I did not invent this phrase. One minute on Google sufficed to identify the author as Ken Miyata, who wrote an article thus titled in Fly Fisherman Magazine, Volume 13, No. 6, in 1982.
When I returned from the river yesterday evening, and asked my wife Kathy whether we had used this technique before, she said we had, on the Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam. I couldn’t remember, but the reason for the conversation was that I had, that evening, successfully “anted the hatch”.
Here’s how it happened. Two evenings ago I had arrived at a particular pool, to observe fish rising vigorously. It’s been mostly about caddis lately, but I could not interest any rising fish, there or elsewhere, with either a caddis pattern or a yellow drake that’s been around some evenings. I went fishless.
Yesterday evening I returned to that same pool, and fish were again rising. I got a hefty triploid (stocker) rainbow on a good sized EH caddis, to start. And then nothing. I left the pool, and when I returned, fish were rising in the tail-out and I positioned myself so as to be able to cast straight upstream. Then I took out my midge box to look for inspiration. And … in the box were some small ants I hadn’t remembered putting there. I selected a parachute ant, size 20, put it on a 6X tippet, and BINGO! In the photo, you can see the white post of the fly in the net, above the fish’s eye. It’s a long-jawed male of about 15″. I caught nothing further, but this fish pleased me so much that I left with a BIG smile on my face. Rio Grande, near Taos, NM.