Mice in Mass?!

Mice are hands down the most fun fly to fish. There’s not even a question. Between the viscous strikes and crazy jumps, and the fact that mice bring up the biggest fish in the river, there’s plenty of reasons to fish with mouse flies. 
I was fortunate enough to fish in Alaska a few years back, for giant, bloodthirsty trout. Most of these rainbows had never even seen a fly, so the fly of choice was a Morrish Mouse. It was the greatest fishing experience of my life. And when I got back to MA, I began to ask myself “why don’t I fish with mouse flies here?”. So I tried. And I never looked back.
Someone likes mice…

I really don’t believe that trout eat a ton of mice in Massachusetts, but they are very opportunistic feeders. I really believe that a big trout would rather take one mouse than 100 midges, which is why mouse flies work. And mouse flies don’t work everywhere, but you can get away with them in more places than you’d think.

The way I think about it, there are three requirements for a body of water to be mouse-fishable…

  1. It must be decent size – don’t fish mice in a tiny brookie stream
  2. It must hold some decent fish – really anyplace that is stocked will have big enough fish
  3. It must contain some flat stretches – fish mice on big, flat stretches (without tons of rocks) with a slight current, but not a super fast current
So if you find a river with these conditions, think about tying on a mouse. I fish mice at…
  • Nissitissit River
  • Squannacook River
  • Swift River (especially right below the Route 9 Bridge)
  • Shawsheen River
  • Ipswich River
  • Millers River
  • And many more
So lets get into mouse fishing tips. First, the best time to fish mice is when trout are freshly stocked. These trout are dumb, and jump all over the place. I find I have a lot more success fishing with mice when the fish are already on the surface (fishing them during the hex hatch is the best), but sometimes when nothing is hitting dries, a big mouse will draw them up. Next, you will catch a variety of fish on mice. I have caught everything from 10 inch rainbows to 3 pound browns. 
And as far as actually fishing them, you want to cast slightly upstream across a flat stretch of water, and strip it back towards you as it drifts downstream. Generally I like to cast all the way across the river, so I’m covering the most water. A 5 weight is actually fine for this, because you don’t need very big flies. 

    

Now which flies are the best? While, I generally like to stay away from deer hair mice. They are hard to throw with a 5 weight, have trouble sitting up right in the water, and don’t have the best hook up rate. The middle picture is of a Morrish Mouse: my go-to mouse. The look a bit odd from above, but these are small, have a great profile in the water, and have an incredible hook up rate. Just skate them back across the river, and get ready! And the third mouse is another good one, but it doesn’t see as much water time as the Morrish, mostly because its not high floating. It is killer at the Swift though.

One night on my computer I came across (THIS) video. It shows a new mouse pattern, with very good instructions. It is a variation of a Morrish Mouse, but I actually prefer it. It will be getting a lot more time next Spring.

So there are the basics of fishing mice in Mass. It really does work, and is the most exciting way to fish. But be warned, sometimes mice just don’t work, so know when to switch. It’s not uncommon to go an entire day without getting a bite, so I usually give them a few hours before tying on a nymph. However, I’ll put in three hours of fishing for one viscous strike on the mouse.

By the way, mouse flies are best right after stockings occur, and during the summer, but I have caught fish on them during the Winter. Especially at the Swift!

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