Tag Archives: fly fishing trout

Fly Fishing in October Podcast

Fly Fishing in October Podcast by Harry Murray

Fly Fishing in October for trout

Since the brook trout are spawning in October, November, and December we feel it is not good to stress them by fishing for them even though we return them to the stream.

So let’s look at the nymph fishing tactics we use in large streams both in the Rockies and in the East.

I learned to fish nymphs from Charlie Brooks in the 1970’s and 1980’s in the streams around West Yellowstone,  Montana.  So in this months fly fishing podcast I want to discuss in detail the two tactics of Charlie’s that I use often.

  1. Upstream Dead Drift Fishing-  This technique relies on you seeing the strike therefore I rely heavily on my Bright Butt Leader and Scientific Anglers Indicators.
  2. Swing Nymphing– This technique is used on deeper runs where upstream dead drift nymphing is not possible.  Many beginners quickly  master this method because the strikes are detected by feeling the strike rather than seeing it.
Fly Fishing in October for Bass
Since October is considered a great time to catch large bass Harry discusses the flies and tactics which he finds productive.

Fly Fishing for Bass in October

Many of the old timers around Edinburg where I grew up in the 1950’s caught many of their largest bass of the year in October by using live bait such as Hog Suckers, Bluegills, and Darter Minnows.  Several years ago I designed my Magnum Streamer Series which both look and fish like a real minnow.  Today I will be discussing the Murray’s  Magnum Hog Sucker, Magnum Darter, and Magnum Bluegill and the best way to fish each.

If you need help finding the access places on the North and South Fork of the Shenandoah River, then stop by the fly shop and we can show you the best areas on our stores master map.

Murray’s Pop Strike

Wild Brook Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
This wild brook trout was just released with a pop strike ad he is headed back home.

When the dry fly fishing is fast and I am catching many cutthroats in the mountain trout streams in the Rockies or brook trout in the Eastern mountain streams, my goal is to raise and hook many trout and then release them as quickly as I can so I do not stress them. My Pop Strike consists of setting the hook on the strike so I know I have fooled him, then two or three seconds later I release all of the tension on the fly line.  This enables more than half of my trout to swim freely away.

Maps

Shenandoah National Park North District Map 9 Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
Shenandoah National Park North District Map 9

 

Shenandoah National Park Central District Map 10 Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
Shenandoah National Park Central District Map 10

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.

Clothing

Before the regular anglers around West Yellowstone got to know Charlie Brooks they called him Mr. Monotone. Brook’s, who was a very special friend told me one day when we were fishing the Madison that he finally figured out the name came from the camouflaged clothing he wore most of the time. Since Brook’s fished every day when he first moved to West Yellowstone, he was either on his way to the stream or on his way back when people saw him. Since Brooks was one of the most capable anglers I have ever known, I fully respect his desire to wear subdued colored clothing when fishing. To this day I always wear subdued colored clothing.
I really do believe this helps catch wary fish. For example, I was shocked the day a supposed well-traveled angler showed up for a bass float trip wearing a white t-shirt and white hat and insisted on standing up in the front of our Hyde Drift Boat to fish all day…nope, he caught no large fish.

Trout & Bass Fly Fishing Report–April 2016

Native Brook Trout Fishing in Virginia
April is a prime month for fishing for native brook trout in the Shenandoah National Park.

FlyFishing Report for Virginia including native brook trout and smallmouth bass fishing.

April is the favorite month for trout fishing by many serious mountain trout fishermen.  With the ideal stream levels and water temperatures, the trout are feeding and the hatches continue. In this podcast I will be discussing these specific hatches, the order in which to expect them, and what flies to use to match these hatches.  The number one selling fly to match these hatches–Mr. Rapidan Parachute Dry size 14.  I fish these on our Murray’s Classic 7 1/2ft 5X Leaders.    Also, check out our new Foam Leader Keepers. These are very handy for those that hate complicated knots and changing tippet material while on the stream.

WHAT FLIES ARE IN MY FLY BOX?

Flyfishing Report -Smallmouth Bass Fishing on the Shenandoah River
Larry enjoying a day out on the Shenandoah River.

