Evening craziness

 

Last updated 6/20/2023 at 11:41am

If you want to catch a really big trout during the summer, you should be on the river when the sun sets - and not at home enjoying a romantic evening with your spouse.

Now, I've seen lots of huge trout eagerly feeding in the middle of the day when flotillas of big bugs are on the water and every fish is feasting on the bounty. This happens on the Metolius River during the green drake hatch - and the golden stonefly hatch. On the Lower Deschutes, the big trout will smack big bugs - salmonflies, golden stones and green drakes - in the middle of the day.

Then again, if you're a really sneaky angler, you can find very big fish eating tiny flies in weird spots on any river. Want to find one of these weirdo giants? All you have to do is creep along the banks like a thief. Stop and stare at the water.

Repeat.

"Hey, is that a big fish?"

The biggest trout in any river have to eat, and they often choose out-of-the-way spots that are hard to see from the riverside trail. They also like places with lots of brush, grass, and trees hanging over the water.

Trout like low light - that sunrise and sunset thing - but they will come up and feed in the shade at any time. Even on the Metolius River, which is one of the most-challenging trout streams in the world. Even on the Deschutes River, where the big ones are paranoid.

Evening craziness

Still, your best time for a trout that makes your head spin and hands shake is to get on the water when the light is low. They still like those weird, out-of-the-way spots when the entire river is shaded.

This past week, I found a really big trout rising from time to time in a small, one-person spot on the Metolius. The spot is a small, slowly swirling eddy, and the fish tips and sips bugs while tucked underneath a canopy of bankside grass and an alder bush.

The only way to fish this spot is to sit on the bank - Stay out of the water, dang it! - and flick little casts upcurrent, so your fly drifts downstream to the fish.

Simple, right?

Well, no.

If you slap the water with your line or leader, the fish vanishes. If your fly drags and looks like a tiny motorboat, the fish vanishes. If you make the alder bush shake, the fish vanishes.

So, pestering this fish at dusk, when low light hides some of my many blunders, makes sense. This is also a time when this fish likes to sip tiny little caddis flies - the moth-like bugs with wings like an old-school pup tent - or adult mayfly spinners that have flopped to the water to lay their eggs and die.

This all means I've spent several recent evenings crouched on the Metolius bank, waiting to see a big nose tip up and eat wee little flies. As it gets darker, it gets harder to see the flies. This fish likes the darker times a lot.

If all this sounds insane, well, it is. What makes it really crazy is that I love this so much. My wife, Heather, knows this nighttime lunacy is a big part of me, and we have long agreed that most summer evenings are spent pestering fussy trout. I try to take her out to dinner at least once a week during the summer - to show my love for her has not waned.

Okay, I try to schedule these dinners on nights where high winds or other poor fishing conditions are in the forecast. Still, I really do enjoy these dinners. Really. I hope Heather's friends at Bedouin don't show her this column.

OMG! OMG! OMG!

This past Saturday evening, I was huddled at this spot on the Metolius, hoping that the big fish didn't eat tons of big green drakes during the afternoon. The drake hatch must have been sparse, as the fish soon showed up and began eating mayfly spinners, which are almost invisible on the dark water.

The sensible people were partying at the Rodeo, so I had the Metolius to myself.

I tied on a size 16 rusty spinner (it really is shocking orange, but the fish like it) and gently cast the fly upcurrent. A big nose poked out of the water and ate the dang fly on the first drift.

I usually bungle big fish, but I managed to set the hook without breaking the light leader. I also somehow got the fish to stay away from three big logs in the water. In my first fly-fishing miracle of the summer, I got a 20-inch redsides rainbow in my net.

I snapped a few quick photos, and the trout shot out of my net.

At home, I woke up Heather with the words every woman wants to hear on a balmy, summer evening: "Are you awake? Do you wanna see a photo of a big trout?

 

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