Dry fly guys have had a couple months of tiny midges, mayflies and all kinds of small bugs on the local waters. There is a great sense of accomplishment in tricking a trout into eating a size 20 fly at 50 feet, dropping it right into his feeding lane and watching that big nose come up and sip it. But sometimes you just want to throw meat.
Casting big dries is the stuff of dreams for many fly fishermen. There are a lot of places where you never fish anything larger than a size 16 or so. So watching a fish just crush a big dry fly like a chubby, foam hopper or a size 8 drake is pretty incredible. That’s one of the many things that draws people to places like Bozeman.
Earlier this week Ethan and I drove up to the Three Dollar Bridge area on the Upper Madison. We were hoping to catch some decent dry fly fishing. Word on the street was that the Baetis fishing was pretty good and we did see a lot of fish rising when we first got there. The weather was a little funky and the fish were being very picky.
After a few hours of trying to get fish to eat and not having much luck, Ethan tried a Chubby. It’s getting late enough in the season that stoneflies are beginning to show up in places. The fish will key in on big flies like this all summer long and it’s always kind of fun to see how early you can get them to eat.
His technique was fishing it very close to the bank, as the fish will often hug the shore during high water and in that stretch in particular. Pretty quickly he got four eats. The only one to hand was the one pictured below, but that’s still pretty cool. A storm moved in and blew us off the river shortly after, but I’m sure we could have landed a few more on top had the conditions been better.
While everyone is still keying in on the little stuff, don’t forget about the bigger flies. They’re easy to see, float well, and make for a great strike indicator. It’s also early enough in the season that the fish haven’t seen thousands of them… Something to think about.