I don’t think you ever can truly figure out trout. But, that’s a good thing.

Last Sunday, I found a decent morning bug hatch, and fish rose willingly. The late-afternoon hatch was decent, but rises were few. This was the opposite of last time, when a dead morning later transformed into an epic, afternoon Sulphur hatch (see post here).

I was first to a stretch of the river and was working rising fish. I landed quite a few on Midge emergers and felt fortunate to have some fish under my belt. A size 22 CDC Midge Emerger in olive provoked an aggressive grab from a very large rainbow that pulled line four times. It surged out of the net before I could snap a pic, unfortunately.

I saw some beautiful browns. Nearly all didn’t seem to be stocked fish, but it’s tough to know for sure sometimes.


A few hours later, the river was packed with anglers. I was fishing to rises downstream of me. I could see a whole wave of rises further down and thought I could eventually make my way there.

An angler on the bank saw me, rushed below me, and waded in right below where the trout were rising. He made eye contact but didn’t wave or say anything. I grit my teeth and elected to stay quiet. I didn’t want him to ruin my day. The fish largely stayed down. This is an angler who fishes a great deal and does very well.

Honestly, I felt unjustly busted but tried not to feel resentful.

So, all this to say: It was a good reminder to me to exercise good etiquette always. It sucks to get up at 2:30 am, drive a few hours, find fish rising, only to have someone cut me off from a swarm of rises, and put down the fish closest to me. As Jamie Carr noted in his prior post, how we treat others and how others treat us while fishing has a long echo.

The afternoon was slow. I again ran into Charlie, the guide who works the Delaware’s West Branch. He’s a great angler and knows a ton.

I was hoping for another strong Sulphur hatch. There was good bug activity, but not many rises. Mole Flies, for the first time, didn’t provoke any takes. I did see a good fish rising in shallow water and threw an experimental Sulphur spinner. It was a clean grab and a clean hook set, and I was off to the races. Unfortunately, the 7x snapped on some structure. Busted again! I’ll be back for it, though.

I continue to be shocked at how many big fish slide into very skinny water to feed!

All rises stopped at about 5 pm, as a thunderstorm brewed and the humidity surged. I think the insects knew what was coming. Once the bug activity stopped, the fish emptied the shallow water, and I reeled up.

So, I “only” fished 12 hours and made back home for family dinner. I drove through torrential rain on the way back. A free car wash!

Hope everyone is getting by. Just learned that a friend’s brother-in-law passed away from Covid-19. He felt fine one day but had a temperature. A week later, he died. My in-laws got the virus and fortunately survived. But, know that the virus comes in quick and hot.

Wear a mask and wash your hands, please? I cannot believe it is July already….


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10 thoughts on “Busted

  1. Sorry for your experience, but lots of rude people on the rivers this year, or maybe they are just concentrated on our popular rivers. I have actually been asked if I was done fishing cause “everywhere was crowded” (and nobody in sight of me upstream and down)! I had avoided the skunk in high-water, and usually fish only a few hours at a time, so let them flail the water ineffectively.
    Tailwaters are the big draw this year considering the droughty weather. This goes for the Magalloway for sure, and I imagine the Connecticut in Pittsburg. Haven’t fished the Farmington in a while but will join the maddening crowds soon enough!

    1. It’s the year for fly fishing, Steve. I think many folks are unemployed and under-employed and need a break from quarantine. I’m just trying to accept it….

  2. Congrats for not letting someone else’s bad etiquette ruin your day. That may be a bigger victory than catching a big brown on 7x tippet. Shows a lot of character.

    1. Bill, you’re far too generous! I have a quick temper and have to guard myself in tense situations!

  3. I am finding with more anglers on the water you are getting more opportunities to see bad behavior ! I have decided that many years on the Salmon River has allowed me to accept this and move on ! Maybe they don’t know or just don’t care .

    1. True, Darrell. We just have to “move on” and accept the situation of this summer’s high volume of anglers.

  4. I like the challenge of fishing a run that someone else has just fished through. Can be quite rewarding as they may not have been using the right flies or technique. Taking a nice fish definitely helps with the frustration. I’ve done it many times.

  5. Great job staying level headed Jo, I know the feeling of wanting to tell someone they just screwed you and to use their head next time, but I think this approach will end in an argument 99% of the time, and your point won’t make it home.

    The last time this happened to me I ended up leaving the spot and walking away with steam coming out of my ears, not very productive! What I ended up wishing for though, instead of less anglers or more tailwaters in the summertime, was a different work schedule. I work M-F, 9-5ish, which means my recreational fishing times line up with most of the population’s. I would gladly work a Saturday here and there if it meant I got a Tuesday in return to head to a lonely river.

    In the end, I really should thank that bozo who front-ended me on the river for getting me to think all this over (but I won’t, cause I’m not over it!)

    1. Andy, time heals all wounds, I suppose? I guess it helps if we “focus on the long game” and the decades of fly fishing we have left? I am older than you are, and so, you’ll have more time than I do!

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