My client and I had a great day on the water this morning. Fishing from 5:30 AM to 2 PM we had action all day long save the first 45 minutes of the day. He really got the full experience today as we landed Brown, Rainbow and Brook Trout on dries, nymphs, and streamers. We ended up landing 8 trout out of around 25 opportunities. Throughout the day, our hook up rate went way up as we got the "trout set" dialed in.
We fished a smaller sized stream that was running at 59 degrees in the AM and 62 degrees at midday. As the front moved in on us the fishing only picked up. Most fish were on dries, large attractor patterns, small elk hair caddis, and small grey parachute adams were getting the attention of the fish. As for nymphs, a soft hackle hares ear in size 16 was the only fly that the fish wanted. We also took our biggest fish of the day, a 15" wild rainbow on an olive wooly bugger. Unfortunately the fish jumped right out of the net before we could get the hero shot! There were very few rising fish, but they were more than willing to come up to eat. Most fish eating on top were on the smaller side, though we did briefly have a very nice rainbow on the line that ate our foam stonefly. I fished this stretch of stream earlier in the season and it was not holding nearly as many fish. Clearly the cool water drew fish upriver to escape the heat.
I didn't see a ton of bugs in the air, small grey and tan caddis around size 18, a few light cahills, very small baetis, and some very small brown stones were all that I saw or captured.
The difficult part of mid summer trout fishing is finding cool water. As I have mentioned in pervious posts, I do not fish to trout in water 70 degrees or higher. With the warm weather we have had including some readings in the 90's yesterday there is a ton of water that is too hot. I temped the lower Huntington River this morning at 4 AM while on the way to meet my client and it was at 70 degrees. It is important to find higher elevation and high gradient streams to find cool water.
I also included a pic from a drift boat trip last week on the Winooski, when temps were still running at 65 degrees in the am. I had two beginners on the boat and we landed four fall fish and lost three trout at the net along with a few other misses. I imagine it will be the last trout drift boat trip for a little while, though we have another cool down on the way next week I doubt the big rivers will cool enough to fish. The fishing should get better as we get into next week. We have a nice cool down coming with unsettled wet weather which should bring water levels up and temps down. This will open up more streams for trout fishing and I expect all but the large rivers will be fishing pretty well by then, but please don't forget to take temps when you are on water.
This is also a good time to get out and chase Bass, Pike and Pickerel. I run the drift boat or do wade trips for warm water species.
Just returned from a great road trip in Oregon, fly fishing and camping riverside for a week. We fished a variety of waters and climates from desert to mountain streams. In many ways fishing in the Pacific Northwest Mountains is very similar to Vermont fishing in terms of tactics, water types, and difficulty, while the desert tailwaters are much more similar to Montana or Wyoming. We found some great fishing, were challenged in a variety of ways, and had some of the most memorable catches of our careers. I will give you a full recap after I touch on the local conditions.
Right now the Lamoille and Winooski are chocolate milk and totally unfishable after Sunday's storms while today's have not have had as much of an impact other than to hold flows steady. All of the tribs I fish are in good shape right now and should be fishing pretty well, and the brook trout in our small streams will be a good option as well. Dry fly fishing should be decent this week on the tribs with terrestrial's becoming more of an important food source. I like to prospect with a foam hopper or stimulator with a dropper nymph or usually two, off the back, or if I want to focus only on dries, an ant or caddis. Occasionally you will get some trophy fish to eat a big dry off of the top that would not necessarily come up to eat something small. One of my best VT browns of last season was caught on a big foam stimulator in fact. At this time of year I start downsizing my nymphs and fish #18-20 flash back pheasant tails a lot along with the same sized red copper john. I really enjoy catching fish on tiny flies, and am always amazed that a big fish would pass on a bigger nymph in favor of something smaller, but it just goes to show you that they are used to seeing small nymphs this time of year. Caddis Larvae and pupa are also going to be productive. There are still Golden Stones hatching so, especially in higher flows like we have now, a big golden stone will produce fish. They are also heavy and can help get your smaller nymph to where the fish are instead of a using split shot. For the next month until we start to see some Iso's hatching and moving around on the bottom, small will be the way to go.
