I’ve been under the weather for a while so it felt great to finally get out on the river to enjoy some of the showers we have been experiencing the past few weeks. I grabbed a rod that was rigged with a couple nymphs from my last trip and cast them into a deep pool on the Upper Sac and caught a few fish. It was reassuring to feel some life on the other end. I then switched to a dry dropper rig to fish some pocket water upstream and over the next hour and a half caught about a dozen, mostly small rainbows on the dropper, but a few decent sized trout also came to my trusty Parachute Adams.
I then took a short walk to a favorite slick and found some rising fish. A few appeared to be good sized and they we taking hard! With a number of bugs in the air, Green Drakes, Brown Drakes, Pale Morning Duns, Tibialis (pinks), two sized rusty spinners (12 & 16) as well as at least a couple species of caddis and even a Salmonfly, it was going to be a bit of a crap shoot to figure it out. I tied on my go to Tibialis (pink) pattern as these bugs seemed to be the most numerous. The pattern is a rust colored spider (sparsely tied) Humpy and I made what I thought were a few good presentations without a look. I switched to a rust colored CDC emerger as the fish seemed to be taking something just under the surface and drew a few bumps (or was I just off my game and set too soon?).
I made a few more passes with the emerger without success and thought perhaps I had put all the fish down. I gave them a little rest as I switched to a soft hackle emerger and wet it so it would sink a bit. So I could track it, I tied it off the bend of a Brown Drake pattern I had tied up a few seasons ago. Luckily, a few fish started to rise again so I cast to the closest one which to my amazement ate the large Brown Drake!
The fish turned out to be a wild Brown Trout, a very rare event on the Upper Sac, perhaps 1/500 or 1/1000 fish caught and was also about twenty inches which is also quite rare. But what really amazed me is what happened after I released this fish. It swam up against my leg and she rested there for about ten minutes while I untangled my line, stored my flies and took a few pics of her. Fly fishing can be very nurturing and healing. Having spent the past few weeks contemplating the possibility of never being able to fly fish again it was a better welcome back than I could ever have hoped for.
Here is the recipe for the “Brown Drake” Bon Bon pictured above should you care to tie one on: Hook: Tiemco 100 size 10, Thread: Rust 6.0, Tail: 6-8 Dark Moose Hair, Body: Rust Superfine Dubbing, Rib: Yellow Silk Thread, Wing: Dark Dun Deer Hair, Hackle: Furnace.
PS: My best efforts to key the bug was a reference in Hafele & Hughes, Western Hatches for the Ameletus Mayfly. The bugs I have captured have two dark brown split tails, 1 1/2 the body length, a rust colored abdomen and thorax with distinct yellowish/tan markings and a variegated dark dun wing. H & H lists no recommended Dun or Spinner patterns, though they do describe the habitat: “Ameletus are distributed through out the western states, but fishable numbers occur sporadically across the range…nymphs are commonly found in small, rapid streams, near but not in fast water…the same places inhabited by large trout.” Let me know if you have some thoughts about what species this fly might be representing?