By the time we realize the caddis hatch isn’t going to happen, we don’t care. One morning, we boat two hours to another river with a steeper gradient and faster water. After traveling a mile upriver, we get out to wade. Within minutes, each of us has landed a brook trout from four to seven pounds. For the rest of the afternoon, Jim and I leapfrog up one bank, while Mike and John work the other.
Later, as we’re about to head back, I tie on a mouse pattern. I’ve always dreamed of catching a big brookie on a mouse. What better time to try? I cast the mouse where Jim and I have fared well with streamers. We watch the mouse as I twitch it across the current. “I’d love to see it,” Jim says. Our eyes are glued to the deer-hair pattern. Nothing.
Jim goes back to fishing with a streamer, and I hop up to the next hole. I strip the mouse across a seam, and as it goes under and “drowns”—WHAM! A fat, male brook trout of five pounds mauls it. Jim looks up.
“On the mouse?” he shouts.
“On the mouse!”
We work our way downstream. The sky is growing dark and the day windy. It’s a haul back to the lodge on a nice day, and in foul weather it’s a slog across the lake. The next hole down, I land another five-pound brookie. My entire walk back to the boat, trout continue to hammer the mouse. In the last spot, which earlier gave up some beautiful fish, Jim works his streamer. No takers.
I hand him my rod with the mouse.
On the first cast, a big fish rises from the depths, and Jim misses it. But on the next cast he hooks a four-pounder. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a huge male brook trout of maybe seven pounds appears and starts ramming the hooked trout, trying to knock the mouse out of its mouth. Slam. Slam. Jim falls into a crouch. It’s too much. “I’ve seen it all now. I have seen it all,” he says, and shakes his head. Just before we get in the boat, I cast the mouse downstream and catch my best trout of the trip, a fat hooked-jaw male of maybe six-and-a-half-pounds.
For the rest of the trip, we fish mouse patterns on and off. It’s hard to resist. At times—such as the morning Mike had a trout on every time I looked up, or the afternoon he hooked the trip’s biggest brookie, perhaps eight pounds—the mouse seems irresisistible and proves to be the most fun “dry fly” of the trip. But it’s no magic bullet. Sometimes the mouse simply has no takers, and one morning, Jim catches a gorgeous five-and-a-half-pound male brookie on a size 14 caddis fly, after we had fished the run with a mouse.
Standing on the dock the morning, before we board the DeHavilland Otter to head back to civilization, we talk about the fish we landed and those we missed. We talk about the caddis hatch that never was. Steve shows us a photo of the river during the caddisfly hatch, when the river is carpeted. Wilson says, “Guess you’ll have to come back then, eh?”
There is silence, save the lapping of water along the dock, as we ponder the possibility of all those big brook trout up and down the river, rising to thousands of caddis. We shake our heads slowly at the dream of it.
What else can we do?
To book a trip to Riverkeep Lodge call 207-799-0403
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