Posted on February 13, 2012 by Administrator
Ok we left off with meeting the Old Man for the 1st time ……
The main two things that came out of that 1st meeting were that Ken now had a source for #28 flies (which he had been looking for ) and that I had found another person interested in such things . For the remainder of that season we fished together on a semi-regular basis but for every time that we did there would be several others where I would see him on the river fishing and just sit down in the trees and watch . Three things soon became apparant to me …. He always caught plenty of fish , lots of really big fish and he fished differently from everyone else on the river . I realized that whatever it was he was doing I needed to know how to do it ! The decision was made then and there that if he was going to fish here all the time he was going to fish with me . Mind you it was a one sided decision as I didn’t discuss it with the Old Man or anything …..I simply put it into practice .
So it began . Over the next few years we fished together more and more often and I was introduced to a new way of looking at fishing and the river . We spent almost as much time looking at insects and poking around in the rocks as we did fishing although he made it very clear to me that they were actually one and the same ! There was one ritual he practiced every single night , without fail , that I think everyone would be wise to do . Before leaving the river and regardless of how the evening fishing had gone he would always take a tiny net and skim the eddies then inspect his “catch” . His “catch” convinced him and then he convinced me that we needed better patterns . Our hackle midges looked nothing like the little creatures that were so prevalent in his net and furthermore the fish were starting , fairly often , to refuse them . Paradise lost …. hmmm ….or perhaps found !
I say the latter because by now it had started to dawn on me just what it was that was different about how the old man fished compared to myself and well just darned near everyone else . I tended to fish fairly casually when it was tough and then if I figured it out (or got lucky) and started to really get into them my intensity level and focus would go way up and I would fish as hard and as quickly as I could to take advantage of the window to the point of really running up the score ! Ken was different …. he would fish hardest whenit was tough then when the window opened he would often head for the bank and say something like “well this has just gotten silly ” . “What are you doing , we got them where we want them ” I would point out but it soon became obvious that while he enjoyed watching me have fun smacking them he had no interest in doing the same . To me it was solve the puzzle = game on ! To Ken it meant the game was over ….. Working at solving the puzzle WAS the game …..
Anyhow by now we were into the 1st year of the Trout Ranch and river pressure started to really climb and with the increased pressure the trout got steadily harder to lay a beating on . More and more people started fishing the little hackle midges , successfully , and this of course made it tougher yet …..We started fooling with tiny versions of Fran Better’s Usual pattern which were a major step up from the hackle midges but it was obvious there was plenty of room for improvement . Ken kept on netting while I started reading everything I could find on the subject of tiny flies which led me to Darrel Martins book Micro Patterns which had a fair number of CDC patterns and explained the advantages . One that really caught my eye was a Black Fly pupae , bowling pin shaped with a CDC tuft . I started fooling with it . It worked ok , not a killing pattern but definitely had its moments . Ken was interested in some of Shane Stalcup’s loop wing emergers which I struggled to tie at 1st so I decided to try doing it in a style similar to Martin’s pupae adjusted for what Ken was turning up in the net and the Elk River Little Black was born !
From the 1st outing it was obvious we were really on to something ! We fished it initially as a verticle emerger , treating the CDC tuft with Frog’s Fanny so that the tuft would float and the remainder would hang down into the film and it worked well . Ken took to Xinking it and dropping down a bit lower into the film and it was a killing pattern ! No one else had them at the time and he who had them had a heck of an advantage ….. I of course started using them in my guiding as well and the cat was soon out of the bag . It still worked well ! There were times though where it would hit dry spells . Sometimes these dry spells were mid day which almost always turned out to be because of a hatch of really tiny Bwo’s (#28 ) which were easy enough to match in all stages just by downsizing the CDC patterns or Usual variations we used now for almost all the mayflies . More often though the dry spells would occur late in the evening and Ken’s netting on these evenings would usually turn up either tiny mayfly spinners (which were quickly added to the arsenal ) or innumerable , very tiny , light colored (cream, primrose and/or white) flies of two distinct types . One was obviously a very tiny midge while the other was a mirco , down winged , creature with front legs that were hopper like in appearance . Ken dubbed it ‘the White Ghost” . In either case one thing was obvious ….. we needed smaller flies !
Next : Part 3 , the #32′s ….