No hatch is completely predictable, but the brachycentrus, or Mother’s Day caddis hatch, in the Bear Trap Canyon of Montana’s lower Madison River, at the time, was known to be fairly reliable.
But that year was disappointing. The water temperatures were right and the water was clear, but that one year, most fly fisherman actually spent Mother’s Day with mom.
When the bugs did eventually come off, it was certainly no blizzard, and the trout were particularly skeptical. Chalk it up to the mystery of fly fishing, I guess.
Anyhow, it was pleasant to be outside. Air temps were in range, grass was green, potatoes were drifting along the riverbed, and the sun was warm. But something seemed off.
“Why are there so many cattails on the riverbed?” I wondered to myself. “They must have raised flows enough to knock ‘em down er something.”
When I nearly turned my ankle on one, I decided to have a closer look.
Upon inspection, I realized what wasn't right – it was the potatoes. They shouldn't be there, and there were bushels of them.
Spread throughout every depression and bucket, were many Thanksgivings' worth.
You could actually see them slowly bouncing end over end along the bottom, reminiscent of the Stay Puft marshmallow man.
I recalled that the road that mimics the river had been closed a week prior, so I assume a potato truck had rolled into the river (not an impossible occurrence due to the nearby Dutch farmers and winding canyon roads).
I don’t really know why it tickled me so. There was nothing particularly funny about it.
It’s probably because there were potatoes in the river.
I returned a couple weeks later hoping to find rising trout. I found a few, but nothing terribly exciting. The potatoes were still there.
Bored with fishing, I picked up another tuber. This time, the ends of them were without skin, and they had clearly been chewed on. You'll have to take my word - I promise.
Suddenly, the lack of a Mother’s Day hatch made sense. Both predator and prey had lined up for the buffet, and, amidst this paradise, neglected to live their normal day-to-day.
The fishing sucked, but hey, I like potatoes too.