My friend Sandy Hays—whom I’ve known since high school and who has photographed many of my international fishing adventures—has a great love of mouse patterns, and he brings them along, no matter where we go. He even tried a mouse on the Gaula River in Norway, where the fish rarely come to the surface to eat and never this early in the season. Our guide, Alessio, thought it was hilarious when Sandy started chucking the mouse, but it’s a tradition. (Two years ago, in Slovenia, our guide, Matt Calderaro, also sniggered when Sandy tied on the mouse, but he stopped laughing when a big rainbow exploded on the fly on the first pass.)
Sandy had a tough week in Norway, making thousands of casts but never hooking up. He struggled some with the two-handed technique, especially when a heavy sinking tip was added to the mix. But right after we landed back in the States, he headed north for his annual family trip to Lakewood Camps on the Rapid River in western Maine. And on his first day there, using the mouse, he caught the largest brook trout of his life just below Middle Dam. I’m pretty sure that he felt redeemed after the difficult time in Norway, and I’m sure that, no matter where we go next, his tin of mouse patterns will be in his luggage.