Back to my road trip. I had an awesome time catching up with my younger brother Chris who has lived in Oregon the past couple of years, but has not been able to explore many of the rivers. We started our trip heading East to the Tailwater section of the Owyhee River in the desert of Eastern Oregon. After taking the backroads all of the way there we finally arrived at the river and spent a while driving the river looking for a campsite with plenty of shade. In the desert this is as important to having a fun trip as the fish are. I had visited this river for only about 1 1/2 hours a few years back as I was driving across country and was impressed by the size and number of fish eating on the surface. I could not wait to get back and show Chris this river. We were not disappointed to say the least. We found great numbers of pretty selective browns. We fished mainly flats at the tail outs of riffles where the big fish were congregating and would eat #22 tricos in the am, hoppers or sized #22 RS2's in the daytime and then caddis at night. By our last evening and then the following morning we had the fish dialed and it became pretty easy.
Our last morning on the Oyhee was one of the most memorable and complete fly fishing experiences I have had. The day began casting to sporadic rises at dawn, then we spent some time nymphing up some fish in the riffles, then stalked the banks sight fishing to big 18-20" browns holding in 6-8" of water. I was able to sneak up to two big fish and tight line nymph them from about 8' away. It was awesome to watch them eat the nymphs in water so shallow their backs were almost out. After that about 15 large browns had podded up at the bottom of the riffle. Chris had already been casting to them with his smallest black fly but could not get a look, I had some smaller #22 Trico's in my box and that was the ticket. We landed a bunch of them until things winded down around 10. We then continued stalking up the banks until we found two big browns holding on either side of a rock in about 10" of water. We snuck up on the two fish, at times crawling through the water to get into position. Chris was up first and chose the fish on the left side of the rock. He made a perfect backhand cast on his first attempt, one of the best casts I have seen landing the fly above the fish and the fly line below it and to the side. The fish ever so slowly came up and took the hopper on the first drift. In a few minutes we had a 18-19" brown in the net. Next it was my turn, and we got the camera out to try to get it on video. I made one bad cast but did not spook the fish. My second was perfect and again the 17-18" fish slowly came up and took the hopper, we got the take, fight and release all on video. I am going to get it up on instagram when I get a chance to edit the footage. It was at that moment we decided we would not get any better at this river, and may as well end it on a super high note, though we could not resist taking some casts at the fish rising just above and quickly each landed one more before leaving. That morning I caught three of my most memorable fish ever as did Chris. It was just an awesome morning that had everything a fly fisherman could want. The only downer was that I lost my net, which would come back to haunt me the next morning...
Arriving at Bend, we were determined to conquer the famous Deschutes River. We had fished the lower river two years ago for a few hours and did not catch a trout, and that night a freak storm came through and blew it out for days after we left. This time we were determined to catch some famous "Redsides" as they call the native strain of rainbows that live in the river. These fish have a reputation for being some of the hardest fighting trout you will find. We fished the upper river in the AM which was in the mountains and forests. It was much like a Vermont stream and I knew just how to attack it. I tight line nymphed about 5 fish, one a large rainbow I lost because of not having my net and another big brown that I landed while straddling two logs, though I had no way of getting a pic without a net. It was a really nice fish. The fish in this upper stretch of river were all shaped like footballs and seemed in great shape. I think a lot of fish had dropped back into the lake because of the extreme heat the week before though the water temp was 63 when we were there. I want to go back in the spring or fall sometime.
After getting our fill up high we headed to the more famous Lower Deschutes River. An 80 mile tailwater that is a true beast of a trout and steelhead river. Flowing at around 5000 CFS, wading is not real easy. We spent our first evening walking the banks and coving a ton of water and only ending up with around 4 dink rainbows and saw no rising fish. We were feeling like the lower river was going to get the best of us again. Over a few beers that night Chris and I contemplated heading back to the upper river for our last day. I think for a while we had made a decision to leave, but just as we were heading into the tent I said there is no way this river is going to beat us. Enough said, we were back on the river the next morning early. My strategy was different that day. No more looking for fish and skipping from spot to spot. I found the most likely looking water from the previous night and not knowing much of anything about the river and not seeing much for insects, I drifted fly after fly through the run. I just kept telling myself that a trout is a trout and they are here. After 2 hours nothing. Finally I went to my desperation fly, a #16 pink sow bug with an orange bead, which I have tied on when things have been slow for salmon, steelhead and trout. Chris had just come back up the river, and was right behind me as I made my first drift. BOOM, fish on!! I ended up losing it at the net, just a 12" redside, but man were we pumped. Second drift, BOOM, fish on and it comes screaming out of the water. An incredibly hard fighting redside of around 14-15" in the net. We couldn't have been more pumped. Then on my fifth drift, BOOM, another bigger redside rockets out of the water three times in a row, then makes a long run downstream. Four more leaps and a few more runs and we net a fat 17" fish, again they were all the shape of a football. Chris was up next and on his maybe 10th cast lands his first redside of around 14". We caught some more throughout the rest of the morning, but those first fish will be remembered forever. It was just amazing how gratifying it was to get these fish dialed in and in the net after so many hours over a couple trips. We couldn't have asked for a better way to end our road trip. Maybe I will start fishing the sow bug a little more from now on, but then again its nice knowing its there for me when things get tough.
