Of Mice And Midnight
This blog installment comes courtesy of fishhound pro Chris "Uber" Raines.
As the summer days heat up and the water clears on the Pere Marquette River, you can find the most diehard within the fly-fishing community gathered for what has become a ritual. With the canoes and the tourist-types wrapping up their day's activities, the hardcore trout bums start gearing up. We slip on our waders and don our headlamps. We put away the 3 and 4 weights and pull out our heavy gear. The 9-foot, 6-weight's my weapon of choice.
Gone are the tippet spools that hold the 4-, 5- and 6X. Out comes the goat rope. I'm talking 15- to 20-pound mono – the stuff you could pull your boat to shore with. And of course the delicate flies are tucked safely away in their tidy little fly boxes. Instead, our boxes are loaded with furry creations that mimic mice, frogs or rats.
Trust me, when you're hunting "the one," you don't want to be under-gunned in any tackle category.
Around here big fish turn nocturnal. With the sun gone and the water quiet, the largest predatory brown trout begin to hunt. I'm talking fish that are measured in pounds, not inches. Under the cover of darkness, these trophies turn their eyes to the surface for any rodents or small creatures that may have tumbled into the water.
Fully suited and ready for action, the game begins. We slowly work known lies and wake our foam-covered, fur-bodied flies with care. The cast is easy: Throw the fly near the bank, let it splat and hang on.
With your fly swinging in the current you can catch a glimpse of it in the moonlight. Carefully quartering downstream, you work each and every logjam. Mend, twitch and strip. Pick it up and do it again. Take a step. Repeat. You fall into a rhythm. The darkness mesmerizes. The repetitive action and late hours take their toll. Then, out of nowhere, BAM! the water explodes, the rod bends and you're on.
The take is like no other. The only way to explain it is to think of a bowling ball being dropped on your fly from 10 feet above. Your rod bends under the weight of the giant German brown trout. It heads for the wood, shakes its head violently, tries to dislodge your fly and your hopes.
Sound like fun? Give it a try on your local river. You may get some funny looks from the guys who are finishing their day just as yours gets underway. But they have no idea.
Chris "Uber" Raines first felt the mighty pull of Michigan's Pere Marquette River in 1987. A half-century later, he's still there and serves as head guide at the Pere Marquette River Lodge. An Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing guide, Raines is also an accomplished centerpin, bait and backplug fisherman. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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