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

Specific LocationBennett Spring State Park, Lebanon Missouri
Dates FishedApril 24-26th, 2019
Time of DayAll day
Fish CaughtRainbow Trout
Conditions & HatchesMostly, cloudy the first couple of days with some light rain. Sun increased Thursday afternoon and Friday.

Details and Discussion

Gt2003
Broken Arrow, Ok

Posts: 25
Gt2003 on Apr 28, 2019April 28th, 2019, 10:58 pm EDT
I embarked on the 3 1/2 hour journey to Weavers tackle shop and Campground on Tuesday night 4/23/19 for 2 1/2 days of fishing and camaraderie. The weather looked questionable prior to the trip but the rain ended up being light showers at the heaviest.

The cabins were more than adequate for our lodging needs. In fact, we got the cabins for $50 per night each. I believe that's because we rented for 2 or more nights and because it was middle of the week. GREAT DEAL. Weavers is always a good place to stay, the store always has what we need and the staff are always friendly.

I am happy to report that I had a successful first outing trout fishing with the fly rod. I fished mainly wooly buggers and maribou jigs, some type of "muddler" and even a glo-ball and MegaWorm. I caught fish on ALL of them, even a few around 1 1/2 pounds. Wow, the "connection" between the line and the fly was surprising to me. It felt like the trout were hammering whatever I was throwing. I've never felt this type of "connection" with spinning gear and sometimes have trouble feeling fish on spinning gear. It was a strange sensation.

I caught 15-20 fish the first day and 6-8 fish the 1st half of day 2. I finished the trip with spinning gear as the crowds increased and I was less comfortable using the fly rod with the bigger crowds. I am not near perfect but feel solely committing to fly fishing for a day and a half really benefitted my technique. I was able to learn to load the rod and get a better feel for it. Next time I will fish slightly heavier flies as the larger fish are generally closer to the bottom OR possibly add a sinking front section of line??? I need to learn to roll cast and feel I could have been more successful had this cast been in my arsenal. I did have the opportunity to watch a couple of fellow fly fisherman who has obviously been doing this much longer than I. The smoothness of their casts and the distances they achieved were very impressive.

Here's the only stringer I kept. All the others went back for the rest of the fisherman to catch. Thanks for looking!

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Jmd123
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on May 2, 2019May 2nd, 2019, 8:34 am EDT
"I finished the trip with spinning gear as the crowds increased and I was less comfortable using the fly rod with the bigger crowds."


When you start flinging a fly line around, other folks will give you room! Unless they want a hook in the ear (which I have done to myself, btw).


"Wow, the "connection" between the line and the fly was surprising to me. It felt like the trout were hammering whatever I was throwing. I've never felt this type of "connection" with spinning gear and sometimes have trouble feeling fish on spinning gear. It was a strange sensation."

THRILLING, isn't it? Having your hand on the line when a big fish hits transmits a shock wave straight up to your brain through your arms. It is a much more intimate experience off fighting a fish, one which I prefer! And on a fly rod, I fight all of my fish by hand, never using a reel drag for control, even on browns up to 18", rainbows up to 18.5", and smallmouth up to 20" (peruse my past posts for pics of some of these).


I had a buddy once criticize me for not using my drag to fight fish...in contrast to my original flyrod mentor who once chastised me for "fiddling with my reel" during a fight with a nice brown. I guess in my case, it's that old saying, "a fly reel is just for holding line". Okay, there was that two-foot spotted gar one night in Texas many years ago that made my reel scream...couldn't land him anyway with those scissor-like jaws and no steel leader...

BTW, WELL DONE SIR!! Those 'bows are plenty big enough to have given you a serious tussle on fly tackle. I hope this experience turns you on to the sport even more, until your friends look at you in amazement asking, "how the heck is he catching all those fish on that goofy-looking rod?" Or having strangers you are outfishing, BADLY, with fly tackle approach you to ask, "What are you using???" Tight lines again next time out, and may fly fishing put many smiles on your face for decades to come.

Jonathon

P.S. I've managed two nice 'gills so far this year on the fly, because our weather has been rotten (cold and wet) and trout fishing is yet to be comfortable (or safe). Get a few more for me until I get to go after my own!


No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Iasgair
Iasgair's profile picture
Colorado

Posts: 148
Iasgair on May 2, 2019May 2nd, 2019, 10:24 am EDT
Well done Broken Arrow. Nice looking stringer too.

Remember, the only way you're going to get better is get on the water and fish. It's better to practice roll casting on the water too because of the water tension on the line.

Nothing compares to fly fishing when it comes to being connected with the flies and fish. Conventional gear just doesn't feel the same in my opinion.
Martinlf
Martinlf's profile picture
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on May 2, 2019May 2nd, 2019, 11:55 pm EDT
Thank you for the report. You're hooked, and in a good way. Enjoy.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Gt2003
Broken Arrow, Ok

Posts: 25
Gt2003 on May 3, 2019May 3rd, 2019, 2:36 am EDT
Thank You Gentlemen! There are plans to keep the fly rod in action with some bluegill and bass during the summer months. The wife likes using a fly rod too. Hoping to take her along on the next trout adventure.
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on May 3, 2019May 3rd, 2019, 7:07 am EDT
Jonathon,

Are you saying that no matter how big the trout or bass is you never play it off the reel? You just strip line in by hand and never put the fish on the reel? I guess you have never hooked a trout that can strip off all yourt fly line and 30 yards of backing on the first run. fish like that have to be played on the reel to have any sort of control and expectancy of landing the fish.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Jmd123
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on May 9, 2019May 9th, 2019, 6:28 am EDT
"I guess you have never hooked a trout that can strip off all your fly line and 30 yards of backing on the first run. fish like that have to be played on the reel to have any sort of control and expectancy of landing the fish."

Not yet, Matt. My biggest brown is 18"; my biggest rainbow is 18.5"; and both my largest bass (large-and smallmouth) are 20". Then again, I'm fishing smaller water than you, so those really big guys are a lot rarer (and probably smarter with all the pressure). So, so far all fought by hand, but all of my reels have a decent drag on them so when I need it, it's gonna be there.

So far the only fish that has ever made my fly reel scream was that 2-foot spotted gar in the San Marcos River way back in 2005. Freaked me out, not expecting it in that river but you never know...and did not land that one, I was too high above the water line to use my net and it just cut the leader with it's teeth when I tried to lift it. I have landed northern pike up to 25" on fly rods, and no drag on those guys either, fought them all by hand.

If I ever get fishing with you Matt and I hook one of those big fellas, like I said the drag is there when I need it...just haven't yet!

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...

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