In late spring, Dry Falls has a pretty dependable evening rise to emerging chironomids. The surface activity can be insane. Literally dozens or rainbows can be bulging, finning, and sipping at the surface in one small notch of the shoreline nonstop for the several hours between the sun slipping behind the rim of the coulee and dark. While it is dependable and spectacular, it will more often than not kick you ass. The water is still, the fish are smart and picky, and the emergence is often more complex than it seems, several different midges of varying size and color hatching at once. It has left more than a few good anglers well spanked. Many old hands at Dry Falls have gained the fortitude -- through hard knocks -- to simply ignore the risers and concentrate their efforts subsurface. A few years ago, my pals and I cracked it with a little fly of mine I now call “my little darling,” MLD for short. I can only take partial credit, as it is very largely based on Paul Lasha’a raccoon, but it has enough “improvements” that I feel justified in naming it. It’s my little darling because it works so incredibly well, particularly in tough situations, when everybody else is living through a figurative Porky Pig cartoon, the trout practically spitting water in their faces. Memorial Day weekend, several years ago, I was fishing the lake by myself, from my driftboat. It’s a little more boat than you need for this sort of thing, but it’s a comfortable platform, rows fast, and anchored from both ends at the mouth of a small cove, it runs pretty effective interference. As the sun approached the coulee rim, I set up and waited. The fish started rising, and soon enough it became clear that I had shown up on an epic evening, even by the standard of this hatch. The cove and the entire shoreline were continually pocked with maybe a hundred or more simultaneous rings. My little darling started working her magic. I was pretty much just along for the ride. With so many risers, there was no way to lead individual fish; I’d just cast and let the fly sit until a speckled snout came over it. I watched one fish tip up and examine the fly for 20, 30 seconds before sipping it in, bulging and breaking the water into froth when I tightened. I know it’s a little nasty, but what made the evening so memorable, aside from the fact that 30-fish evenings are rare enough for me, were the other chaps in their float tubes, silent and grim, periodically staring into their fly boxes. After about an hour, my rod bent to the 15th or so fish, they were craning their necks in my direction. Despite the dozens of rising trout in front of them, they inexorably started drifting toward me. We all say we’re searching for solitude, but there is a lot to be said for audience. I’ve already gone pretty long, but to inoculate myself from charges of braggadocio, I also want to include the following short vignette. Please bear with me. Charlie cold-called me to introduce himself and ask me to take him fishing. He was a friend of my brother, who lives in San Diego. What the hell, I offered to take him steelheading on the Sky. He had an 8-weight and a sinktip, but he’d never been. I set us up on a half-day float that would put us first-up on one of my favorite pools. I ran him through the drill and set him up in the tail-out, while I took the sweet spot at the head of the riffle. Well, what else could happen? He hooked and landed a wild buck on his third or fourth cast. His casting, while apparently adequate, was far from expert, if I must say so myself, and in the time it had taken him to make those casts, I felt I had fairly covered the best part of the riffle. So I sent him up to that “finished” water, while I took the rest of the tail-out, where the fish seemed to be. I’m sure you see where this is going. It took him maybe a few minutes to hook another steelhead in the water I had just fished. Despite his lack of manners, Charlie turned out to be a pretty nice guy, and still tells everybody what a good steelhead guide I am.