When spring arrives in Maine, it usually means two things for fly fishermen; smelt and salmon. Locals and old timers are always “waiting for the smelt to come in”, creating new smelt patterns on the vise and changing up smelt patterns while on the water. But, this spring new discoveries and a break from tradition were in order. The wild salmon of Maine are always considered to be searching for smelt and smelt only. But during some parts of this early season we came to realize that smelt and smelt fly patterns were not necessarily the only thing on the menu. This spring the smelt did their annual rituals and invaded the rivers, lake shorelines and streams. In certain spots, the smelt were so thick and stacked on top of each other that the water appeared to be black. Sometimes there were Salmon mixed in with them and sometimes not. Sometimes, we could see the Salmon making blistering runs into these pods of helpless smelt. We would watch and actually see the Salmon, with their mouths wide open, literally inhaling as many smelt as they could get. A new discovery is always a great thing and this spring Jeremy and I made a new discovery. A mere week before, we could see tons of smelt in the waters we fished, but after a long time of chasing and eating the smelts, the salmon almost seamed to become lethargic and bored with all of our smelt patterns and even the real thing. Nobody seemed to be hooking the Salmon. Bait fishermen, spin fishermen and fly fishermen alike were having trouble tricking the Salmon with smelt. There simply seemed to be too much of a good thing. So Jeremy and I turned back to our roots and tied on the wooly buggers, big rubber legged buggy looking things and big leech patterns. We made long casts and swung them through the pools with sinking lines and floating lines; but the results were still not what they should be, considering the amount of Salmon in the waters we were fishing. The Salmon were swirling around and taunting us, but they just weren’t interested in chasing our flies down. So, almost as a last resort we decided to fish the faster currents dead drifting our big bugs, wooly buggers and leach patterns with small pheasentail nymphs used as dropper patterns. It was obvious that we found the magic key and unlocked the puzzle. There was no doubt that these salmon wanted our big buggy flies in the manner we were presenting them. We started consistently hooking some of the most beautiful salmon. The salmon would hit hard, immediately jump clear out of the water and continue to perform their trademark arial acrobatics until they were landed. Jeremy and I both caught and released some beautiful fish and it was such a feeling of accomplishment to crack this springs salmon code. Don’t get me wrong, smelt are a huge forage fish here in Maine and salmon love them. And, many times the smelt patterns and traditional streamer flies are the top producers. But, sometimes, when the go-to stuff isn’t working its magic for whatever reason, you gotta change it up and throw em’ a bone that they can’t refuse.