River Magic

by Mark August 07, 2013


Our last action on magicicada dry flies came in late June on a local river. It came after a long sibling biking trip when I was able to survey a large portion of the watershed. While my brother and sister were enjoying the scenery, I constantly had my neck turned towards the river and my ears perked towards the trees. I was able to pinpoint exact locations of cicada gatherings. A few days later, I got my chance to check out the water and its resident trout.

My brother accompanied me on the first day while my buddy Ryan came on the next. We worked an inside/outside game where one angler focused on the inside portion of the river with a single hand rod. The other focused on the more difficult to reach outside seams using a switch rod. The switch rod was a game changer, especially in the narrow confines of a gorge, with deep water, and limited back cast room. Over-lined with sharkskin fly line, the switch rod was absolutely deadly fishing a large cicada along the opposite banks, eddies, and seams. I felt under-gunned whenever I had a single hander in my hand. The largest fish all came on the opposite side of the river on the switch rod.


The highlight of our river fishing came on a beautiful riffle/pool flanked by large boulders. On the opposite bank was a large rock flanked by some serious flowing water. Behind the rock was a foam eddy. After helping to fix my brothers two handed switch casting and also how best to get a short dead drift in the zone, he launched a good cast across river. The fly plopped down at the base of the boulder and after a big mend ran along that seam and foam line. A large brown slowly rose and opened wide, taking in the cicada. Atop my perch, I saw the entire cast, mend, take, set, and fight as my brother landed his largest resident brown trout ever. I was as happy for him as he was for himself. Frankly, the pictures did not do this fish justice, she was a pig.


Overall, the fishing was slow but the moments more than made up for it. After an extended lull in the action a missed hook set or lost fish (there were a lot) could be heartbreaking, if only for a second or two. We had the river and its fish to ourselves and the scenery was phenomenal. Besides, there are few moments in fly fishing that can beat a slow rise to a size 4 dry fly. I am glad that I was able to witness and take advantage of the 17-year cycle of brood II. It’s easy to dismiss their presence and continue your normal fishing routine but a 17-year hatch is a moment that doesn’t come around often. I am already thinking about the possibilities for myself in 2030 at the ripe age of 43. That is a long way away.









One Happy Dude






I thought I had a large smallmouth…









A potential wild brook trout caught near a cold tributary…he missed.




Even the chubs got in on the action…the smallmouth did not.



Naturals collected in eddies and foam lines…



















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