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Part Seventy-four

Incredible Midge Hatch Makes For Terrific Fishing

By Bob Krumm, Guide and Fly Tier. Sheridan Wyoming

The other day one of the most amazing natural spectacle occurred, a hatch of midges that completely covered the water. The whole surface of the river appeared to be moving. The water surface looked fuzzy. It was though the surface was covered with dark brown or black velvet.

Upon reflection, the numbers of these little cousins of the mosquito must have numbered in the billions. If each insect weighed but a tenth of a milligram, the biomass of all those insects that hatched on a ten-mile stretch of river probably approached 500 kilograms or 1100 pounds. (Pardon me for trying to guess what a midge weighs, I really don't have a clue, I just gave you my best SWAG).

What did all the little insects mean to the trout? Well, judging by all the trout rising, a whole, heck of a lot. On slow stretches of the river where rafts of midges and midge clusters drifted into shadowy areas, the trout were boiling on the midges. There were places that looked like feeding time at the hatchery.

Aside from the frantic feeding activity of the trout, another plus was that the weather was delightful. It was the first seventy-degree day of the year with a nice warm sun glowing in the sky. The wind didn't blow to speak of so the beautiful day shot big holes in my theory that it has to be lousy weather to have great fishing.

It is unusual to have dry fly fishing the entire day at any time during the year, but it seems to me that spring limits the dry fly fishing to either the middle of the day when the blue-winged olives are hatching or the last couple hours of daylight when the midge are clustering. It was hard for me to imagine a day when my clients didn't have to fish nymphs at all, but it happened.

We started off with a small midge cluster pattern, a Puppy Pile, that my son, Clint, invented. This modified Griffith gnat with a CDC wing (tied trude style, on a size 18 dry fly hook), has been a real workhorse pattern for me for the past two years. I have liked to fish it close to dusk to imitate the clusters of two to four midges.

I also like to use the Puppy Pile when the midges are emerging earlier in the day as a strike indicator fly. I usually fish the size 18 puppy pile on 5X tippet and tie on a ten-inch segment of 6X tippet to the bend of the hook and then tie on a size 20 black midge, Adams, or shucked midge.

That's how I rigged them the other morning and the trout took the smaller flies more consistently, but they also gobbled the Puppy Pile during the morning and early afternoon.

As the afternoon wore on, the trout started to seek out the midge clusters. They became a bit wary of the dead drifted flies that my clients, Sydney and Germaine, were presenting. It was then I remembered a trick that Paul Garrison had told me: "Try to position yourself across from the fish. Cast five feet upstream of the fish and two feet beyond. When the fly is nearly to the fish, twitch it so that you move directly in front of the fish and then let it float. The trout usually bomb it once the fly stops."

I gave this bit of advice to my lady anglers, and sure enough, the trout starting hopping on the flies with gusto. The ladies started picking up trout from every pod they cast to.

At one stop, Sydney lost her Puppy Pile/shucked midge combo. She was a ways away from Germaine and me. She didn't have any puppy piles so she decided to try a fly of her own choice. She tied on a size 14 parachute Adams and proceeded to kick trout butts all the way down the river.

Well, the midge hatch should last for quite some time this year not only on the Bighorn, but other rivers and creeks as well. If you want to have some excellent fishing get out and give dry fly fishing with midge patterns a try. I'm betting you won't be sorry. ~ Bob Krumm

About Bob

Bob Krumm is a first-class guide who specializes on fishing the Big Horn River in Montana, (and if there terrific fishing somewhere else he'll know about that too.) Bob has written several other fine articles for this Eye Of The Guides series. He is also a commericial fly tier who owns the Blue Quill Fly Company which will even do your custom tying! You can reach him at: 1-307-673-1505 or by email at: rkrumm@fiberpipe.net

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