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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Bothell, WA, USA
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    While some articles I've read suggest "skating" October Caddis patterns, my approach has involved dead drifting them. This pattern tends to ride very low, by design, and does not "skate" well, although lots of fish do hit it when it is moved slightly. It is more representative of a spent caddis with some movement of the FEB and the antenna and legs taking place below the surface suggesting a struggling insect. At least that is what I imagine the fish are seeing. Whatever they are seeing, a goodly number of them see this fly as food, not fake.

  2. #2

    Lightbulb Deja vue ...

    ... all over again, kind of.

    This morning I tied this version of an FEB October Caddis. Except it was on a size 8 hook; very light blond elk rump hair was substituted for deer; and the legs were barred red rather than barred orange.

    This afternoon, at 12:38, a big old fish raised its nose just above the surface, sipped in the fly, moved off about 10' and bull dogged on the bottom. Occasionally it would move a few feet one way or the other, or shake its head for a while, but mostly it just held, and held, and held.

    I moved upstream to change the angle of pressure, held the rod tip high to try to lift its head, held it low to the left and pulled, held it low to the right and pulled, all as much as I thought the 4X tippet could handle - and the fish just held, and held, and held. Applied firm pressure, bounced the rod tip, gave the fish slack to see what it would do, and all it would do is hold or move a few feet. Closest I could get was about 25', close enough to see a 30" or thereabouts bull trout.

    After a while I sat down on a rock for a change of pace. Then I decided to head downstream a bit to see if he would turn or follow. Got about 10-15' and all of a sudden, the pressure was gone and the fly popped up out of the water - at 1:06. Twenty eight minutes, and then he was gone.

    I thought maybe the hook broke or straightened. But that was not the case. My guess is that when I moved downstream far enough, the pressure leveraged the hook enough that it released.

    Twenty eight minutes is a long time to have a trout on. And for 4X tippet on a thread furled leader to hold up.

    Quite an interesting experience, for sure.


    P.S. An O. C. based on the foam bodied FEB Hopper has been the fly du jour for the past several weeks in Northern Idaho.

    P.P.S. Nineteen consecutive months and counting successfully fishing the FEB pattern in Northern Idaho and Western Montana in varying sizes and colors for the skwalla, salmonfly, golden stone and O.C. hatches and during the hopper season. It was a real kick catching fishies in January and February on an FEB Hopper !!
    The fish are always right.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Livingston, Montana USA


    Great story Scott. Never fished for bull trout. Sounds like a really big fish. Hope you go back again and hook him again.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    28433 N State Lamoni, Ia 50140


    Has worked on warmwater fish for me and some friends I tied some for.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    shenandoah valley, va


    Neat story John, wouldnt that glass rod lift that bull?

    I decided to tie up a couple of those today, much easier to tie than I thought, the antron furled just like it was supposed to. Nice looking fly. I hope to get a chance to try them out Tuesday. Thanks for sharing.
    "Fishermen are born honest, but they get over it"
    Ed Zern

  6. #6

    Lightbulb Hmmmmmm ...

    Quote Originally Posted by The Chronicler View Post
    Great story Scott. Never fished for bull trout. Sounds like a really big fish. Hope you go back again and hook him again.
    My home water is not a place to fish for bull trout. There are usually some throughout the system but it seems the larger ones are much lower down than I usually fish, and maybe into the Clearwater for the best part of the year.

    If you were to fish for bull trout, you would want to be fishing streamers and not dry flies. I've had six other bull trout, ranging from 15" to 22", all on a PSC and during the late summer when they are starting to migrate upstream to spawn. They are the largest year round resident fish in the system, and some are bigger than some of the stealhead and chinook that make runs up this river. Except for the chinook, the bulls are the strongest fish I've caught, inch for inch and pound for pound. I seriously doubt that I could have landed the 22" bull trout on 4X tippet.

    In over 400 days fishing dry flies on my home water, mostly the large FEBs mentioned above, this is the only bull trout that has even hit a dry, to the best of my knowledge. I was talking to a highly regarded outfitter / guide in town yesterday and he was quite surprised that a bull trout had hit a dry fly, but he agreed that every detail of my experience was consistent with how bull trout normally react to being hooked.

    It would be fair to say that my experience the other day will prove absolutely unique for me regardless how many more days I spend fishing dries on my home water.


    P.S. Jeff - not fishing the CGR 3 wt glass that day. Although that would probably would not have made any difference. With a strong enough leader and tippet, whatever would be strong enough, I would likely have straightened the hook or eventually landed the fish.
    The fish are always right.

  7. #7

    Arrow Just to make the point ...

    ... I went out today and fished a PSC for several hours - in a cold, steady rain with a bit of breeze.

    Result was one 14" bull trout and one 18" bull trout - along with 25 cutthroat ranging from about 10" to just over 18".


    P.S. I fish the PSC on a Class II full sinking line, generally across and down swinging it with short, steady strips, occasionally changing up the angle of presentation and the length and speed of the strips.
    The fish are always right.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Las Cruces, NM


    John, I thought of you when that fire got so bad this summer. Sounds like the damage didn't impact the river too badly?

  9. #9

    Arrow Not quite that simple

    Karen -

    We had a lot of smoke for several weeks, but with the dry weather none of the actual fire residue washed down into the river.

    The big fires in 2013 are another matter. Something like 75-85,000 acres, as I recall, split between one right on the upper river and one near the headwaters of one of the major tributaries. Then we had the near record high snowpack on the Bitterroot the winter of '13-'14 and a very long high runoff. That put a lot of stuff in the river.

    It's my thought that all the fire related stuff that washed into the sytem with the runoff changed the chemistry of the water and disrupted the hatch cycles. So whereas 2012 and 2013 were outstanding hatch and fishing years, 2014 was really not very good in either regard.

    Then we had a near record low snowpack last winter and virtually no runoff, followed by streamflows just above to well below historical lows, on a 105 year record, for most of the summer and into the early fall. Very little flushing action to improve the condition of the streambed. So this year we had another hatchless summer, for all practical purposes, and an even poorer fishing year. My catch rate was only about 50% of what it was in '12 and '13, with a real scarcity of larger fish.

    I talked to a couple guys who are more knowledgeable about the effects of the fires on river systems and fisheries generally, and both had similar thoughts. Not saying that we are right - just that we have something of a consensus.

    Interestingly, while both the quantity and quality of fishies were way down from spring through early fall, at least the quality has improved the past few weeks, with quite a few more larger fish in the system, but still low numbers overall with a real reduction in the number of younger, smaller fish. That doesn't bode well for the near future.

    The fish are always right.

  10. #10

    Arrow Took a little time ...

    Quote Originally Posted by herefishy View Post
    Sounds like the ( fire ) damage didn't impact the river too badly?
    ... and it wasn't really so much "damage" as "effect".

    There was a significant amount of rain on the Bitterroot last weekend that raised the streamflows from about 400 CFS to over 4,000 CFS in not much more than 24 hours. That washed a lot of fire residue of some form or another from this summers fires into the system.

    On Monday, the flows had dropped a lot and the river was running clear with usual great visibility, but it was the color of diluted coffee. Regardless, something around a couple dozen fishies were willing to play with a salmonfly dry* over the course of several hours.

    By yesterday, the streamflows were again down quite a bit and the color had cleared. Even more trouts were willing to engage with the salmonfly dry, and in less time. Good thing since the temps never got out of the 30s, the clouds never dissapated, and the breeze had a real chilling effect.


    * The salmonfly dry is a variation on the FEB Hopper ( http://www.flyanglersonline.com/flyt...tw20090810.php ) tied with orange thread on a size 6 3X long hopper hook, a burnt orange and dark brown antron FEB, medium brown foam body and barred orange MFC centipede legs, with a light blond elk hair wing. That makes 20 consecutive months, and counting, that dry flies based on the FEB platform have fished successfully in Northern Idaho.
    The fish are always right.

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