Fly Fishing Report for Smallmouth Bass & Trout–May 2014
In this fly fishing podcast Harry Murray discusses the streams conditions plus the techniques to use at this time of the year on our smallmouth bass rivers in the first part. The second part includes the conditions of the trout streams and what flies and techniques to use.
Jeff Murray likes this time of the year because the large trout feed well. Just remember the Brook Trout are well underway with their spawning by mid-October here in the mid-Atlantic area. Please refrain from fishing the native Brook Trout streams until late February (the eggs have hatched by then).
As the trout streams start getting colder an easy way to stay warm and comfortable is to wear a 200 weight pair of polartec pants under your waders.
Large trout feeding on natural trico mayflies are very selective on the artificial flies they will take and the way they drift during the main part of the hatch. However, if you get to the stream before the hatch is heavy and stay after the spinner fall is sparce you can often catch a few easy trout.
Many of our best stocked trout streams in Virginia such as Big Stoney, Mill Creek and the Bullpasture have gotten very high from heavy rains in the past two weeks. This can actually help the flyfishing when the streams drop back to normal levels because the trout become distrubuted throughout the streams.
Frequently the most productive sections of the streams for flyfishing will now be the deepest pools from a mile to five miles downstream of the areas that are normally stocked. Fish these thoroughly with the Murray’s Betsy Streamer and Pearl Marauder both in size 10.
Many of our large trout streams such as Big Stoney, the Jackson River and the Bullpasture are still carrying full water levels. The fishing is good and we’re taking some of the trout on the surface, but the large trout are being caught by fishing deeply with streamers.
Due to the water volume I use what I call an “Upstream Bounce Retrieve” to help me get my streamers deeply and still impart a realistic minnow-swimming action to my fly. To use this method I wade upstream and cast upstream at no more that a 40 degree angle. I allow my streamer to sink deeply upon presentation then get tight to it with my line hand. As the current pushes my streamer downstream I produce bouncing streamer-swimming action by lifting my fly rod to a 45 degree angle then dropping it back down to a parallel to the streams surface. Keeping a tight line with my line hand and imparting this lifting and dropping action every five feet of the drift produces a teasing minnnow action that many large trout cannot resist.
Earlier we covered how to catch large brown trout in the riffles at this time of the year (late fall/ winter). Today let’s look at a very effective method for flyfishing to trout in the deepest parts of the large pools when using a floating fly line when the basic across stream tactic will not get our flies deep enough. Many of these deep pools can be flyfished effectively with a floating fly line using a technique I call “Sweeping a Streamer” with sculpin minnow imitations such as Shenk’s Sculpin and Murray’s Black Madtom/Sculpin. In fact, this technique will enable you to get your streamers deeper than any method you can use with a floating fly line. Set yourself up right beside the deep water you plan to fish. Your first cast is made 20 feet long up and across stream at a 45 degree angle. The streamer is allowed to sink deeply on a slack line. Once it is close to the bottom and at a 45 degree angle take up the slack line with your line hand. Now you swing the rod downstream and by staying tight on the streamer with your line hand you will quickly feel the strike as you sweep the streamer along the stream bottom and it is easy to hook the fish. Successive casts are made two feet longer at this 45 degree angle upstream and the streamer is swept along the stream bottom in the same manner. By gradually lengthening your casts in this way each drift will swim your flies along the stream bottom a little further out in the pool. Once you feel you have covered this water just wade downstream pausing at ten foot intervals to repeat this technique. You may not catch every big trout in front of you but you know they have seen your streamers.