I have just returned from three days of fishing in Montana where the rivers are big sky high and the fish are eating way down low in funkytown. Despite these challenges we had a dynamite day fishing the Big Hole with guide and friend, Eric Thorson, who in our minds has officially earned the moniker ‘Hardest Working Man in Fly Fishing’.
With high flows, very few bugs flying, and fish who simply refused to eat, Eric worked like a maniac rowing through thousands of cubic feet of raging water while digging deep into his fly boxes and getting super creative on patterns.
You may recall we fished with Eric a few weeks ago during very chilly temps over Memorial Day. Eric and his business partner Ryan own Sunrise Fly Shop in Melrose and we are huge fans of these guys and their whole operation.
This time we didn’t have the frigid weather of a few weeks ago – it was about 90-degrees and sunny – but once again we fished like lunatics all day. Eric put us on a twenty mile float and it took all three of us to force feed the fish that we did manage to catch.
We threw just about everything at these trout. I was determined to tempt something to the surface and spent most of the day with some duo combination of big-big dries, big-medium dries, and even big-humongo dries. I was somewhat coy drifting these superbad bugs in all the hotspots, teasing the fish with a “Try Me, Try Me, Eat Me, Eat Me, Drink Me, Drink Me” attitude.
I caught one small fish.
Please Please Please
The Professor was unafraid to go low early drifting small nymphs and worms and catching a handful of nice fish in the morning. When things went deadsville, Eric dreamed up a super funky combo of dead drifting a streamer with a nymph below. The Professor pulled out three or four fish on that rig while I was battling it out, coming up dry on dries.
It was time for me to show some humility and beg the fish. Please please please will you please eat something for me, Trouts? I haven’t had this much trouble trying to convince a creature to eat since Little Chick was a newborn and wouldn’t take a bottle.
Get Down On It
Okay, fine. Since all the fish were coming in the back of the boat I conceded and signed on for the down and dirty streamer-nymph program. Immediately I had two eats on the small wet fly, but I guess I didn’t have my heart and soul totally into it because I missed both fish! Argh.
I Feel Good
As the sun was dropping a little low in sky and the takeout was growing nigh, we all noticed more bugs fluttering about. Despite the lack of success on dries all day, Eric had a hunch.
We were all hot and tired and mildly deflated. We had fished ourselves into a certifiable frenzy but Eric got down on his metaphorical knees brought on a dramatic cape routine for a grand finale to beat the band.
In one fell swoop, we ditched all nymphs and rigged up big dry flies.
Ka-poow! Huge eat on top.
Cha-ching! Another one devoured it.
Ka-boom! Nice 17-incher pounced on it.
Thanks to Eric’s relentless efforts and keen instincts, we had some seriously hot fishing during the final hour of this mega float. In the words of The Godfather of Soul, “I Feel Good.”
Many Thanks to Eric and Ryan of Sunrise Fly Shop.
Be sure to check out their recently retooled website while you enjoy some tunes from Mr. Brown…