Cats aren't the only predators who like to prey on mice. Bass, pike and trout will also gladly attack and wolf down these furry little rodents. And even though they are terrestrial creatures by nature, mice often stumble into lakes, ponds and rivers. Some voles, such as the red-back species, also swim across rivers in Canada, Alaska and the northern U.S., providing an easy meal for a hungry rainbows, browns, smallmouth bass and northern pike.
The greatest thing about mice and voles from an angler's perspective is that they float. This of course, means fishing them is a topwater game — the most exciting fishing of all. Another plus is that rodents are large food items and tend to entice strikes from BIG fish.
Some mouse flies I've seen look so realistic you'd think they could easily crawl away. Such patterns will definitely catch fish, but aren't necessary. Retailers such as Bass Pro Shops and local fly shops offer a variety of mouse flies. Virtually all of them will work if a bass, pike or trout is in a feeding mood. Even an untrimmed Muddler Minnow or large cricket fly will work in a pinch. But a more accurate pattern is certainly preferable.
I tie most of my mouse flies with a simple tail of hair, wool yarn, soft leather or rubber bands. After the tail is tied in, I spin on deer hair for the body and trim it to the rodent's natural profile — sort of an oblong blob. Natural deer hair is fairly close to a mouse's color, or you can die it gray if you want a more realistic hue.
For most fishing, size 1/0, 1 or 2 hooks are best. Be sure to trim the hair back enough where the mouse's belly is so you have good hook-setting clearance.
These flies are cumbersome to cast and become even heavier when they soak up a bit of water. Use an 8 1/2-9 1/2 foot rod with a fairly stiff action taking a 7-9 weight line so you can control them effectively. A leader of 9-10 feet tapering to a 6-12 pound tippet works well. Add a shock tippet of 30-to 40-pound mono if you're going after northerns.
Fishing Mouse Flies
Several tactics work for fishing mouse flies. When float fishing Alaskan or Canadian rivers, you'll be imitating voles that sometimes swim out to cross the flowage. Cast your offering tight to blow-downs and logjams near shore where rainbows and pike wait for voles to enter. Then simply work them back with a slow, v-waking retrieve.
No twitches are required. Simply swim the fly back slowly like a real vole being washed downstream as it tries to swim. Wait until the fish firmly grabs the fly before setting the hook.
Sometimes this same retrieve works for pike and bass in lakes. Cast to cover, twitch the fly, and then slowly crawl it back. Other times a stop-and-go presentation works better. Try to simulate a mouse that accidentally fell into the water and is stunned and slowly realizing its dire predicament. Give a twitch, then pause, then a more violent twitch. Then work the mouse back in strips of 12-18 inches.
Keep the rod tip low to the water, and when a fish wallops the mouse, pause before setting up hard. Chances are good that anything grabbing a mouse will be a worthy adversary. Hold on tight and enjoy the fight!