Heat Wave on the Way
Sorry its been a while since I updated the report. Things have been crazy for me here between selling my house and moving out, on top of guiding and managing trips for my guide Andy. I just haven't had an hour to write up a report and get pics uploaded from my camera, cell phone, and pics sent to me from clients phones and cams.
The big news is the Heat Wave on the way for the holiday week. We are talking some seriously hot weather for at least a week and truthfully has me a little worried about the welfare of our trout. Thankfully we got a good soaking rain that cooled the rivers off and raised the levels going into the warms stretch. I was on the water early this morning with a client on a mid sized stream and it was up and bit and a little off color to start. Water temp as 58 to begin the day, water was warming, dropping and clearing as we fished and about 62 when we got off. The fish were not crazy active but we pick away at them and landed a fair amount. My angler got the grand slam landing wild Brookie, rainbow and brown on this stretch of river. This will be a distant memory by the evening unfortunately. I really hope that we get some thunderstorms next week as eel to help cool and elevate the riversl. These long stretches of warm low water are what really stress the trout. Though we got rain its not going to stop most rivers from warming much above 70 degrees for the weekend and unless you get out Friday morning like I am with a client, or know a river or stream that stays cool all summer long, your best bet is to lay off the trout on our freestone streams. Its a good weekend to take a road trip to a regional tailwater either to the north or to the south. We know a handful of streams and rivers that stay cool all summer so there are some options if you'd like to get out next week with us. For trout, you could also hit a pond for the hex hatch which is peaking right now, as long as it has some depth where the fish can get to cool water. The trout pond we have a camp on has a great hex hatch and even during the warmest years the water is cold 2-4' below the surface this time of year.
I'd also recommend throwing top water for Largemouth bass on lakes and ponds as this warm weather may drive the smallmouth down deep, or fishing the lower stretches of the big rivers for smallmouth.
Speaking of Bass, last weekend was the Annual Ditch Pickle Classic fly fishing tournament for bass on Lake Champlain. We had a great time, drank a lot of beers, but came up just a bit short of our goal of winning the comp. There were about 130 anglers this year and e ended up in Third. Its our third year in a row on the podium but have yet to take the top spot. Really this was our year to win it, and had the fish on to do so but three good ones swam away before the got to the net. We are looking forward to next years tourney. Congrats to the winners and my teammate Mike Woulf on his 5th place individual, his best individual finish thus far. We fished mostly for small mouth and found most fish near drops offs in 3-7 feet of water using intermediate lines. Things were inconsistent to say the least as different rain storms and fronts moved though. We would have long stretches of nothing and then hit 3 or 4 fish quickly. Our cut off to get our score cards in is 11 on sunday and as luck would have it we started to get into bass at about 10:58. I landed a decent one then and then mike lost a real good one at the boat. Suddenly there were nice bass chasing our flies almost every cast and we had to leave. That was pretty exciting but kind of a bummer, cause we could have improved our score for sure.
We have some openings next week as well as the week after. Ill be in Idaho and Wyoming on vacation next week and flshing in a Fly Fishing Team USA Regional in Idaho July 12-14, but Andy will be available to guide the next two weeks so feel free to get in touch with me to schedule a trout or bass trip on the fly.
I hope everyone has been out enjoying the weather and getting in on the great fishing the past week has had to offer. Between myself and two Guides Andy and Evan, there have been trips out almost everyday and am booked through fathers day weekend, though Evan has an opening next Thursday. Conditions are great right now on the big rivers but getting low and spooky on the mid sized streams. We really could use the rain as we are well below seasonal averages and do not want to be in a drought going into the heat of the summer. I did have one slower day guiding on Monday morning after the front came though and cooled things way off. We caught 4 or 5 fish, and missed at least as many, but in runs I'd expect 3 fish in we would get 1. Just about every other outing has resulted in good numbers and fairly easy fishing. That should continue this weekend into the beginning of next week at least. River temps on the big rivers this afternoon were a perfect 60 degrees, but be ready to take temps again next week. Hopefully your thermometers got wet at the end of last week when it got hot.
While we have gotten some nice fish, as is usual this time of year the smaller fish really start to show up. For instance you could fish through a stretch of river that is known to have wild trout in May and maybe hook a few nice fish and a few mid sized fish and then go hit that same stretch today and catch three time as many fish with a lot of them being 5-10". It seems to be like this every year. This was the case wednesday night on a smaller river, and while we managed 4 nice fish, we caught as many or more fish under 7'. Things were spooky as I mentioned earlier, and if you fished a run or pool second it was tough to get eats, usually I can pick up pretty good numbers of fish after its been fished but I only managed to lose one and miss a couple. Fish have been spread out between deep pools, rapids, and skinny riffles, and near any structure both on the big and smaller rivers. We have gotten a lot of fish out of skinny and fast water recently. One tactic that worked for me the other night while nymphing some marginal water was to downsize my tippet to 7x and fish a single fly. The section of small stream I fished was a fast riffle that was about 6" deep and no real structure but for the slight outside bend that had about 12" of depth in about an 18" wide slot along a rock wall. Going with one fly and presenting my nymph upstream of me, I was able to get a precise cast into the slot and took three wild rainbows of 12", 11", and 6" out of that slot. Had I been fishing two flies my accuracy would have been diminished and the two flies may have been in different current speeds resulting in an unnatural drift that may not have been eaten, especially if both flies were weighted.
We have also had some good opportunities on dry flies. A few trips out have landed good numbers of fish on mainly caddis imitations. Both in pocket water during the day and flatter water in the evening. On top of dry fly fishing, swinging wet flies is very productive right now at all times of the day. Generally I like a soft hackle mayfly imitation and a caddis pupa imitation like a lafontaine's sparkle pupa.
Last friday I saw the first two golden stonefly shucks to add to the potpourri of what is hatching right now. You can read the list in my last report.
The past weekend I got down to the Catskills with fellow Guide Andy and we met up with our long time high school friend Adam for the weekend floating the Delaware River system. This was a last minute trip planned a week ago. I was supposed to be fishing in the US National Fly Fishing Championships in Bend, OR that weekend but because of a variety of problems and events over the past few months I had to drop out. While we had a great trip, we didn't love it down there. We stayed a great cabin on the East Branch of the Delaware, with riverside access, and had we stayed and fished from camp probably would have caught more fish than floating. Ill preface this story with the fact that I have fished just about every western state, eastern state, Alaska, Canada etc and not had anywhere near the issues I had on the Delaware. The big problem was the absolutely insane number of fishermen and drift boats on those rivers, and the fact that many, though not all, said fishermen were assholes. In fact we were swore at by fishermen, had a boulder sized rock thrown from the bushes at us by other fishermen, and to top it off some piece of crap stole the pin from my trailer hitch and my trailer came off the while towing the drift boat. Luckily I had a backup trailer hitch so grabbed that pin and kept going and the trailer didn't do any damage to my truck or get damaged itself. I guess its too close to NYC or something but 75% of anglers wouldn't say hi or clearly acted pissed you were there. There were times we could see 7 drift boats in sight while floating and places there were 20 or 30 anglers wading. Being that the wading anglers have the right of way we were constantly maneuvering around behind them and most every good piece of water we didn't fish because its bad etiquette to fish a wading anglers water. Well, a lesson learned, as I said our cabin was great and Ryan Fifield of Fifield Outfitters was a big help. If I go back it will not be on a weekend, and if the flows are low like they were I will just wade fish. There are some big fish in those rivers for sure so I'll be back again.
Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers