Its been a bit of a roller coaster on the local rivers. Trout fishing has gone from great, to way too warm to fish, and back a few times over the past few weeks. Right now our rivers are terribly low and warm. We need rain in the worst way, and Im hoping tomorrow we get it. Trout fishing should be confined to small mountain streams and bottom release tailwaters that remain cold. Streams have been extremely spooky, stealth is key.
The weather looks to cool a little along with the rain and may open up some more trout fishing opportunities on bigger rivers this week but you have to take temps and be prepared to move if it is above 69 degrees.
The other great option to keep in mind is the Hex hatch on local trout and bass ponds. The pond I fish during the hex hatch has large rainbows and browns that are willing to eat on the surface. The nice thing about the pond I fish is that water temps are not really an issue. This time of year the top 2' of the pond is warm, but below that it remains cool. The trout simply swim and live in the cold water then move up a few feet to eat one or two flies off the surface and then move right back down.
The hex hatch is the reason I began fly fishing. There is nothing like floating on a glass calm warm summer night and throwing #8-10 dry flies. It is amazing just to watch the rises around you and the anticipation of when your fly will get eaten.
That said, the hex hatch can be fickle. The conditions I described above are ideal, and if you are not fortunate to hit them the hatch and rises are sporadic at best. I usually don't hit the water until around 7 or so and never really before 6. You can throw Hex nymphs, small brown buggers, or hornbergs on sink tips prior to the duns hatching if you want to get out early. Once the fish start rising either pick a fish working within casting distance, or if you suddenly see a rise try to immediately cover it before the fish goes back down to the cooler water. Quickly covering a rise is one of the most effective ways to catch fish on the top. However, if there are only a few rises, your best bet is to throw your dry near other hex flies on the water. They linger on the surface for a while and eventually a fish will find them and hopefully your fly before it goes back down. Don't cast a lot, just leave your fly on the water and wait.
If you would like to get out in the next week and fish the hex hatch let me know.
On to the bass fishing and Ditch Pickle Classic. My partner and I look forward to this weekend every year, along with 150 other fly fishermen. After missing the podium in a tie breaker last year, we would be happy with no less this year. We had huge plans to pre fish a ton and really get dialed in. Well between us both having new babies, and my partner Mike getting a promotion and having to travel for training the entire week last week, pre fishing just didn't happen. To make matters worse, our plans were derailed by low water, and we could not get to the area of the lake we planned on fishing first. To say the least we needed to improvise and find our fish. With super bright sun, we fished dark flies with success. Much of the first day was spent sight fishing to largemouth bass in shallow water. We found plenty of willing largemouth's in 1-6 feet of water, but 4.5 feet was the magic number. Funny enough even 6" deeper or shallower resulted in much slower fishing. After nearly filling our bags with 1,2,and 3 point fish we went hunting for big smallies for the remainder of the tournament. We landed 2 over 19" and lost more. Smallmouth were found from 18" to 13' of water with most between 3 and 9 feet. Black was the ticket for smallmouth as well and a slow retrieve on intermediate line was most effective. The bass seemed to slightly prefer to eat the fly as it fluttered a couple feet under the surface. The three largest bass we had on however took a popper in 18" of water, a streamer 10' deep on sinking line, and a streamer a foot under the surface. Moral of the story was the pattern and color seemed to be the key, but again the intermediate line was most consistent.
We ended up medalingl and finished 3rd overall. We were lucky enough to each win a new 8 wt fly rod.
Fishing overall was good and bass fishing is a great option in this warm weather. I would be happy to take anyone out either on the drift boat or to wade the big rivers for bass. If you have not caught a smallmouth on the fly rod you are missing out. These fish pull hard and just don't give up. Fooling one on a top water fly is one of my favorite things in VT fly fishing.
This stretch of cool rainy weather we are experiencing is as good as it gets as far as trout fishing goes. It was a perfect day to get out for Free Fishing Day, though there was no one else on the river. River temps are perfect in the upper 50's and low 60's. The trout are extremely happy after the abnormally high temps we experienced last week, the stocked fish are spread out throughout the rivers and fish are eating dries!
I had not guided in a little bit as I was fishing in the US National Fly Fishing Championships in Lake Placid, NY. It was an awesome experience and I will make a full post about the tourney soon. There is too much to talk about right now regarding conditions.
I took Greg out Thursday for a guided trip on the big rivers, it was a raw damp and windy day and the water was off color. I hit a spot first thing in the morning that I never guide at but I usually can find rising fish in a long deep flat and had a hunch there would be plenty of activity there. As we walked up onto the flat from below sure enough we could see fish working the surface. We casted at two fish we could reach at the tail out of the run but did not hook any so we moved to the top and hooked two subsurface. The river had changed a little since last year and the majority of fish were not holding as close to where we could wade. The rises only lasted about 30 minutes. After working that area we went down river to some riffles and hook a good many rainbows on worms, soft hackle PT's and Caddis Larvae. The fish switched up from caddis to soft hackles right at the end of the trip when some small #18 grey mayflies with brown wing began hatching. I was not able to identify them in the few minutes they began hatching before we left. Greg actually offered to call it quits but I tied on the soft hackle and he landed a good rainbow on his first drift which was also his last. A great way to end the trip.
On Saturday was Free Fishing Day in Vermont. I had the inlaws in town, but convinced my sister in law and wife to fish being that she did not have to pay for a license. I had the baby on my back. Conditions were right to really get into fish, and we did. Getting on the water at around 4 we saw a lot of different bug hatching. I saw #16 tan caddis, #20 BWO's in good numbers, March browns, #18 sulphurs, and #14-16 Pale evening duns, and even a spring isonichia of about a size 10. I don't see that often at all, the majority hatch in the early fall. Apparently it is a deferent species of Iso. With all the activity the question was where to start. My wife loves dry fly fishing so she started with a tan caddis and did not move a fish, my sister in law, new to fly fishing, had on a squirmy wormy, and I had on nymphs. The worm was the first to get eaten on the swing, then I took a fish on a golden stone. There after the fish stopped eating near the bottom and began looking up. Being that I had the baby on my back and did not have a pack I didn't have the luxury of switching flies often so had to play around with different presentations and casts which turned out to be pretty fun and challenging. I only had my tight line rod, so I began swinging my flies down and across and took a number of rainbows. Meanwhile my wife threw on a small yellow stimulator and began hooking fish as well. We had doubles twice which was pretty fun. To end the night I made my way over to the pack and threw on a march brown dry and immediately had five takes. The largest wild rainbow of the day ate that dry confidently.
As you can see the fishing is good right now. I have some openings this week, and may have an opening saturday. Things will warm toward the end of the week and slow things down a little but it should still be good. We will have to start watching water temps again next week in the afternoons.
The other thing to take from this report is the variety of ways to catch a fish and more importantly the benefits of being flexible and letting the fish tell you what and how to fish.
Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers