him a tiny nymph from the fly bin and promise him that it will catch fish. Especially on a day like today.
So to him this is nuts. Driving nearly two hours to a skinny stretch of water, tying on impossibly small lures and trying to thread them between narrow streambanks and overhanging vegetation, all in the search of fish smaller than some of his muskie lures.
To me, the novice muskie angler, I sometimes can’t imagine spending long stretches of time without taking fish. I don’t see the need to stay near Madison when great trout fishing is “only” two hours away. I’ve accepted the fact that I’ll lose a few flies on every outing; gives me reason to tie a few more, I figure.
So we’re both a little crazy in our own ways. That moment when a fish finally takes your fly though, and the rod comes to life, everything sense to make a lot more sense. I don’t it matter too much what you’re using or what the fish is at that point.
That’s what we’re all really crazy for.