Written by: Len Harris
Photos by: Len Harris
I met Jim Hawley at a Flyfishing show in Madison, Wisconsin. The local Trout Unlimited chapter puts on
an Ice Breaker Show in early February to help vanquish the long winter and get every one
fired up for the season that opens the first Saturday in march.
There were very many excellent speakers and I ran in to Jim Hawley there. He was hanging on to
every word the speakers were saying and asked some questions of the speakers at the end of
From his questions I could tell he was new to flyfishing for trout . We talked and he set up going out with me the second weekend of March.
I asked him what he wanted to target during our outing. He told me he had caught rainbows before on spinning gear and lake trout also.
He told me "Anything" on a fly rod would satisfy him.
En route to our outing in March he was asking all sorts of questions. He was talking dry flies and smaller flies.
I told him I was a Meat & Potato fly angler. I believed in Big & Ugly flies. My "go to" fly is the bead headed bugger
in black with green crystal flash. I introduced Jim to the type of strike indicators I liked also. It is nothing
more than a Lindy Rig Float tooth picked to the line. I am a firm believer in strike indicators or "bobbers" as the
less informed call them. I read a study once that anglers not using a strike indicator miss 40 percent of the hits.
I picked a stream for Jim's first fly outing that would satisfy his craving to catch a brown and a brook. Jim was even
lucky enough to catch a tiger trout also. Jim's total for a half day was 27 trout. A very good start. So Jim scored a
Trifecta the first time out in Wisconsin for trout. The brown and brook were no small ones either. Jim named his brown
from March after his wife (Suzie).
Jim was sooo badly bitten by the by the fly fishing bug he called me early May and we went out again. The day
was not the same as the first. The sky was robin's egg blue and sunny. There was also a wind to contend with.
From 6am to 9am Jim brought 4 trout to hand. I kind of spoiled him with the first outing. He was questioning why the
difference in days. The first day there was a warm front in early March. The stream warmed up 15 degrees from the day before
and this turned on the trout. The May outing outside temperature went down to 33 degrees over night. Quite a
temperature swing from the prior day.
The sun was warming the water quickly and the water went from 38 to 44 degrees. I told Jim the trout would turn on shortly.
I had him cast directly along the bank to try to talk a trout out from under it. I told Jim because of the sun they would be under the banks
trying to get out of the direct sun light.
Jim made three strips of the woolly bugger when the indicator took off upstream like a shot. Jim set the hook and the
Leviathan took an immediate left turn and jumped skyward doing a complete body shake and hit the water with a HUGE
splash. I thought the battle was all over but the crying. Usually big trout don't sky like that. They hunker down and do an
upstream power run. Jim being a relative beginner I thought he was done.
After two more power runs and some tense moments. The trout was ready to be netted. Jim was fiddling with his tiny net
on his back. The entire net measured 20 inches with handle. I stepped right in front of Jim and netted the MONSTER.
Jim was very thankful. He would not have been able to get the head in his net...let alone the rest of his body. He thanked me and
we took a couple of photos and sent (Sir James) back to the deeps. I have a tradition of naming trout. Jim took over that
tradition today. Jim also asked me on the way home where I got my net. I gave him the address and smiled and I
said: " You will NEVER hear anyone say, I wish I had a smaller net."