The smallmouth bass fishing on the Shenandoah River will start to take off in April as the water warms and the bass start to feed. I like to use streamers which match the natural foods the bass are seeing in the river such as Murray’s Heavy Streamers in Chub, Sunfish or Shiner all in size 6. These are fast sinking streamers which will help get through the spring currents.  I use a Sink Tip III Fly Line with a Sinking 6ft. 2X Leader in fast currents and water over 4 feet deep.  In moderate currents I use a Scientific Anglers Frequency Boost Fly Line with a Murray’s Bright Butt 9ft 2X Leader.  The second part of this podcast includes the areas I like to fish (bank bays) at this time of the year and the productive tactics and gear including rods.

WE ARE NOW REGISTERING FOR OUR BASS FLY FISHING SCHOOLS  (JUNE TO AUGUST)

 

Calendar

Yellowstone National Park Murray's Fly Shop VA
My notes on our pack trip into the Bechler River in the Yellowstone National Park reminded me to do this again… soon!

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.

New Scientific Anglers Fly Line, Part Two

Scientific Angler Sonar Sink 30 Warm Fly Line

Part Two Blog on Scientific Anglers Sonar Sink 30 Warm Fly Line

The new Scientific Anglers Sink 30 Warm is an outstanding fast sinking head line.  The thirty foot head sinks at 4.0 to 8.0 ips (sinks four feet to fifteen feet) which has an intermediate running line.  The 200 grain line for five to seven weight rods is great for trout and smallmouth bass. The 350 grain line is excellent for eight to ten weight rods in saltwater. I find the 350 grain line ideal for my saltwater fishing at the Outer Banks. I use my Murry’s Fluorocarbon Sinking 6 foot Leader with these lines.  These lines replace the Teeny 200 and 350 grain sinking head lines.

See our next blog for more information on new Scientific Anglers Lines.

Simple Flies

Murray's Olive, Cream and Black Strymph.
The Murray’s Strymph is an outstanding fly for both smallmouth bass and trout.

Several years ago I stopped in a fly shop in Montana which was owned by a good friend. One of his employees was an excellent fly tyer and the gentleman, who had never fished for smallmouth bass but knowing I fished for them often, pulled out several beautiful, well tied flies he called smallmouth streamers for me to see. I complimented him on the great appearance of his smallmouth streamers, some of which he had skillfully incorporated more than twenty different body parts.  When we were outside in our car I turned to my son, Jeff, and said, “Those were some of the most beautiful smallmouth streamers I have ever seen, but I do not believe they will catch many fish because with all that material on them it will be next to impossible to sink them.”
Several years before this we had done extensive testing on new fly designs and found that in many cases the most sparsely tied nymphs and streamers caught the most bass and trout. I believe much of this success came from the facts that these flies sank well, were strongly suggestive of the natural nymphs and minnows I was striving to mimic and could easily be made to duplicate the swimming action of these naturals.
Some of our flies which fall into this classification are groups of flies in our Shenandoah Simple Streamer series for both bass and trout, the Mr. Rapidan Soft Hackle series  for both bass and trout, many of flies (although they are drys) in my “Change of Pace” trout series, the Murray’s Marauders, the Murray’s Floating Minnows and the Murray’s Strymphs.
The outstanding book, Simple Flies by Morgan Lyle shows how to tie and fish fifty two flies for trout, bass and in saltwater. If you are considering tying some new flies for your personal use I believe using the simple approach I have used in many of my flies and those Morgan Lyle discusses in his great book will help you catch many fish.

Where are the Natural Nymphs?

Harry Murray relies strongly on his Murray's Nymph Leader with its Scientific Anglers Indicators to catch trout on nymphs in the spring.
Harry Murray relies strongly on his Murray’s Nymph Leader with its Scientific Anglers Indicators to catch trout on nymphs in the spring.

Many natural nymphs move to the downstream side of the cobblestones in the lower sections of the riffles at this time of the season in preparation of hatching over the next several weeks. Any nymphs dislodged here are swept into the pool downstream where they are easy prey for the trout. A very effective tactic is to fish a nymph such as the Mr. Rapidan Dry size 14 upstream dead drift right below these riffles and into the runs on each side of the riffles. The Murray’s Nymph Leader with its built in Scientific Anglers Indicators is a great help in detecting these strikes.

