Enter the Dark

A small mouse slowly paddles across a wide flat of dark water after mistakenly falling in.  He’s half way across when all of a sudden the water erupts as a large brown thrashes through the surface and attacks the helpless prey.  Dinner has just been had and this brown slowly lurks back to his spot behind an old mossy log.  This predatory instinct was what we were hoping for when we recently decided to head to the river at 10PM on a Monday evening.  Travis and I had never fished at night and after picking up a few tasty mice morsels from the Grizzly Hackle we were ready.  We had high hopes despite our lack of experience and the vibe was good.

fly, fishing, montana, night, mousing, orvisAfter the drive to our location we were ready to get going.  The 5 and 7 weights came out and we quickly rigged up.  We had a decent assortment of patterns to choose from and a few moments later we both had flies tied on and ready to roll.

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The sky was clear and a 3/4 moon sat high in the sky to the east.  Generally I’ve heard that mousing is not as good during a full moon, but we figured it was a myth.  The temperature was hovering in the low 50s, and we bundled up and slung our packs over our shoulders.  We slowly waded upstream in the dark.  It was a very cool experience being out in the water at night.  We could hear fish rising occasionally and walking through the riffles always seemed to elicit a boil in the water as a fish swam off.  We soon started covering the gloomy water with our mice.  It was difficult trying to determine how far you were actually casting and what kind of action you were imparting on the fly.  It was blind fishing at it’s finest.

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We continued to fish upstream, sliding mice across pool after pool with no luck.  We knew our fly was getting over the fishes heads; it was just a matter of finding the right fish with an angry personality.  A few more holes and Travis and I were slowly fishing a nice left bank.  Out of nowhere a huge thrash on the surface erupted and then immediately went quiet.  Travis had just missed the first eat of the night.  The fish had failed to inhale and after a few more casts we decided to move on.  We were renewed with confidence and kept the mice train rolling upstream.  Finally we got to nice flat.  The water was shallow but browns almost always call this stretch home.  The technique was simple.  Cast across and slightly downstream to the far bank and let it drift about ten feet.  Then begin a very slow on/off retrieve with a little wiggle in the rod tip.  The mouse would swing across and down and each drift left us tensely waiting.  I had been hitting a nice corner for about ten minutes.  I was finishing my drift when all of a sudden a thrash erupted and my line went tight.  My first eat and I was hooked up to a large trout who was gator rolling just twenty feet away.  Travis cruised in with the net and we had our first fish on a mouse.  It was a nice brown and we quickly pulled out the light to snap a few photos.

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It was 12:50 AM and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  After a few clicks of the camera we put the brown back into the black water and watched him slink back into the darkness.

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We weren’t done yet though.  Travis quickly went back upstream and resumed casting a tasty hole.  After a couple casts there was a heavy splash but no tight line.  Next cast and the same thing.  This fish was hungry and ready to feast.  A couple more casts later and he once again attacked the fly.  Travis set his rod high and a thunderous eruption began on the surface.  A few short seconds later and the mouse went flying out of the fishes mouth.  Ahhhhhhhhhh shit!  We let him rest and continued to push upriver.  Another hour of fishing had left us with no eats and we turned to head back to the truck.  Travis had to have another shot at that fish and he once again began swinging his fly across the hole.  On the third cast deja vu occurred.  The fish ate and again thrashed on the end of Travis’ line before somehow spitting the hook.  Excited and bummed at the same time we moved back downstream in the dark.  When we got back to the truck it was 4AM.  It had been a successful night.  It wasn’t red hot by any means but we had caught fish and had some very memorable eats.

-Zack

6 Responses

  1. Glad to see you guys out in the dark! 1 for 1 is good when you’re mouse fishing! Don’t get used to it though! You’ll get tons of boils and fewer hookups. Well done. We’ve got some nighttime browns coming that will make you hud your pants! haha

    May 29, 2013 at 9:42 am

  2. Lou

    FlyFin-atic Lou here (Spokane is ‘here’) to say, well gee Boys, “IT” only took 1 day (from my yesterdays comment in your “about” pg., and wa-la, a “gripping tale of mice & men” (oh, I mean big browns) – NICE ! Ah the memories, once again, flooded my cholesterol-laden brain arterioles ! Remember I am a ripe young 60 now ! But a long time (even during the Navy yrs.) Jeeper/Camper/Overlander/FlyFin-atic (not necessarily that priority) & just as willing as 40 yrs. ago, but my Bod thinks otherwise (ugh) ! Could of / should of made a video, using red or green lighting or . . . !? I’ve been wearing my led-head gear and click the switch to red (for night vision) and it does not seem to intimidate the fish, so . . . ! Most of my night fishing has been from my raft over the Hex or Oct. Caddis hatches . . . “they” seem to whisper, “Mmmmm yum yum!,” as “they” break the surface film & devour my (sacrificial) offering ! Keep on living, loving your “Time” – Time is “of the essence!” and ever so fleeting as you get older. Remember that, for Tomorrow may not come ! Keep the Passion Alive Boys; it certainly helps me keepin’ on ! THANKS.

    May 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm

  3. Great stuff guys! Look forward to seeing more. Also, if you guys tie your own flies you might consider tying those patterns with a stinger hook. Seems we miss a lot less at night when we do that. Again, great stuff!

    May 29, 2013 at 6:01 pm

  4. Pingback: Photos of the Day: Nighttime Mousing for Big Browns in Montana | orvis.com/news

  5. Pingback: Fly Fishing Mouse Patterns - Cast and Blast Montana

  6. Pingback: Repost: Photos of the Day: Nighttime Mousing for Big Browns in Montana | Orvis News

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