For this months fly fishing podcast I want to discuss some of the hatches that we are seeing on our trout streams and the best tactics and flies to fish them. There are some good Green Sedge Caddis hatches on the streams now. When you spot these feeders go one on one with each trout with a Mr. Rapidan Olive Delta Wing Dry Caddis size 16. At times it can be difficult to tell if a feeding trout is taking the adult or the pupa so I use a two fly rig (which I explain in detail in this podcast) using the above fly and a Murray’s Olive Caddis Pupa size 14.
The bass rivers are at a level where many large smallmouth bass move onto the shallow tails of the pools at dusk to feed on the chub minnows and dace minnows which live here. The most productive way I’ve found to fish the tails of the pools is to wade into the upper part of the riffle below them and wade upstream to just below the lip of the pool above that I plan to fish. From here I fan my casts up and across stream at a slight angle to cover all of the water I can reach. I use a line hand strip-pause-strip retrieve that swims my Floating Minnow just slightly faster than the current is pushing it. (For more techniques listen to the second part of the podcast.)
On a very large yearly calendar on my kitchen wall for the past thirty years I have recorded my daily fishing information as soon as I get back home. Information which I find useful in planning future trips, which include: water temperature, water level, water clarity, hatches, where I fished that day, general success and most effective flies. On my two week fishing trip to distant locations I record where I got the best fishing, where I got the worst fishing, hatches and any unusual information which will help me plan my next trip to that area, such as take warmer clothing.
Perusing these calendars in the off-season brings back many great memories. I also find them invaluable in planning my daily trips and long trips in season.
Trip Information in the form of Good Stream Notes help ensure fishing success in the future.
When I return home from a fishing trip of several weeks away from my home area I record information which helps me plan future trips. Tips which help me include: the streams which provided the best fishing and which area, the streams which provides the slowest fishing, all of the best hatches and the time of the day, the best flies and the best food and lodging.
I really enjoyed identifying the aquatic insect hatches with Art Flick’s help for the three book I have written on the subject. And I still spend a great amount of time studying and photographing aquatic insects. Admittedly, I do rely on this information when I am fishing.
However, one of the finest anglers I have ever known simplifies the match the hatch game. He always studied the streams carefully and each day when we were on the stream he watched closely to see what was hatching. The important physical features to him were the size and color of the hatching insects. Then armed with this information he would select the fly to use that day which matches the naturals in size and color. I have never fished with anyone who caught more trout than Jack Sperry.
Just as Mother Nature controls the time of the year in which the beautiful little wildflowers push through the thick leaf carpet in the mountains to bloom, so does she dictate the time which the natural insects hatch in the streams. Since I am fond of photographing both of these I have kept stream notes on them for forty years.
Interestingly enough this has helped me in my fishing because usually a specific fly hatch will coincide with the blooming of a specific wildflower. The beautiful little blood root which is the first wildflower to bloom in many mountains tells me it is time for the first aquatic insect hatch. The trillium follows this and usually brings the next two aquatic insect hatches. Different wildflowers follow throughout the season with their accompanying hatches.
The specific insects that hatch at these times vary from one geographical part of the country to the next. However, it repeats each year in a predictable pattern. Keep stream notes and you will be richly rewarded.
The sulphur mayflies are coming off well now and the trout are feeding on both the nymphs and the adult (dun and spinner). A very special friend the late John Snyder, one of the finest brown trout fly fishermen on the east coast, was so successful with the nymphs on this hatch that he would often continue fishing them a hour into the hatch, long after the rest of us had switched to the duns.
If you want to play John’s game use a Murray’s Professor Nymph 14 and fish it upstream dead drift in the deep runs and below the riffles and even dress it with a cream floatant and fish to rising brown trout. This latter ploy is very effective on heavily fished streams.
I actually enjoy flyfishing drys best on the Sulphur hatch and use both Ed Shenk’s Sulphur 16 & 18 and the Murray’s Sulphur Dry 16 & 18 and fish all of these on 6X.
I always watch for feeding trout and go one on one with these fish. However, if I don’t see risers I use the dry flies to cover the water. Remember, the streams are getting lower and the brown trout are wary so use a cautious approach.
My final tip on the sulphur hatch is to stay on the stream until dark in order to cash in on both the duns and spinners.
There is a good hatch of aquatic insects on the stream and the trout are feeding well upon them. You catch several of these insects and by carefully selecting a dry fly from your box you are confident you have a good match for it. However, fishing this fly to rising trout for half and hour does not bring a single strike. On each of your presentation casts you can clearly distinguish your fly from the naturals around it. Then it dawns on you…if it does not look exactly like the naturals to you, it probably does not look like a natural to the trout. Most likely your fly is too large or the wrong color…Try again.