Selective Trout

If a trout rises to take your fly but refuses it, give him a few minutes to get back on his feeding station before you cast to him again.
If a trout rises to take your fly but refuses it, give him a few minutes to get back on his feeding station before you cast to him again.

A large trout comes up and looks at your dry fly but refuses it. There is a natural tendency to cast back to him right away to try him again. A ploy which works best for me is to hold my cast for five minutes until I am sure he is back on his feeding station before casting to him again. If he refuses the second drift I got to a smaller fly that creates an entirely different light pattern and this usually takes him.

Find the Good Water

Mountain Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains
Mountain Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
I have often gotten excellent fishing on the mountain streams in the Rockies by hoking into the remote headwaters.

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.

Drag Free Drift

Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
The large brown trout in the Yellowstone River will often refuse a dragging dry fly so I always dress my whole leader often with a dry fly cream floatant when I am fishing dry flies.

The speed of the current just inches below the stream surface is usually moving faster than the current on the surface where our dry flies drift. When the leader tippet is pulled by this fast current it can produce a subtle drag on the fly which may be difficult for us to discern, however, the trout quickly detect this and may refuse to take our fly. In order to prevent this drag I always dress my dry fly leaders frequently with dry fly cream floatant. This keeps the leader on the surface where it drifts at the same rate as the fly. This produces a natural drifting dry fly and the trout take it quickly.

Cold Hands?

Simms Freestone Half Finger Fishing Gloves Murray's Fly Shop VA
Simms Freestone Half Finger Fishing Gloves

During the winter and spring I always carry Simms Freestone Half Finger Fishing Gloves in my vest. Experience has shown me that if I put these on before I start fishing I have excellent control of tying my flies onto the leader and carefully releasing the fish. These gloves come in size Medium, Large and X-Large.

Releasing Trout

Releasing a trout properly will assure he will be there to challenge you again in the future.
Releasing a trout properly will assure he will be there to challenge you again in the future.

Always land your trout with a net as quickly as possible to prevent stressing them. Revive your trout completely before releasing him. Choose water from one to two feet deep with a moderate current. I gently face the trout into the current, holding him upright tightly with my right hand around his tail and with my left hand under his head to balance him. I hold the trout in this position until I am sure he can hold this upright posture on his own.  This is easy for me to discern as I slowly open the grip with my right hand, if he leans to the side I tighten my grip and hold him another two to three minutes until he can keep his balance. At this point I slowly remove my right hand and then my left hand and I know this trout will survive.  Make all of your movement slowly because otherwise you will frighten the trout and he will lunge unto deep water where you can’t get him. Often a lunger will wobble on downstream and will turn bell-up and die.

Line Hand Strike

Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop Virginia
When fishing streamers on long casts in large western rivers, a line-hand strike is a great help in hooking the trout.

The more I fish, the more I find that I rely strongly on my line-hand strike to set the hook on the fishes strike. Here are a few examples: (1) On small streams with low-hanging tree limbs this keeps me from snapping the rod tip into the limbs which can break the rod.  (2) When fishing small flies on 7X and 8X tippets my slip strike with my line-hand followed by quickly releasing the line when I feel the hook penetrate the trout’s jaw prevents breaking the trout off on the strike. (3) When making long casts on large rivers my line hand strike in conjunction with a firm  rod strike helps telegraph the strike through the long line and hook the fish. (4) When fishing deeply sunken head in fresh and salt water my line hand strike in conjunction with a strong rod strike helps hook these deep fish.

Drag Free Dry Fly Drift

Vince Marinaro Trout Fly FIshing Murray's Fly Shop VA
Vince Marinaro became a very special friend and taught me a great deal about trout fishing.

