2017 has gotten off to a roller-coaster start. January was average, February was unseasonably warm, March has come in like a lion. Snowfall in this area has been scarce all winter, while rain has been almost common. We have gotten in some great hiking (sometimes muddy), but the snowshoes have only gathered dust all winter long. Who says climate change is only a myth?
It’s been a good winter for fly tying. My fly boxes are full of all of my regular patterns. I have even put together a box of new patterns that I want to try out this year.
I actually made it to 3 fly shows this year – doesn’t always happen – two in Wisconsin and the Hawkeye Show here in Iowa. I keep talking about making it to some of the big shows sometime, but it just hasn’t fit into the schedule yet. The Wisconsin shows had really good featured speakers, and I came away with some new knowledge and some new tricks to improve my catch rate this year. I got to be one of the guest tiers at the Hawkeye Show, and over the course of the weekend got to visit with a lot of really neat people, including Jay “Fishy” Fullum. He was a really nice guy, and one of the most creative fly tiers I have ever met.
In February, I managed to get out fishing a couple of times close to home. The water was usually high and murky, and didn’t lend itself to successful outings. Last week, though, on one of the few nicer days we’ve had in March, I managed to sneak over to Wisconsin to fish one of my favorite streams. I decided to try one of the new patterns in my box, a bright little midge called the “Neon Nightmare.” I wasn’t getting any results fishing a dry/dropper rig, so I switched to a tungsten fly as a lead fly, followed by the midge. That was the trick. I landed a pretty little 10-inch Brown that took the midge on the first cast. About three casts later, I thought that I had hooked a snag, but then it started moving. My next thought, based on how it felt, was that I had foul-hooked the fish. That changed, though, when the fish broke the surface. It was one hog of a Rainbow. When I finally got him landed, he measured out at just shy of 17 inches! In his lip was my size 18 midge! That fly is a keeper.
The day finished out in a small hole where some Browns were surface feeding. I managed to land three of them on midge dry flies before they shut down.
So, the year has started off on some positive notes. The fishing has been pretty good. The fly orders have been steady. Life has been good all around. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the year goes.