Fly Fishing Podcast for December 2017 by Harry Murray
This months fly fishing podcast includes a detailed discussion on the trout fishing in December. Since the brook trout are still spawning in December I like to fish the stocked trout streams instead.
Many of the stocked trout streams such as the Jackson (near Covington), Bullpasture (near Williamsville) and Big Stoney Creek in Edinburg have natural springs that the trout love. You can find these springs on the steams by looking for the rich aquatic growth they provide. The trout will hold near these springs and feed on cress bug and shrimp patterns.
Many of my customers will come into the fly shop and ask, “can I go bass fishing in December?” Yes, you can. Are you going to catch a lot of bass? No–but you might catch a big one. I have some friends that are die hard bass fishermen that will go out in any kind of weather and they have been catching some big bass. They will float the river to find the deepest pools they can find and fish with big bugs such as a Madtom/Sculpin size 4, Magnum Darter size 4 and Creek Chub size 4.
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.
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.
Listen to Harry’s discussion on Fishing Shrimp and Cress Bugs for Trout – These insects are available to trout on many streams but this podcast focuses on Spring Creek fly fishing. The Spring Creeks, with their high PH and consistent temperatures, are an ideal environment for the production of abundant numbers of both freshwater shrimp and cress bugs. The selective feeding habits unique to spring creek trout is a direct result of the abundance of food availability throughout the year. Much of this food is in the form of shrimp and cress bugs. Listen as Harry discusses the techniques and tactics to turn a tough day of spring creek fishing into an outstanding day by using a few simple methods he has honed to perfection since the early 1960’s.