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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Falsifly's profile picture
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 660
Falsifly on Dec 2, 2008December 2nd, 2008, 4:01 am EST
Roaring Mad on the Roaring Fork

I hit the trail at Jaffe Park for the twenty minute uphill trek along the Roaring Fork; destination, the large deep pool of mellifluous water tailing the narrow torrent chute. One of many, but this one is my favorite. This would be my first stop from which I would head up river to the old bridge, and then fish down completing a full day. On schedule standing high above the pool, at the edge of a steep rocky ledge, I could see the fish eagerly taking midge pupa; a precursor to the hatch, for which I had come, indicating yet another day of exceptional fishing amid this warm, cloudless, early-spring day. With my approach planned I back tracked to the tail of the pool, and descended the acutely angled slope sending rocks scurrying to waters edge, as I tried slowly side-stepping a stealthy approach. Advancing along waters edge, toward my intended target, the fish continued to flash in the gin clear chasm; a mixed consortium of perfectly spotted browns and prismatic rainbows, all interspersed with a few, rare, ostentatiously bejeweled brookies. Once my footing was precariously anchored in the, quick to shift rocky rubble, I began to ply line, false casting for the desired distance. After stripping the required turns from the reel, and settling into my rhythm, I shifted direction on the final back cast to an upstream slant. On my forward sweep the rod was loaded, at about the 12 o’clock position, with a resistive force halting all further progress. With a quick glance over my right shoulder it was confirmed that my flies were firmly ensconced, high atop a back stabbing aspen. I gently applied the retrieving force, only to lose my tandem tie, to the stingy tree. I retied a new partnership, as that of which had just been confiscated, and once again began the process of doling out my exiguous imitation of fish food; correcting each succeeding back cast, as necessary, to avoid another terminal loss. After successfully completing the required number of cast, to confirm that the fishing would be better if I moved, I picked a new spot and continued the stalk. Once again, with precarious footing established, I divvied up the required line and initiated my change of direction cast, and immediately found myself in a give and take struggle with an unrelenting branch of the same tree. I reeled up all slack and reached to grab the line exiting the rod tip with my right hand; with line firmly grasped I tested the will of the branch. At first my nemesis began to bow as if to give in, but as I gained ground I felt the tensile strength of my leader being tested. In a stand off I decided to exit the fray with a quick snap of my forearm. In slow motion I watched my line shooting towards my face as I stumbled backwards losing my footing. I salvaged my vertical stature in a staccato series of tumbling steps, amid the rolling rocks. Now I was pissed, and I blamed the damned tree. I fixed anew, from the perfection loop in the six inches of .023 amnesia nail knotted to my fly line, as I regained my composure. With the phalanx of branches behind me, indelibly set in my minds eye, I once again returned to my task. As things were progressing smoothly I noticed a nice brown, zigzagging laterally and vertically just below the surface, exposing the white interior of his mouth with each ingestion of the helpless minutiae. His position required a cast, which my backdrop would ensnare, if not performed cautiously. I set up my false casting, behind the fish so as not to spook him, and at the same time maintained vigil on my back cast; with synchronized sweeps of rod and head. Things were very tight, as I adjusted my back cast as close as I could, to the over hanging branches. On the final cast I corrected ever so slightly to my intended target, and caught the G@d D@mned branch again. I immediately launched into a fit of rage, a tantrum resulting in lose of all self control; I faced the water with the tree behind me, I held the rod at the two o’clock position and reeled in all slack until taut, then I gave a forward thrust with all my might. I heard what sounded like a small caliber rifle shot coupled with an unhinging feeling in my wrist. In total disbelief I saw my St. Croix, eight foot, five weight, two piece, Ultra Legend, completely severed three inches above the ferrule, in the typical splintery display of shattered graphite.

I climbed the slope to the trail and made the twenty minute hike back to the truck for a second rod. I always carry a second rod just for these occasions.

When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
Al514's profile picture
Central New York

Posts: 142
Al514 on Dec 3, 2008December 3rd, 2008, 9:43 am EST
We've all had those days...

Great story.
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Shawnny3 on Dec 5, 2008December 5th, 2008, 10:51 am EST
Very nice, as always, Falsifly.

I look forward to the sequel, St. Croix, First Blood, Part II.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
Eastern PA

Posts: 31
Trowpa on Dec 7, 2008December 7th, 2008, 1:51 am EST
Great story. Nice to know these experiences are not unique to my brand of luck.
Grandview, Wisconsin

Posts: 1
Hawkeye1967 on Dec 21, 2008December 21st, 2008, 10:00 pm EST

Really enjoyed the story. Reminds me of many an early morning on the Montreal. Unfortunately, trying to cook birch branches doesn't work as a shore lunch. I have often thought that while I am struggling with one of those trees that just jump out at your line at the very moment that you have one of those beautiful browns targeted, that the fish gather around to comment on my irstwhile technique employed to extricate myself from the clutches of this Loki of the forest.

See you at the Club, Falsifly.
Shoot low, they might be crawlin'.
Falsifly's profile picture
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 660
Falsifly on Dec 22, 2008December 22nd, 2008, 3:10 am EST
Well, good morning John, what a pleasant surprise. It would appear that this story has been cast upon the connective water, which so many of us share access, and I know who to thank. Anyway, please jump in, as the water here is much warmer this time of year; but the catching, like that of the trout, can be fickle.

See you at the Club.
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
Southern calif.

Posts: 45
Hellgramite on Dec 30, 2008December 30th, 2008, 9:53 am EST
Lets see last time i went fishing i took my kid and by the end of the day thank God we ended up with two snapped rods.One got rolled up in the back window and the other she fell on.That's it.

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