Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Lair of the Purple Wooley Bugger Eater

A few weeks ago Jonny and I skipped the rush to purchase holiday gifts and instead fished the Farmington. It was a frigid day that would have been fishless if I had not taken to swinging Wooley Buggers. I managed to land one snake-thin brown trout on a green bugger.

While I was happy for the one, I surely missed the first fish that struck my swung fly earlier in the day. After an hour of fishless nymphing, I swapped the nymph rig out for a bugger. I tied on the only purple bugger I had with me and worked the same run again. The riffle arced above the pool towards midstream and that provided me with shallow water from which to work the near edges of the drop-off.

There is a group of chair-sized boulders about halfway down the run and lodged among them is a section of tree trunk that looks like it's been there for years. This grouping of objects carves a deep slot that appears fishy as hell though whatever lurked below had snubbed the stonefly-zebra midge combo.

I worked that location hard and was rewarded with a solid tug on the line. Sadly, as I set the hook and felt the shake of the trout the line parted. While I'm not the most experienced trout hunter on the river, I've had enough tugs to know that this fish parted the line with ease; it was an act of experience from a heavy fish. Of course, I made that a whole lot easier by using 5x tippet instead of something more stout.

With the memory of that tug quivering through my forearm, I tied up a few more purple buggers the other day and planned my return. Yesterday, I revisited those boulders. Long story short, a trout was there. The trout took the bugger (this time tied on 3x) with a jarring take and fought sluggishly in the thirty-eight degree water until it came to my net.

The opening on my net is seventeen and one-half inches long and the fish bested that by an inch or two. Unlike the fish that graced my net a few weeks ago, this one had thick shoulders and a solid belly, clearly the master of this piece of stream.

I believe that the majority of what we do on the water is a skill that is learned and practiced and can be counted on to yield a result more often than not, but that's not the whole equation. We also need a willing fish-shaped partner and likely a dose of good fortune to be able to bring it all together to a measured result. I like to think that yesterday's result was the logical conclusion of my organizing the puzzle pieces, but maybe I was just lucky. I'll take as much luck as I can get.

Purple Wooley Bugger Eater


  1. Beauty Z!
    There are some big ones in there, I know from experience.

    1. Thanks, AT. Yeah, the river has more than its fair share of lunkers.

  2. Great fish and nice story to go along with it. Some of the most memorable fish are those that get away the first time and then you put in the time and effort to go back and catch them.

    1. It is pretty magical when you can put it all together.