Everything went according to plan when I launched my new float tube on Spinney Mountain Reservoir early yesterday morning. The operative word here is “early” because this time of year you can bet that the wind will come up about noon and you’ll want to make your way back to shore. That doesn’t mean that it won’t calm down toward evening, but I usually pack up and head to a nearby river or stream to pass the afternoon hours. If I have any energy toward evening I sometimes head back to the reservoir.
The new float tube is a dream. I can stick the inflated tube in the back of my small pickup truck and be on the water in a matter of minutes when I get to the reservoir. More importantly I’m sitting a lot higher up than I did in my old “donut” float tube which means I’m a lot warmer, it’s easier to cast and I am able to see the fish better.
The fishing was a little bit of a different story. It was a chironomid day and I wished my friend and acknowledged stillwater fly fishing expert, Phil Rowley, was along to teach me how he catches trout that are feeding on these larger midges. I was hoping I’d run into the Callibaetis mayfly hatch which I do understand a little better and for which I have a few productive fly patterns, but apparently that hatch is still a several weeks off.
I thought I might be able to catch a few trout rising to the emerging Chironomids, but that has always been a tough game on Spinney Mountain Reservoir and it was even tougher because not that many trout were rising. However that doesn’t mean they weren’t feeding below the water’s surface.
After a frustrating hour or so I decided to switch over to “suspension” style fly fishing. In the most basic incarnation of the tactic you suspend your fly imitations below a strike indicator, cast it out and wait and hope for a strike. Of course, the science and art of suspension fishing is that you have to figure out which fly patterns to use, how deep to fish them and when to set the hook when a trout “bothers” your flies. My rule of thumb is that I set when the strike indicator goes under with authority or when the trout runs with the fly. If the indicator is just “nervous” I try to hang on and wait for a more authoritative take. That’s about the extent of my suspension fishing knowledge when it comes to stillwater.
I fooled around trying this fly and that until I remembered a pattern that had worked for me in the early season a number of years ago. It’s nothing more than a Brassie tied on a curved hook with a cream colored thorax with a little mylar thrown into the dubbing mix for good measure.
I nonchalantly cast my two-fly rig out armed with this fly pattern and another gray midge larvae pattern with a tungsten bead for weight and it wasn't long before the indicator went down, stayed down and I set up. The rather large rainbow trout that had taken the fly immediately got airborne to the tune of about four or five feet. When he hit the water after the aerial display he headed straight for me. I was not ready for this and furiously stripped line, but could not keep up. You know the rest of the story. The trout got off and a nearby float tuber commented, “That one sure liked dancing.”
The wind came up shortly thereafter forcing me to head for shore. I couldn't stop thinking that if I’d furiously stripped line and cranked into warp speed on the flippers I might have been able to keep up with that trout……
When I got home I checked the weather forecast for Monday. It looks like the wind will be calm in the morning. I’ll give it another try then. And I also took a look at Phil Rowley’s website (http://www.flycraftangling.com/). I’ll for sure be tying some of his chironomid patterns tonight.