Sunday, September 19, 2010

High and dry: Big trout looking up

In flyfishing, a 20-inch trout often is considered trophy quality. I usually catch one a year, sometimes a few more, sometimes none. But whenever a trout stretches the tape measure to 20 inches or more, it's a special fish.
Usually, those fish are caught in deep water on nymphs or streamers. But in the last two weeks, large trout have been hitting the surface at a local lake for dry flies. Big, bushy flies such as size 10 parachute Adams and 10-12 grasshopper patterns are the ticket.
Seeing a big fish come out of the depths to inhale a dry fly is one of flyfishing's greatest thrills. The visual impact is so strong that I have to hold back on setting the hook until it's in the fish's mouth. Several times recently, I've gotten so excited at the sight of a 5 or 6-pound rainbow coming up to smash my hopper pattern that I've pulled it right out of their mouth.
But when I do hook up, hold on tight because these big 'bows are headed for the weeds, trying to tangle your line so they can escape. Sometimes it works for them, but often it has not. Today, for instance, I landed four fish, all over 20 and a couple around 2 feet long. The secret, I've found, is go with 1X tippet. Leave that weak stuff, 3X or 4X, at home.
I don't know how long this unusual top-water action for big fish will last. But I am savoring it like a 20-ounce porterhouse steak.