I have been doing a great amount of experimenting this year with many different casts that are helpful in throwing slack line casts which are very helpful in achieving drag-free drifts with dry flies. These include the curve cast, reach cast, bounce cast and lazy-s cast, just to name a few casts. Vince Marinaro’s puddle casts and several variation were by far the most helpful in getting drag-free dry fly drifts.
One day as Vince and I fished the Letort, I asked him to show me how he was able to get long natural drifts with his “puddle cast”.  He made a gentle cast up the Letort and I was amazed at the long natural drift he achieved.
Here is how I use Vince’s puddle cast: On my presentation cast I extend extra line on the forward part of the cast and stop the rod tip at a forty five degree angle over the stream. This allows the line and leader to fall in a puddle of slack line and the fly drift naturally.
I encourage you to read Vince Marinaro’s, Modern Dry Fly Code, written in 1950. It is a masterpiece!

 

Change of Pace Flies

The Murray's Housefly was the first pattern in my "change of pace" flies, all of which show the trout a new light pattern and a food they feed on late in the season.
The Murray’s Housefly was the first pattern in my “change of pace” flies, all of which show the trout a new light pattern and a food they feed on late in the season.

Large trout in heavily fished streams become very tough to catch this time of year. I believe part of the reason for this is that they have seen so many regular flies that they have become too wise to take them. Plus in many cases these flies do not match the natural foods the trout feed upon.
With this in mind I have developed a series of flies I call my “change of pace flies“. My goal was twofold. First I wanted to tie dry flies which produced different light patterns and silhouettes on the surface than the flies the trout usually see, and second I wanted to produce the natural foods the trout feed upon at this time of the year. This started with the Murray’s Housefly which is extremely productive in Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont and Virginia.
After many hours of study along the stream banks and a great deal of experimenting at my fly tying vise I came up with a number of very effective drys. These include the Murray’s Yellow Jacket Dry, Murray’s Horsefly, Murray’s Oakworm Dry, Murray’s Wasp Dry, and Murray’s Moth Dry, all of which we sell in our fly shop.

Easy Trout

Fishing Trico is one my favroite alongling games. On Armstrong at Livingston, Montana I had three dozen trout rising within casting distance.
Fishing Trico is one my favorite angling games. On Armstrong at Livingston, Montana I had three dozen trout rising within casting distance.

Now that the Trico hatch is in full swing on our trout streams you can rest assured that these trout probably have examined more artificial flies than most anglers. The trout know this hatch well and want to feed on the naturals as an exceptionally tough brown trout showed me one morning on a small Pennsylvania stream when he took 67 naturals in a measured 60 seconds.
Here are some of the ploys I use on this hatch that help me.
(1) I always get to the stream well before the time of the day when I know the hatch is due to start and stay well after it is over. Often the trout are easier to fool when the naturals are sparse.
(2) In order to get a drag-free drift over a steady riser I usually use a “puddle cast” which creates extra slack in the leader.
(3) Although I normally fish 7X leaders on this hatch i find that 8X leaders often renders a more natural fly drift.

Stream Approach

On the Stream Schools Fly FIshing Murray's Fly Shop VA
In our schools we strive to teach the students how to approach and fish the different types of water in order to make the best use of their time on the stream.

The most valuable angling skill you can master is learning how to approach the specific piece of water you plan to fish. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Actually it is; all that is required is some thought about the water before you. Simply stated, the fish select feeding stations that will give them the greatest amount of food while exerting the least amount of energy. However, as we have found in our “on the stream” trout schools and smallmouth bass schools this basic skill is often neglected. In some cases the angler first wades into the stream and then asks, “Where do I fish?”
Mastering this basic skills has given many large trout on the Yellowstone River, helped me find the easy trout on the Beaverkill, catch large browns on Big Spring Creek that many anglers overlook. This approach also helps me catch nice smallmouths on the North Fork of the Shenandoah river practically within sight of my fly shop in Edinburg, Virginia.

My Helpful Angler’s Calendar

Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop Virginia
I rely strongly on my calendar to find good fishing for both trout and smallmouths throughout the season.

My angler’s calendar is very large, having about two inch square spaces for each date. This allows plenty of space for me to write in where I fished that day, the water temperature, the hatches, water level, my catch and any other important information. Each January when I get a new calendar I write in the above information from previous years.  This brings back wonderful memories as I record these previous trips. It also helps me plan future fishing trips as I correlate the present stream conditions and hatches with what I did on past trips under similar conditions. Great fun!

An Expert Anglers Insight

Jeff Murray relies on Ed Shenk's Crickets in trout streams all across the country.
Jeff Murray relies on Ed Shenk’s Crickets in trout streams all across the country.

For many years a Cricket Dry Fly has been one of my most dependable flies all across the country in all types of trout streams. I have experimented with many different ties but Ed Shenk’s Cricket has given me many more large trout than all of the other patterns. I believe the reason Ed Shenk’s Cricket is so effective is because when he designed it he was able to use materials and a style of tying which effectively mimicked the light pattern of the natural cricket. Ed Shenk’s Cricket can also be fished with a very realistic kicking action when desired.
Ed Shenk has been a good friend for many years and he still ties his Crickets and Letort Hoppers for me to sell in my fly shop, Murray’s Fly Shop in Edinburg, Virginia.

New Angler, Part B

Trout Fly Fishing in Eastern and Western Spring Creeks.
Trout Fly Fishing in Eastern and Western Spring Creeks.

“I am new to fly fishing and need advice on rods for freshwater fishing”. This question came in as email and I believe many anglers are at this point.  In  order to answer this in a meaningful way I will discuss the outfits I use in various types of fly fishing and why.  I will break this down into four separate blogs and post one each week:

(A) Small Mountain Streams
(B) Large Eastern Trout Streams and Western Spring Creeks
(C) Large Western Trout Streams
(D) Bass Streams and Lakes

Part (B) Large Eastern Trout Streams and Western Spring Creeks

In answering my beginning anglers question for help on “selecting tackle: let us look at the ideal outfit to use on large trout streams in the East. This could be the Beaverkill in New York, Big Spring Creek in Pennsylvania or The Jackson in Virginia.  I use flies as small as 24 Tricos on 7X on these streams and go up to nymphs as large as size 8.  Accuracy in fly placement as well as delicacy is very important on these streams, as is drag-control on the drifting of the flies. I find that a delicately tipped 9 foot 4 weight rod is perfect for this eastern fishing as well as fishing Western Spring Creeks.  For me personally rods which require lines larger than four do not give me the delicacy I like and rods shorter than 9 feet long rob me of drag control. My favorite rods are the Scott G2 9 foot 4 weight 4 piece and the Scott Radian 9 foot 4 weight 4 piece.

Switch-Hand Casting

Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop Virginia
By knowing the basics of good fly casting one can easily cast with either hand.

I have a good friend who injured his right shoulder badly.  Since he cast with his right hand he was very disappointed that he would loose a season’s fishing while he recovered from surgery. I encouraged him to just switch over and cast with his left hand which he did and he was able to fish the whole season.
In my fly fishing schools I have always had to cast with both hands to help all of my students. If you have not tried this give it a go. You will be pleased how well you do. After all you already know the proper casting technique.

New Angler

Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
Harry Murray is fishing in a small mountain trout stream.

“I am new to fly fishing and need advice on rods for freshwater fishing”. This question came in as email and I believe many anglers are at this point.  In  order to answer this in a meaningful way I will discuss the outfits I use in various types of fly fishing and why.  I will break this down into four separate blogs and post one each week:

(A) Small Mountain Streams
(B) Large Eastern Trout Streams and Western Spring Creeks
(C) Large Western Trout Streams
(D) Bass Streams and Lakes

(A) Small Mountain Trout Streams
These streams require rods that give good accuracy and delicacy from twenty to thirty feet which are short enough to cast under the overhanging tree limbs. In rod design this calls for a rod with a delicate tip and a butt section that is firm enough to turn the tip over. Three weight rods are excellent for this delicate fishing with flies from size 22 up to size 10. Rods which are 6 foot 10 inches long up to 7 1/2 feet are ideal. My favorite is the Murray/Scott Mountain Trout Rod which is 6 foot 10 inches long, 3 piece and 3 weight. This approach will help you select the correct tackle to use on small trout streams all across the country.

The next section of these blogs will be posted next Thursday!

Hiking Comfort

Hiking Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop Virginia
If I am going more than 2 miles into the head of a stream I wear hiking boots and carry my boot foot wading hip boots.

