Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little BWOs)
2. Giant Black Stoneflies
3. Light Cahills
4. Cinnamon Caddis (mostly Abrams)
5. Eastern Pale Evening Duns
6. Little Short-horned Sedges
7. American March Browns
9. Green Sedges
10. Little Yellow Stoneflies
11. Golden Stoneflies
Most available - Other types of food:
12. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
13. Inch Worms
Fishing Tales - The Brown I Caught That Got Away
I guess your wondering where this crazy title is going to take you. It's one of those fishing tales or memories
that solidly implanted in my mind, but difficult for me to describe. It will probably excite me more trying to put it
in writing than it will anyone that reads it but here goes.
The Madison River is one of my favorite rivers (along with many, many other anglers) which leads me into
the story's plot. The upper part of the Forty-mile Riffle, a name commonly used for the Madison River
outside of Yellowstone National Park from Hebgen Lake to Ennis, Montana, is designated a wade-only area.
The remainder of the upper river can be fished from a drift boat. I've fished it all to downstream of the Bear
During the prime season in July, the wade only section has about as many anglers as whitefish. Except for
the very uppermost part, just below the lake where the river has some deep, fast water areas, the
discharges are usually such that the river can be safely waded. Even though the Madison is a tailwater
below Hebgen, few anglers actually refer to it as such. As long as your willing to do a little walking, you can
usually find some solitude even when the river is crowded with anglers. There are only a very few areas the
river is difficult to access from the bank.
One day, Angie and I found just that - a section of river bank we felt sure no one had fished. The flows were
such that anyone wading the Madison would easily get tired. The particular area of bank we spotted was not
exactly high, but it was very steep and difficult to get down to the water. Walking along the top of the bank
several feet above the water gave us a very good view of the waist deep water near the bank. I begin to spot
some nice size trout, mostly browns holding in the deep pockets but I had a big problem in getting a fly to
them without spooking the fish.
Few realize it, but there are plenty of rattlesnakes along the banks of that part of the Madison. The year
before that, Angie almost stepped on a huge one that gave us both a big scare and I was being very careful
where I attempted to climb down the steep bank to the water because of that.
In some areas where I spotted a nice trout, I couldn't get down to the water without either falling in or getting
hung up in the thick briers, bushes and brush. It was in the middle of the day, in the middle of July, and the
air temperature was about 90 degrees. The bitting flies were driving Angie and I both nuts in spite of the
insect repellent we were wearing. It was my turn to fish and her turn to carry the video camera.
After making several unsuccessful attempts to climb down to the water to get into position to cast to a large
trout that I had spotted from the top of the bank, I finally discovered a brown trout large enough for me to
ignore the rattlesnakes, briers, thorns, horseflies, Angie's complaints and crawl, slip and otherwise maneuver
down the steep bank into position to cast. I told her to be rolling the camera because I was going to catch
the big brown.
I somehow managed to get down almost to the water in a position to where I could make a short roll cast to
the fish. The trout was behind a large boulder that helped conceal my ordeal but I knew I only had one shot
at it without spooking it. That was only provided I didn't spook the trout getting down the bank. I couldn't see
the trout after getting down to the water level, so I ask Angie if the trout was still there. She gave me the
thumbs up and I made a cast with one of our Brown Sculpin flies. The trout almost jerked the rod out of my
hands. It ran out into the river in the swift current and headed downstream. The drag screamed. I knew my
tippet wasn't going to hold the trout if I added any more pressure. It emptied the 5 weight fly line and went
down into the backing.
I would fight the trout upstream against the rather heavy current and get it to within about ten feet of me
when it would again take off downstream several yards. This went on for at least 15 minutes but it felt more
like an hour. Angie was complaining that her shoulder was hurting having to run the heavy video camera for
so long. A couple of times when the trout was a good ways downstream, I told her to stop rolling tape and to
rest her arm. She did so until I again, would get the fish up to where she could see it through the camera
lens. I finally landed the trout and yes, I did so as usual, without a landing net. There's just something I
dislike about a net hanging on my back and I rarely use one. This time I wished I had one because I had to
reach for the trout about four times before I could grab it by the lip.
Because of the bushes, I had to move a couple of times to get into a better position holding and releasing
the trout in order that Angie could get a clear shot of it. I released the large brown, narrating the entire event
on my remote mike, looked up, and smiled for the camera. The trout was well over 24 inches long.
That night after dinner at the cabin back in West Yellowstone, I decided that I would take a look at the
footage of the big catch. That is something I very rarely do for fear of damaging the tape. I rewound the
digital tape a few minutes and hit play. I saw video that Angie had shot back and forth between the river and
I. The tape continued with the same thing. It showed me fighting the fish for a few seconds and then the
open water of the Madison River when the trout was downstream several yards.
The time code showed there was about fourteen minutes of total video, two minutes of which was rolled with
the lens cover on to get past the first of the tape. That's something we always do because if a tape has any
problems, it is usually on the first few seconds of the tape. The next six minutes was video of me fighting the
big brown trout and the lovely Madison River. The remainder of the video consist of some beautiful shots of
the ground. I could see ants crawling in one shot. I heard me telling Angie to take a brief rest in one section
of tape. We had six minutes of video of the ground, sky and bushes with the camera obviously swinging up
and down, back and forth, etc.
Angie was so tired and hot, she was rolling video of the ground when the camera was recording and looking
at me and the fish when the camera was paused. She is great with a video camera, as good as any
professional TV cameraman as I have ever used and I have used many different ones over the years, but
not when she is tired, hot and being bitten by bugs. I didn't swear. I didn't cry. I just got sick. In my book, in
my profession, the fish got away.
New Schedule of Daily
Mondays: Weather and Stream
Conditions Forecast - Coming Week
Tuesdays: Fly Fishing Strategies -
Which Flies To Use - Coming Week
Wednesday: Fishing Tales
Thursday: Smoky Mountains Fishing
Friday: Getting Started
Saturday: Fly Fishing School
Sunday: This Week's Featured Trout
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