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.
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.
If you fall down in a shallow stream and anyone is watching, rather than splashing around while you embarrassingly try to stand up, just stay there. Calmly pick up some stones from the stream bottom and examine them very carefully one by one as if you are making a study of the insect life on the streambottom.
Many trout refusals of dry flies result from one of two problems which can be easily corrected. First the fly may be too large for his liking. Here we simply switch to a smaller fly. A dragging dry fly is another cause for refusals. Here a slack line cast, or a different presentation position, or a different presentation angle or dropping your dry fly closer to the trout’s feeding station will enable the dry fly to drift naturally and the trout will take it solidly.
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.
Here is how you can easily solve the dilemma of trout nymph fishing. On a day when you have caught several dozen trout on dry flies you know they are feeding well. Now, replace the dry fly with a nymph and continue fishing the same sections of the pools. If you do not continue catching as many trout as you did with dry’s the reason is very simple: You are getting strikes but not detecting them.
I find that the new Murray’s Trout Nymph leader with its special knotted taper and two Scientific Anglers Indicators spaced along it is a great help in discerning the strikes.
As the nymph drifts naturally along the stream bottom be sure to retrieve the line with long line hand strips. Short pulls mask the strike. When you see the strike set the hook quickly with both the line hand and the rod.
When the mountain trout streams are carrying a high water level I always catch more fish by using short casts to precise feeding stations. Under these conditions long casts which place extra line and leader on the water can easily produce drag on the fly even when using your best effort to bridge the fast currents with your fly rod. These fast dragging drifts will almost always be refused by the trout.
Another good reason to use short casts in high streams is because the feeding stations are much more compressed than they are in a normal stream level. Dinner-plate accuracy in fly placement is often a must in high streams. The positive side of this is that the trout has less time to evaluate our flies so an accurate cast to a precise feeding station usually brings a strike.
I had taken eight trout in the last several pools on my Murray’s Flying Beetle so when I spotted a nice trout feeding on the surface in the next pool I felt pretty sure he would take my beetle. He came up and looked at it on three consecutive drifts but he would not take it. I brought it in and blotted it dry and redressed it with floatant. On the next drift over the trout he took it solidly. Why? I believe it was because when it was dried and dressed it presented a new light pattern on the streams surface which looked better to him.
In this podcast Harry Murray covers tactics which work well for him as the smallmouth bass rivers get low. These include: 1) Fishing the tails of the pools with the Murray’s Floating Chub Minnows at dusk and dawn. 2) Fishing aquatic grass beds 3) Fishing river crossing ledges.
In the second part of the podcast Harry Murray discusses trout fishing the spring creeks and rich freestone streams with trico mayflies and terrestrial patterns late in the summer. He also covers the tactics and flies which are productive in the low clear mountain streams late in the summer.
The trout in the mountain streams in Virginia are coming up well to the hatches now and you can get great action with dry flies. There is a three step challenge for us here: First we must select a fly that will match the hatch, then we must identify the feeding stations and finally we must get a natural drift. When these steps are done correctly you are almost assured of a take and you know you have mastered this method. Fighting and landing this trout is purely secondary and requires little skill. For this reason I developed the “pop strike” many years ago. When the trout takes my dry fly I hook him quickly but then I instantly drop the rod to reduce the tension on the trout. This way I know I fooled him, but the majority become unhooked quickly and are thus not stressed.
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.
When your dog goes on point and you put up a covey of quail you seldom hit anything if you blast into the covey. You are much more successful if you pick out a specific bird and aim carefully to drop that one, then go to the second bird. This also holds true if you try casting into a pod of rising trout because you usually get drag before a specific trout sees your fly. A more successful tactic is to pick out a specific trout and present your fly accurately to that fish.
The history: A civil suit in Alleghany County, VA could set a precedent that allows landowners to usurp the state’s ownership of miles and miles of public rivers.
A developer of a golf course community, who claims to have centuries’ old King’s Grants, wants to privatize several miles of the lower Jackson River (one of Virginia’s largest trout streams and year round tailwater fisheries). He is suing two anglers who point out that the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries promotes this section as public water, where we’re all entitled to fish, wade and anchor boats.
Everyone in Virginia who enjoys its rivers stands to lose if the developer wins and establishes a precedent that will allow other landowners to post river bottoms passing through their property. Anglers, hunters, and paddlers could all face similar suits on other waters even though the state has declared them to be public.
The Attorney General refuses to step into the fray. As a result, the two anglers are fighting this alone, footing the hefty legal bills to defend not just themselves but all Virginians.
They have set up a legal defense fund called Virginia Rivers Defense Fund (VRDF) to help with their legal fees.
To make a tax deductible donation, one can donate through the website or send checks to:
Friends of the Rivers of Virginia (FORVA) – a 501(c)(3) registered charity
PO Box 1750
Roanoke, VA 24008
(Please write VRDF in the memo line)
Last spring we had great hatches on the trout streams in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the brook trout fed heavily on the naturals and readily took our flies. One evening my Mr. Rapidan Dry Fly was pulled up on the edge of a sloping ledge by a fast current. Just as I started to pick it up a large brook trout jumped from the stream up on the edge of the ledge and took my fly. Last fall in the Yellowstone National Park a nice cutthroat, not to be outdone by the brook trout, repeated almost the same move to take my dry fly.
The smallmouth fishing was great in Virginia in 2010. Although we fished many streams the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah River produced such great action we spent most of our time here, within 20 minutes of our fly shop. For example, I had a friend visiting in June and in one afternoon he caught well over 50 smallmouth bass, some of which were quite large.
The action stated earlier (March) and lasting longer (November) than we usually have, and we normally fished 4-5 days each week. This gave us time to experiment with our New Scott Switch Rods (which are great for bass) and the new bass flies we were designing. I’m very excited about the 5 new flies I’ve added to our Magnum Series designed to catch large bass. By fall the new Floating Chub Minnows and Floating Dace Minnows had become our favorites because of the large numbers of bass these caught. Seeing the wale of a bass coming from 10 feet away to take a Floating Chub Minnow is a very exciting game. The hexagenia hatch was so heavy and the fishing was so fast that I fished the river almost every evening in September by dancing the Mr. Rapidan Skaters over rising bass.
Many of the students in our “Smallmouth On The Stream Schools” caught so many bass in 2 days that they were ready to fish for smallmouth anywhere, even on their own.
We caught more large Carp this year than we ever have prompting us to put our 2 new carp flies into our line. Be sure to have plenty of backing on your reel because a 20lb. carp can make powerfully long runs.
How late in the season can you fish for trout? The way I love trout fishing I go all the way through the winter. However, I’m very careful to select spots where I know there are springs to warm the stream. For example, as I write this in the office of my fly shop I can look out the window at Big Stoney Creek and know there is a large spring just downstream that pulls the trout and prompts their feeding. To find the spring coming in from the side of the stream just look for bright green weed growth along the bank and in the stream.
There are times when you can catch many large trout in large streams by fishing dry flies down and across stream. However, the normal strike of lifting the rod straight up simply pulls the fly out of the mouth of many of these trout. A trick I use is to set the hook by swinging the rod low to my side of the trout. This low side sweeping rod motion along with the current pulling to the side on the leader pulls the fly into the trout’s jaw where he is hooked solidly. This is especially effective when you get strikes from large deliberate browns and cutthroats.