As I approached the water's edge I stopped to survey the area and notice as usual there was no surface activity to have me wishing I had tied on a dry. I begin working my usual spots with no success, so time to start experimenting with other patterns. I don’t know about you guys but after about 15 to 20 minutes of one pattern with no success, I change flies and tactics. It is now and no takes after over an hour of fishing numerous patterns. I continue to work my way up the gouge, fishing some familiar places and some I haven’t tried this season. I kept noticing a few rainbows every 15 to 20 minutes breaking the surface but not actually feeding on top. I had seen this before here and knew that the nymph and dry were not the flies I needed to use to make a connection. So what next, I am now well into my second hour with no trout landed and still trying to beat the skunk. I knew I had to go with a pattern that would just break the surface and at the same time stay up high in the water column. My logical choice was a red soft hackle fly size 12. I don’t know the exact name of the pattern, but I had fished it in similar situations here before and had success. It is getting close to lunch and with more confidence and my new red hackle fly, I begin casting upstream and letting the fly slowly drift back over trout I continue to see feed subsurface. A few missed takes made me work even harder to touch my first trout. Some of you may see where this is going, and say he found the magic fly that finally proved to be the charmer, not so. I gave the fly it’s more than fair share of making a connection but to no avail. I’m one to never give up on solving the lockjaw problem of fish on certain days, so I had one last thing I wanted to try before the generations were turned on and I had to call it a morning.
With an occasional trout still feeding subsurface, I decided I would tie on another soft hackle pattern size 18 brown color. I started working the fly but was having trouble getting the fly to touch the water in a delicate mode, so I changed tippets to a 7X which gave me a much better presentation. Not to panic, but a glance at my watch showed me I only had roughly 20 minutes left before the generators would start gushing walls of water down the gouge. With the generation time schedule on my mind, I begin working the little brown hackle above a couple of trout that was still in subsurface mode. I figured if I was lucky enough to land my elusive trout today I had at least 250 yards of space between me and the huge wall of water that might take me under. As time ticked away I kept trying to land my one trout that would keep the skunk off my back for the first time on the Sipsey. With ten minutes left I saw another trout come up and barely break the surface. I had to move a little downstream to make a cast that would give me a decent drift that hopefully would get its attention. I made a long cast that sent the fly across the tailrace waters. As the fly drifted over the area where the trout had broken the surface total silence from the trout below. A few more cast left I assumed before the horn sounded; surely one more cast would get me my lone trout for the trip. It was not to be, the horn sounded and sent me moving out of the water and to safety up the bank.
Today was my first skunk day on the Sipsey, and I’m sure a few of you guys have experienced the same type of trip. As I walked back to my truck I kept wondering what I could have done differently to land just one trout. So I thought I would put the question to you guys, what pattern would you have used on a day with subsurface feeding, clear blue skies, and a slight wind coming from all directions at times?