I decided to fish close to home and in a section that rolls through a small neighborhood. No, it’s more like a series of cabins. It was an odd choice. A great choice during the day, but at night I always try to stay away from light sources because I’ve learned that a even a dim light from a house in your line of sight can screw with your night vision. But sometimes there’s no explaining why our decisions on where to fish are made. It just felt right. You know what I mean.
So instead of tramping through the woods to get to the stream, I listened to the sound of the aluminum bars on my boot soles performing a tap dance down the asphalt road. A Welsh Corgi heard the dance too, and protested as I passed. The dog owner slid the glass door open to quiet the dog and bring it in to a warmer place. I saw the dog owner do a double take, then stand by the door and watch me pass. It was 10:30 pm, thirty-one degrees Fahrenheit, and starting to sleet. Fair to say he was surprised to see a fisherman.
As I rounded the bend and headed to where I wanted to put in, I saw one thing that I hadn’t accounted for when doing the little planning in my head for where to fish. Christmas lights.
To tell the truth, it was fun. The only thing better would have been for the sleet to change to snow, and create a blanket for the lights to reflect upon … and sleigh bells. To tell more truth, I caught fewer fish in the sections that had Christmas lights, but that just might be because I didn’t fish as well in the odd light they created. One thing people don’t seem to realize is that it’s not really very dark at night. Even in a remote area with no artificial lights, there’s always some light from stars, the moon, or the glowing horizon of the next town, and once your eyes adjust it’s remarkable what you can see.
So I fished big wets mostly across and down. I did better when I gave the flies time to sink and get a little lower, and sometimes I added a split shot in between my two flies. It’s been a month or so since the night fish have been very active on the surface for me, and I’m assuming that’s because of the cold, but I can’t say for sure because I’ve never night fished this late into the season, and I never night fished through strands of Christmas lights.
I caught enough fish tonight to keep it interesting, and to feel like I was learning something. I often stripped the wets off the bank like a streamer. Sometimes up and across. Slower, foot long strips seemed to work better than twitches or quick bounces. Nothing of any size tonight. Mostly little guys.
As I worked downstream, I covered a lot of the water, but really only did well in the slower stuff, and as with most nights, I picked up fish in patches.
I’ve been experimenting with spinning fox hair for shoulders underneath the hackle collars on my wets, because even with a good dubbing ball to prop up the hackle I feel like it still folds down against the body too much when swung or stripped, losing too much of that illusion of size that a full hackle can give. A little fox hair spun in a dubbing loop does exactly what I was looking for. I took the idea from the Intruder, a popular steelhead fly.
So, here’s my version of the Silver Doctor:
You can see the fox hair shoulders underneath the hackle and wing. It really helps to maintain some bulk to the front of the fly.
Will these wets catch more fish because they look a little thicker in the water? I don’t know, but there’s only one way to find out, and I don’t fish wet flies during the day.
Sometimes I ask myself why in the hell am I wading through water and fishing in the dark. My best answer ….. because nobody else is.
If you fish at night, drop me a line sometime. I’d love to hear what works for you.
Enjoy the day.
T R O U T B I T T E N
I admire your persistance when most have put their fly rods away and dream of a new season at their tying bench you are still fishing.When i was a younger man I loved to night fish.I was out there by myself and its a feeling thats hard to describe.I loved the fact that your other senses re more acute in the darkness.You hear things that you didnt hear during the day.I caught many brown trout at night.I used deer hair concoctions that were pretty gawdy but caught a lot of trout.It seemed at night you had to give them an xtra second to inhale the fly.I cant do it anymore I have trouble wading in the day never mind at night ,but i still fly fish and tie.Tight lines,I enjoy your articles.