Music in the Mountains Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
The next time you hike into a mountain trout stream from a ridge high up on the mountain, pause before descending far down the trail. Listen to see if you can hear the stream far below. Possibly you will discern a subtle low rumble that may remind you of the low notes of a tuba. Descend further and you may detect more of the flowing of the stream resembling a French Horn picking up the tune. Another thousand feet down the trail, as you approach the stream, the gurgling melody of the stream resembles a clarinet picking up the lead.
This music of the trout stream accompanied by the beautiful melodies of the songbirds is a wonderful reward nature provides in the mountains.
During March and April I fish these flies on a Murray’s Classic 9 foot 5X Leader. During May and June I use Murray’s Classic 9 foot 6X Leader. These flies listed above match our early season aquatic hatches so I use them to fish one-on-one to the rising trout. If the hatches are spare I use the same flies to cover the water by carefully fishing the feeding stations.
Rewarding Outdoor-Experiences Blog Murray’s Fly Shop
One of the most rewarding outdoor-experiences is to hike into the remote sections of the mountain trout streams in order to camp and fish for several days. I like to set up my tent where two of the main feeder streams enter the streams. This enables me to fish the main stream one day and each of the feeders the next two days. By choosing the location carefully and heading into the mountains in the middle of the week, you will often heave the whole stream to yourself and find outstanding trout fishing.
I use Chest High Waders when I am fishing large trout streams and smallmouth bass rivers. I wear hippers when I am fishing mountain trout streams. If I walk into a mountain trout streams for two miles or less I wear my hippers to walk in. If I plan to walk in more than two miles, I hang my hippers over my shoulder and wear hiking shoes to walk in, then stick my shoes up on the bank and put my hippers on to fish. After I finish fishing, I put my hiking shoes back on and carry my hippers to walk back out of the mountain.
Many years ago I used to tie my dry flies with thick clumps of spade hackle and could not explain why I got many refusals from rising trout. It finally dawned on me that I was using way too many hackle fibers in the tail. I had been using so many that it possibly looked like part of the fly’s body to the trout. Even though I may have been tying a dry fly on a size 14 hook which matched the natural insects, by the time I tied in a very thick clump of tail hackle fibers, my fly looked like a size 10 to the trout.
I now use only enough spade hackle or straight moose body hair for my dry fly tails to help float my flies and my catch is greatly improved.
In order to improve the durability of my flies when I tie them, I like to place a mini-drop of head cement at each tie-in and tie-off spot as I add a new material. I find that a easy way to do this is to keep some head cement in a hypodermic needle and just place a mini-drop where I need it. In order to keep the cement from drying in the syringe and plugging the needle shut, I stick it in a cork between steps.
Ideal Flies. Select the flies you carry to the stream carefully so you can meet the demands at that specific time. One day on the Yellowstone River at Livingston, Montana I handed my wife a small fly box containing a dozen flies and showed her where to fish a beautiful riffle as we entered the stream. My guide of seventeen years, Ray Hurley, and I headed upstream to fish some heavy water. Ray paused and said, “Just what twelve flies did you give your wife?” When I told him he smiled and said, “She is better equipped than ninety percent of the fishermen on the Yellowstone River.”
In order to help you have the right flies at the right time I have put hatch charts in my three trout books and two smallmouth bass books. I also present a podcast at the beginning of each month where I discuss the fly needs and the hatches for the coming month. My weekly “Anglers Club Newsletter” provides great timely information on the fishing and current fly needs as does my free Monthly Newsletter.
Last summer a friend took two of his fishing buddies into a small remote mountain trout stream. He had fished the stream before and felt confident in taking them to the best part of the stream. Unfortunately, he forgot to take his map with him. There were many small trails leading off the main trail that he had forgotten. They hiked for three hours and never did find the stream and finally climbed back up to the top of the mountain and came home.
I have been lost twice in the mountains when I was trying to take shortcuts to the streams. Once you are on the stream you should be okay in finding your way. However, some find mountain trout streams have no trails in or out and there may be private land at the lower end of the stream where trespassing is not allowed.
I always have the map in my vest for the stream I am fishing in the back country.
Maps – When hiking into remote mountain trout streams it is wise to have the topographic map for that area in your vest, pack or pouch. There are many trails throughout the mountains and it is easy to get lost. A friend tried to fine one recently without the map. It should have taken him forty five minutes to get to the trout stream, however he hiked three hours and never did find the trout stream.
Late last summer I drove a long distance to fish a mountain trout stream. When I arrived at the lower end of the stream, I was surprised to find it was very discolored as a result of recent rains. Checking my topographic maps I noticed that two substantial feeder streams entered my stream just a mile upstream. By hiking up the trail beside the main stream until I got upstream of the two feeder streams, I found clear water and had outstanding fishing.
On a different trip to a different stream the high stream level forced me to hike several miles upstream to where a nice little feeder brook entered the main stream. I had never fished this little feeder brook before, but that day I had one of the finest days of dry fly fishing I have ever experienced. Often you are rewarded with outstanding fishing after a short hike.
When we are floating the smallmouth bass river or climbing the mountain trout stream we usually carry a lunch and drinking water in our vest. After fishing for several hours our hands may be grubby. I carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my vest and scrub my hands good before eating lunch.
At this time of the year caddisflies are very active. Frequently each evening there are adults returning to the streams to deposit eggs as well as emerging adults from the stream. For every adult we see drifting along the surface of the stream there are possibly a dozen pupa drifting just below the surface of the stream preparing to hatch into an adult.
A good way to cash in on this great action is to attach a Mr. Rapidan Delta Wing Dry Caddis to the leader and then attach a two foot strand of tippet material to the bend of the dry fly hook with an improved clinch knot. To this attach a Murray’s Caddis Pupa. On large trout streams and smallmouth rivers I fish this rig across stream with a slow twitching action. On small mountain trout streams I fish this rig upstream dead drift.
Quill Gordon Mayfly Dun today in the Shenandoah National Park. It came off around 2:00 this afternoon during our first Mountain Trout Fly Fishing School of 2013. The Epeorus Pleuralis – Quill Gordon Mayfly is the first mayfly to hatch in the Shenandoah National Park. These mayflies are roughly a size #14 and are imitated very well by a Mr. Rapidan Parachute #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.
The maple trees along the river are pushing their buds and the crocus have arrived. I usually think of the first hatching Quill Gordon Mayfly’s in the Shenandoah National Park arriving about 10 days or so after the crocus in my yard. The fishing continues to be slow due to cool stream temps as a result of the melting snow. The best success on the mountain streams will be found in the lower stretches over the next week and if you can find a south facing area all the better.