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I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some excellent fishermen as a result of this blog, those with similar ideals have contacted me and when things work out I get the opportunity to learn new skills and gain perspective from other anglers. A fella by the name of Carl had left me a couple notes and during my busy last week of the season his offer of a night adventure for big trout on a mouse pattern finally got to me, I had to go. We met at ~6pm, made the short drive then tackled the half hour hike into the middle of a secluded valley. I knew right away Carl and I were going to get along well as the trip to the stream yielded talk of all kinds of trouting. The sun came to rest as we hiked and was all but gone by the time we rigged our rods.
Taking a trout on a mouse pattern was high on my list of things to tackle in the Driftless Area and with Carl’s advice it became a reality at ~8pm. The sun was gone and I couldn’t see a thing, nothing. This is a totally different kind of fly fishing and Carl has it down to a science. Within minutes of casting I had a couple heart pounding strikes on my fly, the first couple I missed likely a result of setting the hook to early. I heard Carl’s voice just a bit away from me, he had hooked something… a freakin bat. Turning my head lamp on I could see dozens of bats skittering very close to the waters surface, apparently Carl has had this happen before. Shortly after the bat was removed I managed my first Brown on a mouse pattern. At [singlepic id=2923 w=280 h=200 float=left]~12inches I could have gone home right then and there and been very pleased. A goal I’ve had for a couple years had just been completed but there was plenty of time left before the 11pm curfew and we had water to fish. For the next couple hours we would proceed to stumble through the night hearing the random rise from trout after trout.
Not knowing this water made it a bit more difficult, I didn’t have a daytime visual to referance in my brain and that made casting a bit more challenging. I got hung up a couple times and I lost a couple flies simply because I overestimated the distance I needed to cover with my cast resulting in a handful of mouse flies landed right in trees on the opposite bank. Carl put me on each spot and gave me clues as to how far I needed to cast and what obstructions [singlepic id=2926 w=280 h=200 float=right]were in the creek, valuable information when you can’t see a thing and turning the headlamp on would negate the opportunities we were after.
The sounds… sounds from all directions, animals, bats, the creek and rising trout. Carl had been out doing this for a while and was accustomed to tromping around in the middle of the night, this takes…balls, plain and simple. Frankly I was glad to have someone else around to get me accustomed to the idea of night fishing for trout in a secluded valley. Each section we fished gave up trout, they just crushed the Morrish Mouse pattern I tied long ago for this exact moment. Many fish were missed, I’m convinced some of them were simply too small to get the #4 hook in their mouths, amazing the size of trout that would attempt to eat this fat offering. After each spot we would turn on the headlamps to get a better idea of where we were and what we had just fished, your depth perception goes with the light. As the night wore on and our time grew short Carl put me on a hole that had a spring feeding it from one side, shortly after I made my first cast I landed a gutty looking 14inch Brown, each cast after that produced a trout between [singlepic id=2929 w=420 h=340 float=left]14 and 17inches all sporting fat bellies. I landed close to a dozen trout on a mouse pattern the first time I gave it a shot, this was primarily due to Carl’s instruction and allowing me to be the first one to fish each spot. At the stroke of 11pm we promptly made the thirty minute hike out of the valley in the pitch black. Carl, thanks for pushing me to get out this last week of the season, I can honestly say this was one of the best times I’ve had all season, heart pounding, adrenaline rushing adventure into the night. Thanks for that. For the rest of you, below are a couple general observations I gained from fishing with Carl. The potential for taking some of the largest trout in Southeast Minnesota exists with this style of fly fishing, if you can… try it, you won’t be disappointed.
- Cut your leader back to ~2-3ft long ending with 0x or a larger diameter mono.
- Attempt to make the loudest splash you can with your mouse pattern when you cast it.
- Pull ~3ft of line in over 3-4seconds (creating a small wake behind the pattern) then allow a pause lasting 2-3 seconds. The trout tend to hit on the pause.
- Target slower wider areas of creek that you know to hold trout, this will allow the presentation above to be more affective.
- Bring a headlamp with a Red light function, do not fish with the headlamp on under any circumstances.
- Remember that the stream in the evening is the same as during the daylight hours, there is just more activity from everything out there.
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Very nice, man. My intentions for mousing were the same but will have to wait until next year when I am near good water every weekend night.
It was good you had a guide to get you around. Tackling strange surroundings in the inky darkness would be unsettling if alone…
Yeah!! That’s so sweet– And I can’t believe how effective it was for you even for smaller fish. Great job.
WFF – thanks for the info. I’ve always heard that the biggest fish in a stream are meat eaters and that they hunt at night. Looks like you have a way to tap into that. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks guys, mousing has the potential to produce the largest trout out here in large numbers. The fact that the larger trout are out in the dark combined with the fact that they can’t see you gives the angler the advantage. That said, this is something that could take a while to get just right. I can honestly say that I heard some seriously large splashes in the night.
So, how does one deal with a hooked bat? Not sure I’d want to handle one.
From other stories I’ve heard about contact with a bat, the medical folks will prescribe a course of rabies shots (teeth are so fine you can’t tell if you’ve been bit, and they often carry the virus).
I have to admit the bat wasn’t touched, I believe it was removed with a boot holding it down. Not sure how the bat made out after but rabies is not something I want to mess with.
Very cool…I’ve experimented with a couple mouse patterns here in the Ozarks at night and have struck out so far. Your post gives me the urge to get out and try it again before fall is gone.
Too cool! It always surprises me the how greedy some of those small fish are. Great read.