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  • Friday, October 05, 2012

    Looking Beyond The Runners

    Not For Pansies
    size does matter
    .. While some of the neighbors and many of the visitors in our neighborhood are currently preoccupied with the big fish Fall Fishing Frenzy, others have gotten over it. For the latter it's time to be serious about midge fishing.
    .. Winter midge fishing is, indeed, for: THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE PERSPICACIOUS. It is not your average cup of tea. It happens in still and slow water. It happens all year, but especially in the Winter, (at least around here.) It takes some special skills, tackle, techniques, and attitudes.
    .. It's a very special and dear sort of fishing to us since we're on the verge of losing the physical prowess and visual acumen to carry it off.
    .. Most fly fishers are familiar with midge clusters like Griffith's Gnat. Many are familiar with the spartan little upright midge pupa like the Blood Nymph. Very few are familiar with the Skittering Midge.
    .. We, unlike some others, have very little insight into what goes on in the trout brain. We do, on the other hand, have a pretty fair approximation of what will stick a trout in the lip.
    .. This Skittering Midge is a miniscule fly pattern that may be viewed by a trout as a midge - who knows? Ask an expert.
    .. It will catch trout in the small, still bits of water during Winter. It will take fish of all sizes. The itty-bitty hooks will hold a slab if you are patient and skillful - we've not lost our patience yet!
    .. It is tied with grossly outsized hackle and elongated tails. It usually floats, (thanks to surface tension,) with it's body at or above the surface of the water. It's difficult for us to see, (but the rise of the trout isn't.)
    .. We get a few of the indulgent neighbor kids to tie some tippet to these things and we use the tag end to tie them to our leader. It pains us to depend on a 12-year-old for our tackle preparation but we love the catching.
    .. Technique and tackle are important to success. We need to be close to the fly, (and the fish.) We need to present the little specks with more than a modicum of precision. We need to be patient and persistent.
    .. We use a five-foot tip section from a ten-foot 4 weight fly rod. It's an old bit of Lamiglass architecture to which we've added a grip and reel seat. We fish it with a 6 weight level line and a two foot leader, (plus about 18" of 6x tippet.) An exceptionally long cast is 9 or 10 feet, usually half that distance is fine. The heavy line serves to load the rod while we cast mostly just the leader and tippet.
    .. Folks with better eyesight and casting skills than we have use conventional gear and do just fine. Better than fine most of the time.
    .. Trout hover near the water's surface when they are gobbling the midges. Their noses are just below the surface film. Often their backs and fin will cause small little wakes.
    .. They can hardly see objects that are out of the water because they are so close to the surface. Because of this they are easier to approach, (with stealth and care,) than fish rising from the depths.
    .. It's not Winter yet. It is close though, and psychological preparation is necessary. Gear preparation is also necessary. That's what we're about right now.
    .. We enjoy the fishing and catching in the Winter. Very few elbows, very many fish. After all, midges hatch all year in our neighborhood. They get ignored by the elite but are treasured by the hoi paloi. We love 'em.
    .. A dry fly midge is fun, especially if trailed by a pupa imitation. We like the Skittering Midge pattern shown above because of it's tiny white "sail." Trout will take either the dry or the nymph with the same regularity and gusto.
    .. The rise form, in the quiet waters, is smooth, gentle, deliberate, and almost poetic. We're not much into poesy but, we often just watch the fish as they smoothly glide from  morsel to morsel. The midge is a very prolific and very small bit of nourishment; the energy expended by a fish to consume it must be used efficiently. It is most like a ballet when seemingly every fish in the river is nibbling midges.
    .. We shouldn't be writing about this. The neighbors will gag at these revelations. Most fly fishers shy away from the small patterns. They have the mistaken impression that midge fishing is complicated, complex, and hard. In fact, it's simple and easy and fraught with the perils of catching too many fish. All that is necessary is that you do it.
    .. If you've read this far you will be greatly rewarded by reading and watching the following bits of midge wisdom:

    Tom Rosenbauer on midges,
    Jason Aki on Winter midge fishing,

    Simms Fishing Video,
    Craig Mathews Winter Midge Video.