a stroll along the pigeon...


the hopper


It took longer to set up camp this time. I had to spread all of my wet gear in the sun. After emptying my pack, I removed it from the frame and turned it inside out. The area soon resembled the aftermath of a tornado, with things strewn willy-nilly around my small tent. The chores were dealt with in short order. Now I could turn my attention to the fishing.

The higher ground along the banks had narrowed the stream, which caused it to both deepen and quicken. From my higher vantage point, I could see a fair sized hole at the next bend and numerous sunken logs that made excellent cover for any trout who decided to set up housekeeping in this stretch. Time to put the rod together and start fishing.

The day before I had concentrated on catching brook trout, today I decided to go after the more discriminating, and therefore harder to catch, rainbows and browns that inhabit the Pigeon. This might require some careful thought, given the time of day and the time of year.

It was highly unlikely that I would take many trout on a dry fly during the middle of the afternoon in August. A quick perusal of my fly box showed that my options were fairly limited. The grasshopper imitation might work, because of the lower ground upstream from this section. A large black ant might also work if I could get it back under overhanging branches. Of course, there was the ever-useful Muddler Minnow or the always-productive Hare's Ear nymph, but I wanted to try to coax the trout to the surface.

Before going any further, I should make it clear that I'm not a fishing snob. I don't use a fly rod, because of fishing history or prejudice. I often choose to use a fly rod simply because it is so much fun to catch a fish on a fly. It can also be the most effective method to take fish.

Just last spring, my son and I were fishing a small lake near Fenton, Michigan. It was early in bass season and the bluegills were in the shallows. I strung my fly rod and quickly landed a dozen or more eating size 'gills in a short stretch of reeds. In that situation, it was simply the best tool for the job - catching shallow water bluegills. At another time or place, you might have found me using a bobber and (gasp) worm.

The decision to use a dry fly on this day was mostly for the challenge. I only needed one medium size fish for my dinner and I didn't really care if I spent the rest of the day trying to catch it. After all, it wasn't as if I had a bus to catch.

A small deer-hair hopper seemed like the right lure to start with, so I quickly tied one on, then strolled down the side of the hill and eased into the water.

While watching the water from above, I had spotted what I thought were two trout hiding under logs on the far side of the stream. It was an easy cast. The first cast fell exactly where I was aiming and I beamed with pleasure. The smile soon faded as cast after cast ended without any sign of fish.

After ten casts, or so, I started thinking about changing flies. That's when I realized the previous evening's fishing had spoiled me. Here I was, fishing a dry fly in August and I expected a strike minutes after I had started fishing. I shrugged my shoulders to settle the straps on my waders and settled down for a serious bout of fishing.

Thirty minutes later, I had fished down to the bend and decided to leave the stream and walk downstream. I had been too casual when I started, now I decided to use everything I knew to work the water. The best option would be to take a hike downstream and then work back upstream to the camp. That way the fly would always be working fresh water as I cast quartering upstream. A quick hike downstream put me in position.

Part 11...

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