Labor Day weekend at the end of summer can be one of the toughest times of the year to take trout on the Little Elkhart River. This is due to the high daytime temperatures, low water levels and gin clarity. It is also your best chance to take trout on dry flies in the early mornings, evenings or overcast drizzle days. That was the case on Friday afternoon August 30. The morning started with a rain shower and it was a humid mildly hot afternoon. It was one of those days that you work up a good sweat just walking to the river. I started out fishing my trusty olive nymphs. The spots that always hold trout were not producing like they should. My first choice was to downsize the nymph and change the color but after an hour of that I realized that was not working either. The river seemed dead but I knew it was not, the trout wanted something else.
I increased my leader to about 12 feet dropping the tippet down to 7X and tied on a size 12 parachute Madam X. I like this fly because it can imitate a caddis or a small hopper. I made long casts upstream working each bank, riffle and trough. My first fish was a fat hefty creek chub that hit the drifting fly like it was the only meal it was going to get that month. The next fish hit the fly exactly in the same manner and thinking it was another chub I did not play the fish and to my surprise it was a little brown. Ah hah I’m not going to get skunked!
As I moved upstream I started to take trout after trout on the dry. The Little E is not generally a dry fly stream. I have taken trout on dries but I usually only fish them when I happen to see a trout actively feeding on top. I will cut everything off, tie on a dry and take the trout then return to whatever it was I was using prior. This day was different the trout wanted the fly on the surface.
I had taken 9 browns and one skinny rainbow and decided to head home as the sun was setting and the mosquitoes were emerging. I walked back through the meadow toward my truck when I heard a trout feeding on hatching bugs. I walked over to the bank and watched hoping the trout would feed again and show me where he was hiding. It was probably 5 minutes before the trout fed again under a branch on the far bank. It looked like a nice trout. I moved downstream of the fish and started my advancement sneak on the fish. I got within casting distance just as the trout fed again. The trout ate my fly on the first drift and pushed the limits of my 7X tippet as it jumped twice. The 15 inch brown was soon in my net, smiled for the camera and was returned to the river free to swim back to its holding spot. I reeled up and returned home completely satisfied. It was one of those afternoons that do not happen too often. Maybe the Little E is a dry fly river after all I just never tried it.