Now that the season is officially open, all options are on the table. I thought about going to the West Branch today, one of my favorite streams, but the memory of that last stonefly hatch at Mianus drew me back there again. I didn't see any rises or signs of a hatch when I got there, so I spent the morning nymphing. The water was much lower this time so I hiked further upstream and found some deeper holes in the pocket water. I caught this nice little brown in a deep run along a boulder- exactly where he was supposed to be. He hit a soft hackle pheasant tail on the swing as it shot out through the deep cut along the large rock. Not a monster fish by any means, but it was satisfying to find a trout where I expected one to be and to catch it on a fly I tied myself.
Around 1:00, just like clockwork, the stoneflies started dropping. The trout came out of the woodwork and reacted just quickly as they had last week. I had spent some time tying this week and I couldn't wait to try out the dries I had tied to mimic the stonefly I brought home. But just like last time, the pack of trout stacked up in front of me passed on every drift. I tried a flying ant pattern again, but this time even that pattern got the cold shoulder too. I sat back and watched the trout feast for a while and looked through my box of dries for the millionth time. Nothing really seemed like it was any closer to the insects that were now crawling all over me. Feeling a little desperate, I settled on a stimulator I had tied with a black body- the general size and shape seemed like it might do the job. Sure enough, the next drift got some attention. Why didn't I try this last time? I hooked a few more small browns and a pretty little brook trout, which I didn't get to take a photo of unfortunately. I also noticed a massive brown that would dart out of a brush pile every once in a while, steal away a stonefly, and slip back into the branches in one motion. I gave it a shot, but wasn't able to coax it out to take my fly. I doubt my 6x tippet would have kept him from retreating back to his lair anyway. I sure would have liked to have found that out the hard way though. I still managed to leave feeling like I had done what I set out to do today. Even though none of my own stonefly dries did the job and a seemingly random fly ended up saving the day.
I chatted briefly with a guy in the parking lot about the fishing on my way out. He had just arrived and asked if they were still hatching, and how I had done. I told him about the browns I had just caught. "What did you get them on? Black stimulator?"