Familiar Faces: Fly Fishing's "Social Network"

Updated: Oct 17, 2020

What's the initial thought that comes to a fly fisher‘s mind when he or she sees another angler on the same water? For myself and my fishing partner, it’s typically a subtle "son of a b****". What’s even more thrilling is to hear what this fellow angler is about to say. But I mean c'mon, who doesn't enjoy a little "unwanted" knowledge getting dropped on ’em from time to time. To add to that, I'm sure every fly fisher has heard their share of big tales, and most likely told one of them as well. However, amongst the lies and tall tales an angler will hear, there will eventually be a piece of useful knowledge to take away. Finding a piece of useful knowledge is exactly what occurred one day in the Driftless region for my two brothers and I.

After fishing the Driftless from sun up until noon in mid summer, one will most likely work up an appetite for two things. Beer and food. Needless to say, my brothers and I wouldn't have turned a cold beverage away if someone had offered. We decided to call it a morning and head back to camp.

As we were fishing our way back to the truck, we were met by a father and son. Of course, our subtle thought was, "Son of a b****". While passing by the father, he did the typical, "How's it going" gesture and we politely offered one in return. Half way through our walk back, we noticed they had reeled in and were following us out. Now we’re really in for some tales we thought.

After the typical introductions, the father asked, "Are you guys from the same area?” After laughing that off my brother exclaimed, "Actually we're from the same womb!” That comment sparked even more laughter and comments were made about the age differences, but that's beside the point. The point is the information we learned in the next five minutes.

After getting to the parking lot, the man opened up about the local hatches. He explained that he’d fished this specific piece of water for many years and knew a common occurrence that happened later in the summer. The Trico hatch. Having been a part of a Trico hatch in the past, our interests were sparked.

After minutes of conversation including strategy and location, we thanked the man and wished him well. The rest of the trip was filled with spectacular dry fly action, good company, and of course our share of Golden Light. Although discussion of the Trico hatch was never brought to the table again, it was lingering in the back of our minds.

Fast forward two months later to early August of the same year, one can imagine where we were. Somehow we convinced our ladies that we needed to drive 8 hours to take the advice of a stranger and see what the hatch was about. Needless to say, we were in the same exact location that we learned about this mythical Trico hatch. To make it easy on the reader, this trip was what I would classify as the best dry fly action we had experienced. The hatch was unreal to the point that we were dodging spent Tricos floating by our legs. Just like every trip, it goes by too fast and before an angler realizes it, they are packing up and heading home.

A long held tradition of ours is to stop at the closest Casey’s general store and eat their “famous” pizza on the way back from a trip. The closest Casey’s to us was a little over 20 minutes away. As I was carrying my pizza to the counter, I heard my brother talking to someone in the back of the store.

Now, my brother probably knows too many people, but I thought, “Who the hell does he know 8 hours away from home?” As I walked around the aisle to see who this person was, I immediately remembered this man’s face. The man was the same father we met on the stream earlier in June who had informed us of the Trico hatch. As a matter of fact, he was up in the region for the same purpose!

We explained our success and thanked him for the advice he had given. After some time, we went on our way and couldn’t believe the coincidence that had just occurred.

In conclusion, I guess not all words are tall tales that one hears from an angler. In fact, anytime an experienced angler has knowledge to offer, a fisherman should always turn an ear to hear what they have to say, even if it is just a bunch of hogwash.

The ride home from the trip was quiet as usual as we reflected on how great the fishing was. After hours on the road, my brother finally broke the silence and said, “You know, maybe that guy really wasn’t full of shit”.

Ty Figg

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