Mad River Float

I had the opportunity yesterday to float the Mad River in my friend Donnie’s new Hyde Rocky Mountain Skiff.

It was a tough day to be out on the river. We were originally slated to be fishing a Musky Tournament in the creeks where the guys in the bass boats with conventional tackle can’t go. But an all day soaking rain on Saturday had muddied up the creeks. So we went with the back-up plan to float our local trout stream in hopes that a slightly rising river would move the fish out from their holes. In a testament to just how dry we’ve been here lately, even after the all day soaking rain, the river barely budged up an inch. The Mad was still low and gin clear.

On top of the gin clear water what we found was a day with 20-30mph winds and fish that were hunkered down. On days like that with little to no bug activity, except for a spotty, late-day, midge and BWO emergence, are the perfect kind of days for throwing big streamers on full sinking lines. Huckin’ meat is not something I do with confidence, but is in fact one of Donnie’s favorite things to do. I rigged my 8wt and brought 5wt for back up. He rigged an 8wt and a 5Wt with full sinking lines.

We threw cast after cast covering water like mad men, banging the banks. And by the afternoon we were beginning to think the skunk was there to stay. It was pretty brutal. We should have moving more fish and at least getting some good follows by that time, ut between the two of us had only had two strikes and a flash or two.

At about 2:30 the fishing got interesting and we started to see more fish. I’m not sure if it’s the location or time of day and conditions or what. Who knows. But the river started to heat up after 2:00.

We managed to have shots at a few really good fish. I missed hooking up with a nice 20″ fish in a spot most people wade right through. He swiped at the fly but wouldn’t really commit. Angler error.

Donnie saved the day though with a killer 25″ Brown Trout.

Donnie threw to s a spot that looked absolutely featureless and un fishy in the traditional sense. Nothing un-usual or interesting, just another spot in the miles of river we covered that day. But out of this featureless nothing -to-write -home-about hole a nice fished rolled up on his yet-to-be-named secret sculpin pattern. Donnie missed his strike. In a knee jerk scared-as-shit reaction type mode Donnie threw back the exact spot with a splat that would make a dry fly purist cringe and what the text books tell you will send trout running to the next county. However, the trout in a similar knee-jerk scared-as-shit kind of way hit back in an epic boil of splashing water, and hooked up.

With 12lb tippet on there, Donnie horsed him to the net and we had him in the boat. What a doozie! Great job Donnie. That one nice fish turned a tough and frustrating day into a great and memorable one!

Throwing big meat, is a one or two fish a day game, it’s about size, not numbers.  That’s something you hear over and over again, and that’s because it’s true. Brutal or not it’s worth it and that’s why we do it.

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