Wednesday Lunch at the Brown Trout School: Caddisflies

Yes, I played hooky yesterday…literally

The weather was supposed to be perfect, and the flows were top notch. There was a full to waxing moon. It’s mid-June, meaning there should be plenty of bugs around. I felt lucky, so I ditched my class and visited the Brown Trout School instead.

catch-releaseThe morning started off as usual, with a Thermos full of coffee and a stress-free morning drive over the Continental Divide. I hit the water about 8am, and started tossing streamers – by 9:30 or so the air was warming up, but I was feeling pretty cold with the rod (i.e I was getting skunked). Nevertheless, it wasn’t long before the caterers started bringing in the lunch carts – I saw a caddisfly scoot by, and soon thereafter all the kids must have heard the cafeteria bell. It never turned into a rising fish melee, but it was pretty easy to figure out what the students wanted – all you had to do was slap the back of your neck, clench your fist, and then look in the palm of your hand. It’s nothing new for this time of year, but it’s always a hoot to be on the river when the Trichoptera are doing their dance.

The flies worth carrying were…uh…[I’m tired of saying it – read the title again if you’re still lost]. More specifically, I threw green and blue Copper Johns, blue/green IKOs, white beadhead nymphs, and copper on black zebra midges until the sun was beating on my head. Thereafter, I milled around waiting for a cloud to come by – then I’d toss a #16/#18 tan or gray elk hair dry on the quiet water behind any and every protruding boulder in sight. Tally for the day wound up a respectable eighteen or so (with an approximately 60/40 split between down and dry), and I lost nearly as many to pulled hooks (as well as two to outright snapped rigs after the fish hauled ass into rock gardens). All but a couple that got sent to the dean’s office were between 12 and 19 inches in length.

Moreso, I’m quite happy that I didn’t forget that I didn’t forget to put my camera in my vest, and spent at least an hour of the day snapping photos. I’m somewhat hesitant to grab more than a quick shot of this or that fish lying in net and in water, and have even been known to cringe at the sight of someone laying a fish on a bank next to a rod for photos. But I got lucky again – one pistol I hooked decided the river bottom was the safest place to be just long enough for me to unlatch the net on my back – then he darted back to the surface and straight into said net, immediately spitting out the fly. I figured he didn’t put up much of a fight, so I laid him up on a rock for digital posterity’s sake. When I stuck him back in the water, he bolted away just like I imagined he would.

Not a bad outing, even for senior skip day, although by the way my Blackberry lit up like a Christmas tree when I got back in cell range, I suspect I’ll be paying for it at least through Saturday.

Still fighting – schoolyard bully looked like he took it on the chin last week too

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