94 Degrees here today in Northern VT, breaking the record for the warmest day ever recorded in May. Not the records I want to be setting! It's pretty wild that my last report includes a picture of my drift boat covered in 2" of snow. I will be laying off of the trout until the back half of the weekend when we have highs forecast in the upper 50's. I can guarantee that the big rivers are topping 70 degrees this week and possibly some smaller sized streams as well. You will want to have your stream thermometer with you and please, if you are catch and release fishing, move to cooler water if you temp 69 or higher. We got about a week of very good trout fishing and I expect it to be great after the weather cools back down.
I have also included a link to a new quick you tube video that I created about Euro Nymphing tight to structure. I decided to make this little video after having a productive morning catching rainbows, but noticing that most all of them were tucked directly under or behind rocks instead of more traditional lies in the slower steady current downstream of boulders. Check it out for some more detailed tips and to see some footage of hooking fish in the soft water tight to mid stream boulders.
As you can see from the pictures above, clients and myself have caught a large variety of fish recently with a ton of different methods. Trout have been taking dries, nymphs, small streamers and soft hackles. Let the fish decide what they want to eat and go with it, but keep in mind it can change rapidly. Many times nymphing will be the best bet but this is not always the case and if you are not prepared to adapt you may find your self having a frustrating day. I had a beautiful evening on the big water swinging soft hackles in a wide riffle. Fish were chasing caddis and I was seeing them jump into the air for both the real thing and my green soft hackles swung just under the surface. If I am going to be fishing with only one rod, Ill usually opt for a euro nymphing rod with a 10 or 15 pound leader that I can nymph, dry dropper, swing wet flies and streamers and even throw a dry, but if I am headed down to the river for the evening hatch, then a 4 wt with floating line is what I have been opting for. Most times out I am bringing both with me however.
Our early hatches are over and we have been seeing March Browns, Sulphurs, Cahills, Yellow sallies, and lots of caddis both tan and dark, Its changing fast out there so be prepared for everything really.
On the Bass and Pike front things have been good. Fish are in shallow bays related to structure, but you can find fish everywhere right now. I've spotted some bass on beds. The best part is that quality bass have been eating top water flies pretty readily. There is not much more fun than that to me. It will be interesting what the record breaking heat wave will do to the bite and spawning stages of the bass. Water temps obviously rose rapidly the last few days. I'll be back on the boat soon to find out.
The Governor just gave the green light to outdoor recreation businesses to re open so that's certainly good news. We've had snow the past three days here in Northern VT and while spring has been on hold most of the past month, things will be improving beginning tomorrow. So too will the fishing and I think by the weekend or at least next week, things should be fishing well.
We have been out quite a bit since last report and actually there is quite a bit of new info to cover. Generally the fishing has been slow with water temps in the 40's. I have yet to personally take a river temp over 46. There have been a few flurries of activity here and there thanks to hendricksons coming off. Guide Andy got into a lot of wild rainbows that had moved into a riffle for about an hour last week and reported seeing lots of fish rise. Once the hatch waned it slowed back down to almost nothing. The same was true for Guide Evan who caught his personal best brown trout a week and a half ago as well as a few other decent browns, but when he moved to a different stream it was dead. Such has been the case for a few weeks. If you happen to be on the river during or just prior to a hatch usually midday to early afternoon, then you've lucked out. The three of us got out on the drift boat and scouted a new stretch of water last week on a cold windy raw day. The only fish landed was the beauty pictured above, though we lost one other nice fish and had 3-4 more bites, all on streamers. We all agreed we need to float this stretch again when the fishing becomes more consistent to see what we really have on that particular piece of water before we bring clients there. On that afternoon we saw some Hendricksons hatch and a few BWO's but not in numbers enough to get the fish to eat nymphs.
During non hatch times small streamers have out produced nymphs on a pretty consistent basis. Some days streamers have produced all the action and nymphs have been totally ignored. I've been fishing streamers both on a tight line set up tied on jig hooks and with a conventional sink tip line. If I had to choose I'd pick the conventional line set up to fish streamers because you can cast so much farther and cover more water, but the tight line rig gives you more versatility if you want to nymph as well. Most fish have been in slower water and back eddies, but have been willing to chase a streamer. I've only caught one fish on a dead drifted streamer and that was out of a back eddy this evening. We have noticed that when the water has been stained, we have moved some fish from relatively shallow featureless river areas that you would not typically even bother to fish. We found about 3-4 fish on a sandy slow moving flat one afternoon about 2-3 deep. This is a good lesson to cover all the water not just prime areas, especially when the water is high or stained.
I'll be toting my dry fly/ dry dropper rod around from now on since there will be dry fly opportunities here and there from here on out. I also have a few dry fly patterns I want to test thoroughly this spring which I am hoping will find a permanent spot in the box. As the water warms up into the 50's expect to find fish feeding more regularly throughout the day and the fishing to become much more consistent. I expect nymphs to become the primary producer of fish due to the increased number of bugs available for the fish to eat. You'll need to be ready with just about everything in the next few weeks. Here in VT we don't have many very heavy hatches, but we do have a huge variety of bug species so it can be a little tricky figuring out what the fish want to eat sometimes in the spring. I will generally start with a caddis and a mayfly pattern and keep switching bugs until I get things dialed in or run out of time! Remember to swing your flies at the end of the drift. I actually saw two fish follow my swung nymphs to the surface last week only to turn off at the surface. They will be committing soon!
Stocking appears to be about half done so many of our local rivers have a bunch of new inferior trout competing with our wild ones. Within the next couple of weeks that should be complete. I don't have anything against some stocking, but I do believe that some rivers get too many stocked fish or shouldn't be stocked all together due to healthy numbers of wild fish. I wouldn't be surprised to see some hold over stocked trout either.
Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers