Mousing Not Just for AK


The boys at Anglers West have been doing a little mousing at night in the Yellowstone area.  Most people associate fishing mice for trout as something unique to Alaska or Kamchatka.  Not so!  Western river lore has it that the biggest of the big browns hunt at night.  Burke Holmes (pictured) appears to give this theory some validity.  Mousing is a good way to fish at night because the preferred technique is to wake your mouse across the current on a tight line.  This gives the angler the advantage of feeling the take and hooking up without the need to have visual contact with the fly.  The other advantage is you can tell your buddies that every fish you hooked was HUGE.  Every blind tight line take on mouse will stop your heart.

Jeff Hickman aka The Predator and originator of mousing, not just the originator of Mr. Hankey the Christmas Mouse offers these sage words of advice:

In rivers and creeks, Mr. Hankey is best presented downstream and across the current.  He is best fished with a tight line making him skate across the current, though he can also be extremely effective on a dead-drift. Either method you use, slight twitches with the rod tip give him life and help the productivity.  In lakes or slack water, you cannot strip him too fast.  Making high pitched mouse sounds “meep meep meep” and talking as though you are the mouse frantically swimming in the water, also helps.

How many times have I heard the words “those don’t work on this river.”  Of course they don’t because you have never fished them on this river.  If you want to find out if your local prey of choice will take a mouse you have got to fish one.

Christmas comes early in Yellowstone country. photo Jeff Pavlovich

12 Responses to “Mousing Not Just for AK”

  1. William Blair says:

    So i take some offense as i am sure others will when you call Jeff Hickman the originator of mousing. I know for a fact that there were guys doing it in Alaska back in the 80’s. Now i take a look at Jeff and he was probably a little to young. It is cool that he carries the mousing flag but not cool to give credit where it is not do.

  2. Zach says:

    Will I think you are misreading that statement as fact, instead of us poking some fun at the Predator.

  3. William Blair says:

    I like to poke fun at people but i think all to often anything put into print is made out as fact.

  4. Horatio says:

    Those other guys may have been fishing large flies but it wasn’t mousing. Jeff Hickman clearly invented modern mousing by adding “Making high pitched mouse sounds “meep meep meep” and talking as though you are the mouse frantically swimming in the water”. Without the “meep meep meep” sounds you are simply fly fishing not mousing. Like most things in life a few others contributed the odd thought here or there in the past, but Jeff Hickman invented mousing.

  5. zach says:

    It’s inconsequential to me if someone takes for fact that “the Predator invented mousing.” Who invented it is not important to me nor do I believe it should be to anyone else. All that leads to a debate about who was first. A debate that can never be concluded with documented fact.

    To often fly anglers worry about who was first to fish this piece of water or first to fish that technique or that they are an accomplished angler. The only thing that matters is that anglers should be going fishing and enjoying themselves when they do so no matter what technique they decide to employ. If we can help them have more success and add to their enjoyment all the better.

  6. KP says:

    The 80’s? Hickman killed the radio star. Ol’ boy put the “TAIL” on the skated fly making it a Mouse, Hickman is always bringing tail to the table.

  7. Jeff Hickman says:

    I believe Zach is referring to the Merriam-Webster definition of the word mousing: intransitive verb 1 : to hunt for mice

    I have heard no disputes of my claim to fame of being the original sporting mouse hunter. That’s right no cheese or mousetraps for me. After all, I hold the patent on the miniature compound bow as well as toothpick arrows.

    I also hold the Alaska West record for confirmed blow gun kills.

  8. Jimbo says:

    I invented “ROCK TOSSIN” back in 82′, anybody wanna challenge that?

  9. Greg Jones says:

    Hi William,

    Guys, this man is an expert in fishng with Mice. Go to YouTube and type in his name. Are you going back to Kamchatka anytime soon? i am going tomorrow with Ouzel. Hopefully it will be fun but i would have loved to have gone with you.


  10. William Blair says:

    I hope you have a great time. I appreciate the kudos- mousing is certainly my favorite way to fish for trout. I agree it matters not who invented who went first who is blah blah blah.
    Kamchatka is off the table as far as having a viable program with the use of jet sleds out of our Ozernaya Camp. Unless there is enough people who go to justify the $30k set up price just to transport equipment in and out the most remote rivers up north are really tough to operate on. I think that Paul’s program is good but wonder how long the easier to access rivers will hold up to increasing pressure from European guests, who may kill rainbows. The issue with the harder to reach rivers is the difficulty in travel around the globe and then a huge bus ride to Esso or Koserevsk, then a helicopter ride. I have done it many times and i can handle the bus after a flight from anchorage but all the way around planet earth-no way. I don’t care how good the fishing is or can be. See the risks that were present, weather delays, high water etc are still present and make it just to tough except for the hardest core guys-almost all of which are guides and can’t float the $ for the type of helicopter time necessary to reach the far out rivers. I think right now Ouzels program is the best on the peninsula.
    Oh the memories though of never tying anything on my rod for the entire 2000 season, watching guests have hundreds of takes in a day on a mouse, seeing people stare in disbelief when a 25 inch bow smashes the fly inches from their feet. I wish that everyone could have seen Kamchatka in the beginning and maybe some day it will come back on line but the fear in my heart is it will be to late for many of the rivers as the salmon caviar trade will have destroyed all but a few.

  11. KP says:

    Hooray! 250 reasons not to go to Russia.

  12. Jimbo says:

    I did look him up on utube, guy sure can work a Gerbil.

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