When I hike into the remote hollows to fish mountain trout streams I wear my felt sole boot foot hippers if I am going two miles or less. If I am going to hike in more than two miles I wear hiking shoes and hang my hippers over my shoulders. Then when I get to the area I plan to fish I put my hippers on and hide my hiking shoes behind a tree. When I finish fishing I retrieve my hiking shoes and wear these back to my jeep. I never wear chest-high or waist-high waders when fishing small mountain trout streams because they limit my ability to crawl along the streams.

Caddisflies Tandem Rig

Dry fly with a nymph dropper
A combination dry fly with a nymph dropper is effective in many cases.

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.

Find Good Trout Fishing

Hiking Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop Virginia
Hiking into the back country is the best way I know to find good fishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Dry Fly Refusal

Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
Many trout fly refusals can be overcome by using slightly smaller flies and getting drag free drifts.

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.

Fly Fishing Stream Report

Fly Fishing Stream Report

Harry Murray discusses the best trout fishing in the Blue Ridge Parkway at this time of the year and what flies to use in the first part of this fly fishing podcast episode.
In the second part of this fly fishing podcast episode Harry covers how to catch those large bass that are feeding heavily in the back eddies on the sides of the river.

Products discussed include:
Trout Fishing in the Shenandoah Park Book by Harry Murray
Virginia Blue Ribbon Streams Book by Harry Murray
Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker #4
Murray’s Black Madtom/Sculpin #4

Catching Trout on Heavily Fished Streams

11-nj-4

Catching trout on heavily fished streams can prove to be a monumental challenge for even the most experienced anglers.  On heavily fished trout streams I often catch many large trout by fishing with what I call “Change of Pace Flies”.  These are fly patterns which mimic the natural foods upon which the trout feed but which show them fly patterns they seldom see.  A good example of this is the Murray’s Housefly.  By placing the wings down spent on each side of the flies body I show the trout a food they know well but that produces a different light pattern from what they usually see.  I fish these below shrubs along the banks and below overhanging tree limbs using an upstream dead drift.

The Inchworm is another fly which matches many worm-like creatures that the trout feed heavily upon in addition to the real inchworm.  Since many of these worms fall clumsily onto the stream, I find that presenting my Murray’s Inchworm will roll cast causing it to land on the stream with a splash often brings a strike from a trout which races across the stream to get it.  Dapping this carefully over vegetation along undercut stream bank causes the Inchworm to dangle on the surface like a natural worm hanging from his thread.

The Mosquito is another artificial fly which will fool many wary trout when fished with a dead drift along brackish water on mountain streams and on sloughs in spring creeks.

Frequently these tactics bring me some of my largest trout of the season.

 

Fall and Cooler Temperatures Trout Fishing

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.

Fly Fishing Chironomid Midges

The Mr. Rapidan Soft Hackle is a great fly to use when the trout are taking emerging midges.

Many trout feed actively on the great number of chironomid midges which hatch at this time of the year. If you see a dimple rise they are taking the adults so show them a Mr. Raidan Dry Midge size 20. While you are fly fishing if you see splashy rises they are taking the emerging midges so fish for them with a Mr. Rapidan Olive Soft Hackle size 16 or a Brassie size 18.

Trico Feeders

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.

Trout Pools

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.

Fly Fishing Pop Strike for Brook Trout

Fly Fishing Low Trout Streams

Late Summer/ Fall – The mountain trout streams are low and the large trout are very wary. Many of these trout move into the heads of the pools where they feed along the sides of the incoming riffles on the natural insects which wash down the stream to them. Drag is seldom a problem fly fishing here if you approach the pool from straight below this riffle. Stay below the pool and shoot long casts to the very edge of each side of the incoming riffle in the head of the pool. The straight currents will give you natural drifts with your flies and it is not unusual to catch several trout on each side of the riffle.
Flies which work well for me at this time of the year include terrestrials such as  Murray’s Inchworm 14, Murray’s Housefly 16, Shenk’s Cricket 16 and the Mr. Rapidan Ant 16 & 18.

