Marchbrown Madness! Last month was the start of the season on the pristine river we fondly call LeDoub. The river poses hard clinical fishing at the best of times, but without wading allowed until May, this was going to be seriously hard fishing in cold conditions. Day 1 led to a constant search, 2rods at all times. 1 dedicated meat-hucker and the other taking care of light nymph and mainly dry prospecting. With water temps at 6C the fish were literally sleeping. But not for the lack of effort. After day 1 as a Recce, i spotted some perfect water right under my nose. Day 02 started with the same ritual. Streamer in icy conditions until sun hit the water then onto the dry fly game.
I decided to hit the place i saw at dusk the day before and as i approached with crouched caution i saw the different eddies, creating lil pools staggered up the sides of the main current. Warmer water. Constant current bringing food even though activity on the water was very low apart from a couple of Marchbrowns dancing in the first rays of sun they'd had in 6 months. I was in a lil beat of skinny-water bliss. Stealth mode kicked in further and a size 14 CDC Marchbrown (seen in pic) as my choice. On my second cast i was into what was soon to become one of the most radical dry fly experiences of my life.
40mins of non stop fish after fish, each taking them down to a lower pool to safely release. Accurate yet quick measures were made on 3 of the 7 in total i caught that day. All over the 45cm mark! Incredible fun on a 15ft 5X leader. The flies tell all the story though. A Doubs trouts teeth can hammer a fly tied with 3 whip-finishes after 2 fish. Hands down! Destroy them!!
After i came to the end of the pool i prospected a bit of the flat water at the top but was time to sit back and enjoy a perfectly made espresso, joint and sit back and soak in the experience. The sight of seeing a 46cm Doubs Trout Dark mottled head breach completely out of the water and absolutely engulf my fly played over and over in my head...After another two hours of prospecting other areas further up river including a frustrating case of sight fishing to a beautiful fish of over 50 completely ignoring not 1 but 3 perfect drifts of the same fly pattern that had just had so much success. Undisturbed too. He wasn't even looking up! I deduced the answer to this riddle was shallow sunlit water was breaking their winter slumber and if a mayfly came past it was over...this water was far and few between on the stretch of river soo i retired back to make a proper fire open up ice cold beer after beer and cook, tie flies and chill hard.
Day 3 started out the same. Streamer trickery from the banks casting meat-huckers on the swing and other tactics without wading in difficult areas but to no avail. I decided to have one last session back at the pools i'd had soo much luck before with. Knowing i had pretty much moved most of the larger fish into lower pools my hopes were not high however sure i have some action nonetheless. Lest to say after a handful of perfect drifts i was in. Missed the first. Too eager! My worst...second also came loose after the first head shakes, i thought to myself. Maybe my luck for this trip is done. But i continued prospecting. Changing up between a brown CDC wing and a Blue Dun CDC wing to see if that was a factor. Most of my fish had come off the Blue Dun winged Marchbrown but maybe i was overthinking it.
What happened next was nothing short of another mind warping experience. Right at the top of the pool i knew there were some very large resident fish. Mostly hidden under a rock, a completely black Doubs trout due to its chameleon camouflage. Radical fish. I had no idea it was out, obviously used to no disturbance in 6 months. My cast had to lay the fly-line onto rocks, grassy outcrops including a special booby prize of a washed up log...nonetheless i set my fly-line over all the structure landing my leader perfectly into the still pool. As the slight current slowly brought my unassuming Marchbrown towards the end of the pool, my fly was about to make contact with the last rock. I raised my rod slowly in an effort to flick it up before it snagged but before my leader could lift the water erupted and BAM i was on, for a split second. Then off! No! Noooo! F&$uuc@k!! Gone....i flicked my line back to inspect what had happened. I knew it was a solid fish by the milliseconds i had it on the end of a taught leader but when i looked closer i saw, to my dismay a pulled hook! A Varivas Wave #14, same hook that had happily landed at least three large browns on the same fly had no been absolutely bullied! Gutted!
Big fish on light dries is the most rewarding yet also can be soul-destroying when this happens. In the Doubs it's happened at least a handful of times to me, over the years. So back to the vice. On with some VMC forged steel hooks and i vow to tame one of these beasts on light leaders and tiny dries. Keep you posted. Over&Out. Ryan. OSCBattalion.