New things keep us going - flies, rods, hooks, streams, people, just about anything. But every once and a while I like to be reminded that even some of the things that seem new in the sport, aren't entirely so, even in a flowering sport like flyfishing, where available technology is rapidly increasing the scope of fish and water that we are able to target.
Mousing for trout is one of those areas within flyfishing that often seems like it's talked about like it's new and that not many people do it. Field and Stream posted a video recently about mousing the Delaware, where they said, "You know, everybody goes up there to dry fly fish, few guys go up just to streamer fish, and nobody goes up there just to mouse."
Then I read a book I got from a relative, titled Along the Trout Stream and published in Birchwood, WI in 1979. One chapter stood out to me, its title was "Night Fishing Browns." Naturally, I was intrigued, this old timer is talking about fishing at night. I like fishing at night, so of course I wondered what he had to say. The author George Mattis describes his night-time forays into the trout streams of, I presume, Northern Wisconsin. I'll share a few of his words here:
"In time one gets the feel of this sort of blind fishing, and he accepts the limitations of night casting with grace. He becomes part of the night outdoors as he flushes nocturnal birds from their stream-side perches, bumps into large, flying insects, or disrupts a coon or muskrat in its nightly roaming...
"In fly fishing for browns in the dark of night, one will want to confine his efforts to rather limited waters with which he is familiar... this is no time for searching out new trout lairs...
"Two men fishing a stream side by side is not the ideal arrangement normally, but it can be tolerated and even appreciated when night fishing big holes on a wild grown stream where one might step into deep water or need help in landing a hefty fish. There are some few anglers I know who still prowl the brown's lairs alone at night, but most, if they consider nocturnal fishing at all, prefer company...[my emphasis]
"...this casting into the blackness is hardly different from daytime casting. One learns to "feel" the travel route of his fly and he has pretty much control over it even though he does not see it...
"I find small, white poppers just as effective as the miller moth fly under these conditions... Then I have made crude imitations of a small mouse by tying deer hair on the shank of a long-shanked hook. The top or brown part of the hair is cut off so that the lure is white or at least nearly so. The tubular hair is buoyant and when the contrivance is retrieved over the water, there could be something here to suggest a swimming mouse."
"I have spent a few adventurous nights with an avid brown trout man who considers late night fly fishing from a canoe a normal angling adventure... He ties and uses his own oversize flies, and when the night is right he battles several three to five pound lunkers to a standstill. This angler is still at the youthful age where curiosity and experiment are a part of his fishing.
"Too many of us stream anglers accept the rules and methods as handed down to us from the long past. We become staid to the point where we all fish alike. It is quite refreshing to fish with some local loner who stumbles upon some unusual technique and knowledge that produces fish for him."