• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Visit: Montana Cowgirl
  • Tuesday, June 23, 2009

    Ichthyological Research

    River Secrets Explored
    damn! - the sun was shinning
    .. Fishing guides in the neighborhood have precious few days off during the visitor season.
    .. Some play golf, some stay home with the family, some sleep and recuperate, and some go fishing.
    .. It's an honor to be the fifth, (odd-man-out,) on a busman's holiday. Four of the region's top guides, (& yours truly,) visited the Madison River last weekend.
    .. Two drift boats leapfrogged down the river testing currents, drift lines, fish distribution, water clarity, water depth, and a myriad other factors that go into guiding on the world's longest riffle.
    .. A combined total of over 110 years experience, (we don't count,) was represented in the flotilla.
    .. An assortment of flies and techniques was tested: weight, - no weight, bobbers - no bobbers, dry, - wet, - nymph, - streamer, - single, - double, - dead drift, - swing, - and so forth, were explored.
    .. Results and locations were noted. Fish condition was assessed, [yes, fish were caught - and the Rainbow Trout (some over 20" ,) are healthy: the Brown Trout are too.]
    .. Fly preference and depth of take were observed. Rigs were adjusted. Tippets were lengthened and shortened: strengthened and lightened.
    .. Insights, speculations, observations, and conclusions were shared and compared.
    .. The pros called it research - we called it a damn fine experience. They demanded we participate.
    .. They insisted on fixing our rig. They changed the flies. They adjusted the leader and tippet. They untangled the snarls. They retied everything and did it in the blink of an eye. They still have teeth!
    .. They picked us up at our door and delivered us back there. They bought us lunch and adult beverages. They showed us the intricacies of the river and it's personality.
    .. They walked the boat through the choice runs. They beached the boat for embarking and disembarking, and we didn't even get a toe wet - how fine is that!
    .. For early season fishing it was a banner day. It wasn't perfect: the sun and clouds were spectacular. The wind, (always there,) was blowing a gale, but at least it was blowing downstream.
    .. The caddis were late and there were no noticeable mayflies on the surface. The swallows were generally cruising high and only occasionally dipping to water level. But all the detriments were overcome by the knowledge gained by having fished this river for a lifetime.
    .. We get this opportunity to visit the lowland Madison River only a few times per year. Each time is a cherished memory. It's work as hard as any for the guides. It's as good as it gets for us.
    .. We can only reveal the common flies that worked, (and there were many.) We've been sworn to secrecy about the "guide flies" but we can use them if we ever get that way again.
    .. Subsurface with a bobber and two flies was the most successful catching rig of the day.
    .. Size, (on this occasion,) did not seem to matter. The second most successful two fly combination was Rubberlegs Grub and olive Serendipity, (size 4 followed by size 16.) Fish took them both. Egg patterns and two-toned pink San Juan Worms came in a close third. First place is a closely guarded secret.
    .. On the surface small Iris Caddis and various X-Caddis variants were the ticket. It was a ticket to the cheap seats, however, since the fish on this day were not seeing much above them. The river is still high and has a bit of color.
    .. Yet, the old adage, "Fish Got'ta Eat" holds true. That's what was discovered and explored. It was discovered quickly and fishing rapidly turned to catching.
    .. Changes in flies and combinations served to verify the research. There was nothing random about it. It was methodical, studied and informed: that's what intimacy with a river and it's fish is all about.
    .. These folks are our neighbors. We get to visit with them infrequently during this time of year. They work hard and deserve our heartfelt appreciation and thanks. Thanks guys!
    .. P.S. all images are huge. Click on them to see. Use them as you choose, citation is always appreciated.