Heat and hot weather have arrived, and with that means potentially lethal temps for trout, so please take river temps, and if over 69 degrees head to a smaller river. I guided a father and son who were staying at Jay Peak this morning, they were beginners not only to fly fishing, but fishing of any kind. After some casting instruction we hit the Lamoille. Water temps were 67 degrees at 6:15 AM. We missed two fish on the main stem, one on an olive bugger and one on a golden stone nymph. There was not much happening on the river. I saw a few Light Cahill's and a couple small tan caddis and a single yellow sally. After around an hour and a half I took another temp as the air temp was rising rapidly, and found that my digital stream thermometer was broken, giving me readings between 76 and 81. Not being sure if the water was approaching 70 degrees, the temp at which catching and releasing a trout can be fatal to the fish, I decided to move up to the lower stretch of a mid sized trib where the water was definitely cooler. We dropped in and as soon as we started fishing two guys came around the corner fly fishing towards us. They dropped quickly right to our area, and rather than fish with them, we moved on. It was a bit of a tricky situation in term of fishing etiquette, as when we dropped in there were no cars, nor people in sight, but they clearly had fished from somewhere up above and were on the river sooner. With the light amount of fishing pressure on the rivers, I just decided it was better to move on and fish alone. Unfortunately we lost a bit of time, but in our next spot we found the fish much more willing to eat a fly, and in short order hooked 5 rainbows on a golden stone, bringing one to the net before we had to hit the road. There were a ton of Golden Stone shucks on the rocks, something I did not see on the Lamoille.
This evening we have some T-storms coming through the area today, with a bit cooler temps behind the front. The rain should be a good thing to cool the rivers, and unless there is a huge localized downpour, I would expect all rivers to remain at fishable levels, but again, check those temps before fishing.
The still water Hex hatch has been really strong when conditions are right. Thursday through Saturday I was at our families camp up north and the fishing was great on Thursday and Friday night. As you can see in the photo gallery, we landed some big Rainbows and Browns. We hit the water around 7:30 and initially fished Hex nymphs on a sink tip line. Letting the fly sink and slowly stripping it back in produced a few fish before the bugs really started emerging in any numbers, or the fish began eating on top. Around 8:30 the fish were keying in on duns and with so many flies on the water, you could accurately predict which direction the fish were moving. The lower than normal surface temp on the pond also helped, as the fish were staying at the surface. Fish were confidently eating our flies when we could get them within range. My wife landed her largest ever VT Trout right at dark, and it was quite a struggle to get it in the net with no light. Saturday was a different story, as some rain and wind really killed the hatch and there were only a few fish eating emergers and mostly ignoring the duns. We had one break us off and my uncle missed a couple. That is usually how the hex hatch goes, hit or a big miss, but when you hit it right, it's so fun.
I'll be in Oregon and Idaho on a fly fishing road trip with my brother for a week. Hopefully we will get into some good fishing, though they have had a huge heat wave with temps in the 100's. Ill get a report up on my trip when I return.
Good luck on the water!
It looks like we have an awesome stretch of weather for the long weekend. We definitely deserve it at this point. Fishing should be great on mid sized and small streams by tomorrow and the big rivers may be decent by the end of the weekend. Water temps should be prime as we have highs forecast in the upper 70's and lows in the 40's and 50's which is perfect. Tactics and hatches are the same as my previous report, but for me the weekend of the 4th is all about the Hex hatch!
I'll be up north this weekend on a trout pond casting huge mayflies to large rainbows and browns. Please give me a call if you would like to get out for an evening to fish this hatch from my drift boat. This is by far the most anticipated hatch of the season for many fishermen, and these huge mayflies really bring all the fish to the surface, including the biggest ones in the pond!
Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers