15 hours ago
Friday, September 30, 2011
Well its been Skater time for a while now and I finally put one in the books for 2011. It doesn't happen too often on the Wet side of the state, but it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. High pressured rivers mixed with hatchery drones around highly populated areas always put skating flies on the back burner. However with the success over the years from my good friend Brad Smith, who has been fishing the local rivers since he was a kid, I have continued to give it a go and finally sealed the deal.
To my surprise while skating a riffle hitched black and purple smuddler minnow, mid-day over some overhanging trees I finally rose a fish. Not knowing what it was because I rose a few smolts in the same location, I was not sure what grabbed the fly. Over the years I have been surprised at the takes on skated flies. Some like rabid trout hungry for dinner, others sipping a bug like tricos on the Missouri, while others literally come out of the water trying to kill it. The point is I have learned to keep the faith and continue to work that fish until I know for sure what it is. This led me last year to a skated monster whitefish on the Clearwater River in Idaho, but that's another story.
Continuing to work through this little tailout below some overhanging trees I started chatting with my friend Bill that was working his way over to me. After casting a single spey, the smuddler started to skate down and under the trees. I turned my head and said something to Bill when it happened. Dammit I missed it, but the grab was solid and the fish was on. Not soon after I was beaching a bronze male hatchery fish.
Hatchery fish are not known for great fights or size, but what I have noticed over the years is that I have caught 3:1 more hatchery fish on skaters then native fish. I am sure this has to do more with East-side fish being more acclimated to their surroundings and thus relearn their instincts as trout, though this is probably bullshit since we know Jack about steelhead behavior. Then again I don't really care because this genetically retarded fish finally took a fly on the surface, on a river I have been fishing for years and though was of hatchery origin, went back into the river for the reason that it was worthy adversary.
I can't wait to get back at it and this time keep my eyes on the fly for the take. You can learn a lot about swinging flies by skating and those few takes you get every year make all that time well worth it. Do yourself a favor and give it a try, you may be surprised at what you find.