Making my way down Barnes Hole #1 this afternoon was worth the time spent. I have a few days off and then a run of trips, so I figured some R & D was not only good for me, but for the days to come as well. Walking the Madison in YNP is pretty nostalgic. Having not wet a line in this section of the river since last Fall, the ritual of relearning the river feels good. I get to fish, however I choose, and end up talking with some interesting folks. One can’t help but eavesdrop on the conversations along the banks and in the parking lot while rigging for the river. I don’t participate much in the chatter, which is full blown right now as anglers ascend on the Madison River, but there is definitely some funny shit going on out there. The Old dudes talk politics and the younger crowd discusses fly patterns and fish numbers. Some drop names like Jacklin or Brooks and then quote The Living River trying to feel fishy. Charlie is long gone, but his spirit lingers and Bob is a living legend – red suspenders, plaid shirt, black glasses and that never ending loop.
All bullshit aside, there are not huge numbers of runners in the river just yet. Yesterday’s rain and clouds, followed by today’s rain and clouds is helping things along. However, I did my best while nymphing in the sunshine in between the storms. Nymphing a big fly and something smaller off the back seems to well for me after the morning in which I usually swing flies. I fish Zonkers, sculpin patterns, stones flies, prince nymphs, pheasant tails, partridge & peacock, RAM caddis and various lightning bugs.
At one point this afternoon, BWOs emerged so I switched out to a #18 purple lightning bug behind a girdle bug. In just a few moments, I had a 21 inch brown to the hand and then three more runners hooked and off in the next twenty minutes. The BWOs quite and caddis popped just for bit. Back to the RAM Caddis and a couple more fish hooked up. This is not rocket science, it’s fishing, which can actually feel like rocket science from time to time. The runners are lake fish. So, they are not that picky. Drift the fly, near the bottom for as long as you can and set the hook. Take a step down stream and do it again. Swing out the end of your drift as this is about the only time one can actually rely on hooking a fish this way. Set on the pause of the bobber, on the hard take or if some inner voice tells you to set the hook, then do it. Fishing is instinctive, so don’t second guess – react to the moment at hand.