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  • Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    Countdown To Ice Out

    Maggot & Meal Worm Supplies Exhausted
    lawn chairs at a premium
    the current rain & sleet & snow are just a bonus

    .. The drool level in town is palpable and escalating. Both the gear group and the fly fraternity speak the same language this time of year.
    .. Moms, dads, wives, husbands, boy & girl friends, and the kids had better fish or cut bait.
    .. The day could be today. It could be tomorrow. It might even wait a week, (but we doubt it.) There is open water on Hebgen Lake right now. More is appearing by the hour. It's beautiful.
    .. The Madison Arm Estuary is open all the way to Grayling Creek.
    Sunrise Cove is currently fishing like there's no ice at all. The ice shanties have been abandoned. It's Ice Out Time in the neighborhood.
    .. We're not sure whether "ice out" is a noun or a verb or adjective. If it's a verb, it's 'icing-out' now! If it's an adjective, the lake will be 'iced-out' in about 3 more weeks. If it's a noun, it's 'ice out'.
    .. The neighbors are already planning for next weekend, (since it's snowing again.) Portable grills, ice chests cleaned with baking soda, lawn chairs cleaned and rust removed, spare rods and reels, and of course extra beer for celebrations are on the 'to-do' lists.
    .. And, there will be plenty of celebrating to do. This is the time of year when the big fish of the lake are most accessible, and most easily caught.
    .. For the next couple of weeks there will be little parties of jubilation along the lake shore on every beach where the ice is within casting range. If we get a genuine cold spell the ice will recede slowly, and the gaiety could last for a month.
    .. Short strong leaders are the drill for most of the fly fishers. Nothing over 6' is necessary, (nor is it desirable.) Any thing in the box will do. Presentation and position are the keys for catching success.
    .. We continue to mention that the trout will eat anything that looks like food to them. How do we know this? The folks that eat these fish look at the stomach contents. What a varied and capricious bunch of crap-ola the trout do eat.
    .. Twigs, (some of gargantuan size,) constantly amaze us. Bits of leaves, grass, and moss, (or something similar???) are also cataloged. There's always sand and gravel, (a size distinction that is lost on us.) And of course the normally anticipated bugs and some others, not so apparently available.
    .. Last year at this time a big Brown Trout was gutted and the entrails dissected. Among the above mentioned debris was a nearly complete grasshopper, (minus one leg.) Use your imagination! The damn thing was nearly an inch long.
    .. In lakes and turbid streams epibenthic feeding is the norm. There is all manner of goop on the bottom of streams and lakes. Gobble it now and digest it later seems to be the strategy when drift feeding is not available.
    .. All the neighbors have their favorite and 'secret' weapons. We use Feather Dusters, Prince Nymphs, Gob-O-Worms, (HERE & HERE,) San Juan Worms, Yellowstone Badger and an occasional Shop Vac. They all seem to work or fail with equal aplomb.
    .. Presentation is usually with a slow sink-tip line; cast to the ice, and then pulled gently into the water. This is the most successful method for most of the neighbors.
    .. The contrarian method is just about the complete opposite. A high floating line with an extremely long, (12' is where they start,) leader is used. Scuff the leader so it sinks and place a double fly rig on it, (flies about 2' apart.) Cast this rig parallel to the ice and smoke a cigar until the take.