Fly Fishing Stream Report for May. In the first part of this podcast Harry Murray discusses the wonderful dry fly fishing that you can find in May by covering the aquatic insect hatch throughout May, the best fly patterns to match each one and the effective tactics. In the second part Harry discusses the specific sections of the rivers which gives us good smallmouth action in May. He discusses the flies, leaders, and fly lines that help us in the different feeding stations as well as the most effective tactics in the different sections of the river.
Several years ago I stopped in a fly shop in Montana which was owned by a good friend. One of his employees was an excellent fly tyer and the gentleman, who had never fished for smallmouth bass but knowing I fished for them often, pulled out several beautiful, well tied flies he called smallmouth streamers for me to see. I complimented him on the great appearance of his smallmouth streamers, some of which he had skillfully incorporated more than twenty different body parts. When we were outside in our car I turned to my son, Jeff, and said, “Those were some of the most beautiful smallmouth streamers I have ever seen, but I do not believe they will catch many fish because with all that material on them it will be next to impossible to sink them.”
Several years before this we had done extensive testing on new fly designs and found that in many cases the most sparsely tied nymphs and streamers caught the most bass and trout. I believe much of this success came from the facts that these flies sank well, were strongly suggestive of the natural nymphs and minnows I was striving to mimic and could easily be made to duplicate the swimming action of these naturals.
Some of our flies which fall into this classification are groups of flies in our Shenandoah Simple Streamer series for both bass and trout, the Mr. Rapidan Soft Hackle series for both bass and trout, many of flies (although they are drys) in my “Change of Pace” trout series, the Murray’s Marauders, the Murray’s Floating Minnows and the Murray’s Strymphs.
The outstanding book, Simple Flies by Morgan Lyle shows how to tie and fish fifty two flies for trout, bass and in saltwater. If you are considering tying some new flies for your personal use I believe using the simple approach I have used in many of my flies and those Morgan Lyle discusses in his great book will help you catch many fish.
In this Virginia Fly Fishing Stream Report, Harry Murray discusses the trout fishing in March including the natural nymphs that are active early in the month and what flies to use to match the hatch. He also discusses the importance of the water temperature and how this prompts the nymphs to emerge into the adult flies.
A large trout comes up and looks at your dry fly but refuses it. There is a natural tendency to cast back to him right away to try him again. A ploy which works best for me is to hold my cast for five minutes until I am sure he is back on his feeding station before casting to him again. If he refuses the second drift I got to a smaller fly that creates an entirely different light pattern and this usually takes him.
Always land your trout with a net as quickly as possible to prevent stressing them. Revive your trout completely before releasing him. Choose water from one to two feet deep with a moderate current. I gently face the trout into the current, holding him upright tightly with my right hand around his tail and with my left hand under his head to balance him. I hold the trout in this position until I am sure he can hold this upright posture on his own. This is easy for me to discern as I slowly open the grip with my right hand, if he leans to the side I tighten my grip and hold him another two to three minutes until he can keep his balance. At this point I slowly remove my right hand and then my left hand and I know this trout will survive. Make all of your movement slowly because otherwise you will frighten the trout and he will lunge unto deep water where you can’t get him. Often a lunger will wobble on downstream and will turn bell-up and die.
My angler’s calendar is very large, having about two inch square spaces for each date. This allows plenty of space for me to write in where I fished that day, the water temperature, the hatches, water level, my catch and any other important information. Each January when I get a new calendar I write in the above information from previous years. This brings back wonderful memories as I record these previous trips. It also helps me plan future fishing trips as I correlate the present stream conditions and hatches with what I did on past trips under similar conditions. Great fun!
I have a good friend who injured his right shoulder badly. Since he cast with his right hand he was very disappointed that he would loose a season’s fishing while he recovered from surgery. I encouraged him to just switch over and cast with his left hand which he did and he was able to fish the whole season.
In my fly fishing schools I have always had to cast with both hands to help all of my students. If you have not tried this give it a go. You will be pleased how well you do. After all you already know the proper casting technique.
“I am new to fly fishing and need advice on rods for freshwater fishing”. This question came in as email and I believe many anglers are at this point. In order to answer this in a meaningful way I will discuss the outfits I use in various types of fly fishing and why. I will break this down into four separate blogs and post one each week:
(A) Small Mountain Streams
(B) Large Eastern Trout Streams and Western Spring Creeks
(C) Large Western Trout Streams
(D) Bass Streams and Lakes
(A) Small Mountain Trout Streams
These streams require rods that give good accuracy and delicacy from twenty to thirty feet which are short enough to cast under the overhanging tree limbs. In rod design this calls for a rod with a delicate tip and a butt section that is firm enough to turn the tip over. Three weight rods are excellent for this delicate fishing with flies from size 22 up to size 10. Rods which are 6 foot 10 inches long up to 7 1/2 feet are ideal. My favorite is the Murray/Scott Mountain Trout Rod which is 6 foot 10 inches long, 3 piece and 3 weight. This approach will help you select the correct tackle to use on small trout streams all across the country.
The next section of these blogs will be posted next Thursday!
When I hike into the remote hollows to fish mountain trout streams I wear my felt sole boot foot hippers if I am going two miles or less. If I am going to hike in more than two miles I wear hiking shoes and hang my hippers over my shoulders. Then when I get to the area I plan to fish I put my hippers on and hide my hiking shoes behind a tree. When I finish fishing I retrieve my hiking shoes and wear these back to my jeep. I never wear chest-high or waist-high waders when fishing small mountain trout streams because they limit my ability to crawl along the streams.
I have a good angling friend who consistently gets very good trout fishing. In order to accomplish this he simply says, “I walk away from the roads.” He uses this ploy on both stocked streams and wild brook trout streams. Fortunately one can easily achieve this on the mountain streams. The National Forest and National Parks have provided good roads to the access points at the heads of these streams. By parking at these trail heads on the tops of the mountains and walking in a mile or two you can often find great trout fishing. I have covered many of these trail head access points in my book, Virginia Blue Ribbon Streams.
Casting directly into a strong wind or with a strong wind coming in on your casting arm can present problems. One way I try to combat a wind blowing straight at me is to cast a tight loop on my forward cast and keep it down close to the water. Another method is to use a side arm cast to keep the line flowing down close to the stream so the wind does not catch it. In a severe wind, especially when I am wading at the Outer Banks I turn around and shoot my back cast. You can always switch hands and cast with your other hand if the wind is on your normal casting arm. Since you already know what is needed to cast properly this last ploy is much easier than you might expect.
In this Podcast Harry Murray discusses Fly Fishing Tactics for Trout in the streams of the Shenandoah Valley including the Shenandoah National Park and George Washington / Jefferson National Forests in late spring and early summer (May – June).
Harry’s discussion on the trout stream conditions and expectations from now until the end of the summer. He discusses the natural food present and what flies to use to represent these, how to spot the trout, the best tactics to use and much more…..
It is important to know the specific mayflies that will be hatching as the season progresses so you know which fly with which to fish. An easy way to predict this as I see in 30 years of my stream notes is to watch the wildflowers in the mountains.
*When the blood root is out full the Quill Gordons are hatching well so use a Mr. Rapidan Dry size 14.
*When the Trillium are beginning to break through the little Blue Quills are on in good numbers so use a Blue Quill Dry size 16 or 18.
*When the Trillium are out full all around the streams the March Browns are hatching well so use a Mr. Rapidan Dry size 14.
We seldom consider fishing streamers in mountain trout streams, but here is a technique that is very successful for me on the mountain streams as well as in our larger trout streams in the conditions we have now. I call it BOUNCE RETRIEVE. Wading upstream and casting straight upstream or up and across stream at a 20 degree angle I allow my streamer to sink deeply. Then I lift the fly rod and get tight to the streamer with my line hand. As the current pushes the streamer back downstream I lift the fly rod 45 degrees over the stream which cause my streamer to swim up through the current just like a natural minnow. Keeping a tight line on the fly with my line hand, I continue this lifting and dropping rod motion to swim the fly all the way throughout the pools. This is actually easier than nymph fishing because you will feel these strikes.
Great Fly Fishing awaits! The Brook Trout in the Blue Ridge Mountains are feeding like crazy! Expect to find a lot of hatching mayflies: March Browns, Light Cahills, Gray Fox’s, Little Yellow Stoneflies and Caddis Flies are coming off in abundance on many of these streams! If you are waiting for the fishing to get good…. You are about to miss it. A Mr. Rapidan Dry #14 or #16 or #16 Murray’s Little Yellow Stonefly fished on 5x tippet with a drag free drift is unstoppable! Check out the Trout Fishing Report at www.Murraysflyshop.com
Fishing Report: The local trout streams are all in great shape. Hike down from the Skyline Drive or Blue Ridge Parkway for your best water levels on the native Brook Trout streams. The local smallmouth streams are all in great shape. Fishing has been good, bring a sink tip fly line a heavy streamers since the rivers are still full. Floating is your best bet if you have access to a canoe, boat, kayak or something that will suffice.
The Fly Shop will be closed on Memorial Day…. I’m going fishing!! So give me a call Saturday to get the information on where to go and what to use.