Photos: Night-Stalking with Mouse Flies for Big Browns

Written by: Drew Nisbet, Fishing Manager of Orvis Buffalo

After midnight, some of the biggest browns in the river go on the prowl.
Photos by Drew Nisbet

[Editor’s note: In case you wonder if Orvis Fishing Managers are really fly fishermen, check this out. Drew Nisbet is so into night-fishing for big browns that he’s been leaving work, making the four-hour drive across New York, fishing all night, and then bombing back to Buffalo.]

The Morrish Mouse (top right in box) offers a big profile but is easy to cast.

On Tuesday evening, I loaded up my car and made the drive from my job in Buffalo to spend the night casting a Morrish Mouse for big browns on the West Branch of the Delaware. Under cover of total darkness, I have the river to myself, big fish feed with reckless abandon, and the world sleeps as I make my night moves. From midnight to sunrise, I hooked six and landed five, which makes it easy to stay awake. A humid summer sunrise in the Catskills can be as gorgeous as it gets, but it signifies the end of the mousing hour. Time to load up on coffee for the drive home.

Drew Nisbet is the Fishing Manager of Orvis Buffalo. Check out his Instagram account for more great photos.

Drew uses an 11-foot 6-weight Clearwater Switch rod with a Hydros HD Switch fly line.

That is one healthy brown–probably because of its meaty diet.

It’s a beautiful sunrise, but it also means an end to the fishing . . . .

11 thoughts on “Photos: Night-Stalking with Mouse Flies for Big Browns”

    1. It is a fairly large river and to reach the far bank where the trout are typically sitting requires about a 60ft cast with a wind resistant fly. A fast action single hand 6wt can do it but your arm is just about worn out at the end of the night. Using the switch rod and a snap T cast makes its fluid and effortless to hit the far bank all night long.

  1. I’ve known Drew for several years and he is a fly fishing addict and always a wealth of information . .. just stop by shop and ask away …

  2. I caught a 25″ brown last year mousing in from a Hex trip. Thought I was hung up on a tree, but then the tree started moving up river! I got him on a 6wt fiberglass rig, but prefer to use my 8wt Helios, keeps your arm fresh/er for more nights! I started tying my own patterns last month, and my 2nd version hooked up 3 nice browns in consecutive nights. Sitting here designing something with more length, couple articulation sections, & a intruder hook to end it. Heading out next week for 2 weeks of night fishing, including The Midnight Derby, August 12, 2 man fishing contest in Grayling. CAN’T wait!

  3. Thanks for the reply, something I will have to try. I tied some up on a #6 mustad 38941 with a 21 mm shank, equal to a 1/0 3366 and it came out great. Living in South Jersey fly tying material is hard to come by. Mail order or forget it and so many suppliers don’t carry what you need. Salt water country here and it’s pretty much stainless hooks or nothing. I gave up some hook gape but it should work OK. Thanks again Drew.

  4. I have been doing the Delaware spey-mousing thing for a few years as well. It’s really be best way to target only the biggest, baddest fish in the river! I use primarily my 12’6-6wt with either a scandi head or a compact Skagit head with a floating tip…these line configs seem to give me an easier long-range cast against the bank with the option to strip the fly for more action. I think the key; however, is a slow presentation so the fish don’t miscalculate their strike. Otherwise, treat it like steelhead and let the fish hook themselves!

  5. I’m inspired! Definitely giving this a try…

    Any tips on how to gauge how much line to shoot when you can’t really you see the far bank? Thanks!

    1. I scout all my mousing locations in the day for wading safety and use the silhouette of large tree as markers for when I return at night. You can make your casts in daylight and place a piece of blue painters tape on the running at your desired casting distance and will feel the tape slide through your fingers as you shoot line.

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