Weird Fishing Moments #1

The sun was low and black caddis were everywhere. I was settled-in river left on the long straightaway before the takeout. I was using, and had been for over two hours, a solid black elk hair caddis size 16. This only flies I had were a size larger than the naturals. It did not matter. The catching had been obscenely good. The fish actually seemed to prefer my fly over the naturals. Sated and mellow, I was in that gooey, glutted state we all seek and rarely find. I was now happily lofting sloppy casts and wading clumsily essentially trying to find ways to put the fish down. Nothing worked and I kept catching fish.

After a couple more fish, I waded upriver until I came to a slight indentation in the bank. A big rock at the head of this bay forced the gentle current up against the grassy bank creating a classic feeding lane. A couple big fish were working here taking caddis right off bank. I felt confident I could catch those fish. I decided they would be the last fish of the day. To do any more would be sheer gluttony.

It was then that something caught my eye. One stalk of grass moved suddenly and not in rhythm with the current. This tip of a long stalk of grass was dragging in the water perhaps eighteen inches off the bank. Maybe a muskrat had pulled on this grass and that is what caught my eye. I soon looked back to the feeding fish. Then the grass moved again. Again, I turned my attention from the fish to watch. I wondered what the heck was causing this. 

As time went by, caddis began to collect on the grass stalk. Soon, there were quite a few caddis clinging to the stalk. It was then that a big snout came out of the water and with open mouth, moved up the stalk. At its apex, the trout closed its mouth and slid back into the river pulling the grass with it. The stalk went underwater, then popped up. Almost immediately, the caddis began to collect once again.

I watched the process repeat itself 15 seconds later, then again in another 15 seconds. I was amazed. So, if I had this right, this big trout was sucking caddis off the grass and getting dozens of the bugs every time. You gotta be kidding me! I had never seen this before... or since for that matter. Here was a true innovator. The Steven Jobs of the trout world. If all trout found out about this technique, we dry fly fishermen would be finished! There was no way to catch this fish. Or maybe I could time it just right so that my fly was at the grass stalk when he opened his mouth.

I tried it a few times, but could never get the timing right. The fish would grab the grass just before or just after my fly drifted by. I gave it one more try, but I had really conceded the contest. At least I had a story no one would believe. It was time to quit anyway and this was getting a bit too esoteric. Just as I was ready to reel up to go home, my fly hung up on the stalk of grass. My leader began to drag, but the fly stayed firm to the grass. I knew I could pull it off, but I decided to leave it and see what happened. It wasn't five seconds before the fish rose up to seine the grass stalk.  He rose out of the river past his gill plate. I could now tell he was a big buck brown. This was one enterprising fish! I struck when he closed his mouth.

To make a long story short, I caught the fish. He was big, the fight was great... all the stuff we love. But what was really cool was when I went to take the fly out, it was stuck to a long piece of grass. I looked over and could see the grass was no longer dragging in the river. I had clipped off enough that the stalk now hung six inches above the water's surface. When I struck the fish, he must have ripped the grass off along with my fly. A bit weird, but I've never forgotten this fish and hopefully never will!