Every now and then I get lucky. It's rare in my fly fishing world that the weather, water levels, and bug choices mesh perfectly into a nicely executed two-and-a-half hours of trout stalking. Today was one of those days. A nice taste of early Colorado fall put a positive spin on a day that had previously been painfully monotonous and mind numbing.
It's been a long, hot, dry summer here in FOCO, NOCO (that's Fort Collins, Northern Colorado). The fishing this summer has been fantastic, and progressed through a familiar seasonal routine. After a spectacular opening to the season back in April, when tiny blue-winged olives netted me a number of 20+ inch rainbows, the Poudre settled into early summer nymphing, with fish hitting largely on small nymphs - pheasant tails and princes in particular. Caddis hatches have dominated late August and September to this point - at times, it seemed like the trout in the lower Poudre wouldn't dine on anything else.
Today, we finally got some overcast weather with a brief period of light rain. On my bike ride home from work, I noticed a significant amount of surface feeding, with subtle little rings of water suggesting the fish were feeding just beneath the surface. No dramatic, splash-creating rises, just little kisses at the surface. My mind kicked into high gear - a rare occurrence on most days - and I started formulating a plan for some evening trout catching. In the last few minutes of my ride, I decided on a mid-size caddis as a lead fly with an RS2 trailing behind.
An hour later, I stepped into the Poudre in the middle of a very slight drizzle - actually more of a mist - and a full feeding frenzy. The combination of the overcast sky and the light rain seemed to be the dinner bell for the fish, and within ten minutes I'd taken three nice little fish. The caddis was simply window dressing at this point, serving no other purpose than functioning as a strike indicator. The fish were sucking the RS2 out of the film just the way I thought they would. Unfortunately, I'd only managed to tie one RS2 before leaving. I'm at a loss as to why my box isn't filled with them; with the exception of the split tail, they're an easy tie, and all the wisemen in fly fishing Blogdom (here, here, and here, for instance) consistently sing the pattern's praises.
After three fish, my lone RS2 had taken too much of a beating. The light rain stopped, but the feeding continued and the fish got more aggressive and began rolling over flies on the surface. Noting that none had bothered to hit the caddis yet, I decided that a small BWO might be a nice substitute for the RS2. After tying one on behind the caddis and immediately nailing a few more fish, I stuck with the caddis/BWO combination the rest of the night. During the second hour, the fish alternately hit both flies in almost equal proportions, although I'd give the BWO the edge. All told, I netted somewhere between 15-20 trout, all in the 10-12 inch range, with the exception of one really nice cutthroat that was probably around 14 inches. The Poudre slam eluded me once again - the picky browns apparently didn't like the bugs I was serving up.
So there you have it. No nymphs were harmed in the making of this blog post, but a number of dry flies and one emerger sure had the hell beaten out of 'em.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: It's a beautiful thing, this obsession of mine. I'm pretty sure there was nowhere I'd have rather been between 5:00 - 7:30!