Midnight Grasshoppers?

August 7, 2010

Midnight Grasshoppers?

Confused by the title? You should be. But really it's about as confusing as why fish start eating grasshoppers like crazy before we really see grasshoppers on the water in large numbers. Everybody gets excited about hopper fishing, but really on many of the freestone rivers, it isn't until mid to late August or even early September before we see the big fat grasshoppers in any significant numbers around the water. Yet the fish come up and engulf the damn hopper patterns sometimes as early as the 3rd week of July... It used to leave me scratching my head and wondering, \"What the hell?\" Then I started using some trout brain thinking.

That's right, trying to think like a trout - that requires you breaking stuff down into really easy to understand terms, example follows: I'm eating big ugly tan and yellow rubberlegged things, some of them with big white wings... That's your trout insight, so you have to then think, what else is going on on the river that coincides with them beginning to eat grasshopper patterns, and there's the rub. Around the same time that the Hopper fishing begins to pick up, there is a nocturnal late summer goldenstone that hatches around all of our local freestone rivers. The Gallatin, Madison, Yellowstone, Big Hole and nearly all of their tributaries get these stones, the problem for your casual angler is that they don't hatch in big numbers in the middle of the day. They actually crawl up and onto the rocks on the banks and emerge from their shucks at times where you won't find many people on the river, night time. If you spend any early mornings on the river (I'm talking before 6am) you may have seen these things flying around and wondered what the heck they are - they're nocturnal stones, and they have very poorly developed wings, the males actually don't fly, the females do, but neither one flies well so they mate and lay their eggs on the top of the water, hence the big rubberlegged patterns skipped up along the banks working...

Mystery solved. Well at least as far as you can solve a Trout related question, until we can interview one of these damn things all we have is conjecture and our own opinions. Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm not, all I know is that it makes a lot more sense than thinking that they're taking a size 6 or 8 tan rubberlegged thing for a grasshopper during July when you haven't seen a hopper bigger than a size 16 on or around the water.

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