February 06, 2014

John "Hornberg" Armstrong

The best fly angler I have ever fished with is hands down bar none John Armstrong.  He use to live in Madison and now lives in a suburb of Atlanta.  WE use to fish 3 times a week when he worked locally.  We fish once or twice a year these days.

I will set the stage for the story.  John has been out fishing with his buddy Todd during the day.  John is all pumped up about an incident that happened when Todd was battling a medium sized trout.  John told me that an extra large sized brown attacked Todd's fish while he was battling it.  He wanted to go right out after it with me.  I told John to give the trout a rest for a couple days and I would be his net man.

The next night John is on the phone and he wants to go out at about 7am the next morning.  John is so fired up he has already tied a fly on to try to catch the aggressive monster in the hole.

John had a size 6 hornberg on.  He told he he had a small split shot back about 12 inches and he had a big glob of biostrike about 5 feet back.  He guessed the hole to be 4 feet deep.  His plan was to dredge the crease he saw the trout retreat into after it attacked the other trout. He had it on his lucky Fenwick rod with a 9 foot new 2X leader.

We met up at 6:30am in Gays Mills and we were off after that aggressive male brown.

He had discovered the fish so it was his to catch.  I stayed back 80 yards so my movements would not spook John's trout.

The second cast in to the hole John had a large trout on and was shouting for me to come net it.  This fish hunkered down on the bottom for quite a while before coming to the surface and me netting it.

John was happy with his brown and fished some more and I went home and he was off to Madison.

That night the phone rang.  John was on the line and he said the fish he caught that day was not the trout he had seen chasing and biting that other brown.  He was certain it was a different fish he caught.  I dismissed the notion in my mind of two extra large trout in the same small hole.  John was certain and wanted to go out again.  He didn't have time until the weekend.

 He called me on Friday night and said he was coming in the morning with a father and son in tow.  He had promised the father to help teach his son how to fly fish.  We all bailed out of the vehicles at the same parking area from earlier that week.  John wanted to see if he was right and there was another big different trout in the hole.  John had already tied on the hornberg and he was biting at the bit to go try.

I let John and the father go ahead of me and the son.  The son picked up on the fly rod quickly and caught a really nice brookie right away.  Then I heard the familiar cry by John of "LEN!!"

We both ran to John and he was still battling another different bigger trout in that same hole.  The father and son watched as John battled the trout.  The father waded in and tried to net John's trout but his net was not big enough.  I tossed him my big net.

If you don't have a couple hornbergs in your fly box, you should have.

This stretch had the rights sold to the WDNR 2 years later and the wonderful hole was destroyed with the Habitat Improvement nonsense.

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