Deep Trout Fly Fishing – Big Nymphs

Many brown trout begin feeding actively in the large streams in the fall. One of my most productive tactics to catch these trout is to fish a big nymph such as a Bitch Creek Nymph 8 or a Murray’s Olive Road Kill Nymph 8 upstream dead drift right below the heaviest riffles. I started doing this many years ago on the Yellowstone River just upstream of Livingston, Montana and even my guide, Ray Hurley, could not believe how many large trout fell to this tactic.
I wade into the riffle corner 100 feet below the riffle and fly fish these big nymphs upstream so they drift back downstream on a dead drift just like a real nymph would if he were caught by the current. I like to keep my cast shorter than 30 feet because it is imperative to see these strikes on my indicator system. To help see these strikes I use our Bright Butt Leaders and space two Scientific Angler Indicators along them.
I fish these riffles thoroughly by wading as far out in the river as possible and wade upstream as long as the riffle is three feet deep.

Fly Fishing: Sweep A Streamer

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.

Rod Pointer

Being able to see trout on their feeding stations in the stream and fishing to each one individully is one of the most exciting forms of angling. In order to scan the whole pool thoroughly I use my fly rod as a pointer as I sight out over its tip as I sweep it slowly from side to side and up and across the pool.

Trout Stream Report June 27, 2011

Harry’s discussion on the trout stream conditions and expectations from now until the end of the summer. He discusses the natural food present and what flies to use to represent these, how to spot the trout, the best tactics to use and much more…..

Trout Fly Fishing Outlook Podcast for Late Spring 2011

Little Yellow Stonefly on a Shenandoah National Park Brook Trout Stream

Fishing Shrimp and Cress Bugs for Trout

Fly Fishing Shrimp and Cress Bugs for TroutCress Bugs, Shrimp, Trout Fly Fishing

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.

Greedy Trout

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.

Chironomid Midge Trout Fishing

Chironomid Midge Trout FishingListen to Harry Murray as he discusses fly fishing for trout with Chironomid Midges.

Beatis or Midge

Late in the fall and during the winter you may spot trout feeding on the surface on beatis mayflies or chironomid midges. It is important to discern which they are taking so you fish the correct fly. It is easy to tell the difference if you can catch the fly because the midge has no tail and the mayfly does.

Wary Trout

One is tempted to make long casts on small trout streams late in the season when the streams are low and the trout are very wary. This is a good idea, except casting across many mixed currents permits them to pull on the line and leader producing a draging fly action which will be refused by the trout. Often a natural drift can be achieved by allowing your line and leader to fall on boulders or gravel bars which cause it to bridge the mixed currents.

Smallmouth/Trout Tactics


Many of the tactics I use for smallmouth fishing in the rivers in Virginia are very similar to the tactics I use in the large rivers in the Rocky Mountains. My Sculpin Streamers tactics used on the Shenandoah River for bass are the same I use for Browns on the Yellowstone River. The Large Nymph tactics I use for the bass on the New River are the same I use for Rainbows on Gallitin. The Grasshopper Tactics I use for bass on the James River are the same I use for Brown Trout on the Madison River.

Just use your imagination and you’ll see how your knowledge of one type fishing will help the other.

The Brookies are feeding and Mayflies are hatching

Fish Food! Mayflies anyone??
Fish Food! Mayflies anyone??

Great Fly Fishing awaits! The Brook Trout in the Blue Ridge Mountains are feeding like crazy! Expect to find a lot of hatching mayflies: March Browns, Light Cahills, Gray Fox’s, Little Yellow Stoneflies and Caddis Flies are coming off in abundance on many of these streams! If you are waiting for the fishing to get good…. You are about to miss it. A Mr. Rapidan Dry #14 or #16 or #16 Murray’s Little Yellow Stonefly fished on 5x tippet with a drag free drift is unstoppable! Check out the Trout Fishing Report at www.Murraysflyshop.com

Trout Podcast Part XI–Fishing Medium to Large Streams from early September to December

Trout Fly Fishing Podcast Part XI
Trout Fly Fishing Podcast Part XI

Fishing Medium to Large Streams from early September to the end of the year

Fly Fishing Spring Creeks in the Fall Part 2