The Rain Has Finally Come
The rain that we have desperately needed has finally arrived! Two weeks ago I predicted that cooler and wetter weather could be on the way, it surely has. 3" of rain fell here on the weekend, and then another 1.5" so far this week! Northern VT has been under moderate drought dating back 13 months, and while a week or two of wet weather will not end it, it will do wonders for our local fish, and water table. We actually had to re schedule two trips earlier this week for the end of this week due to high water, not something we have had to do at all this year prior . I think those clients will be in for a treat. Thanks to increased flows and cool water temps we should be able to branch out and have a lot more options for finding trout.
I have not been out on many of our rivers too much lately due to low warm water but have managed to find some good windows of fishing on some of our freestone streams for myself and clients on top of a few of our stand by's that stay cool all summer long. I got out last night, just before the storm blew everything out, scouting for the trip I was supposed to be guiding today. I found stocked browns both this years and hold overs from last year, as well as some wild brook trout. Fish were willing to eat both a nymph and a dry fly. This has been the case most of the summer. We hit a nice sulphur hatch recently that had quite a few wild rainbows looking up, and then just at dark there was a great sulphur spinner fall that produced a very well built rainbow on a yellow spinner mayfly pattern.
When fishing high water, I usually start with the same flies that I fish in low water. Many people automatically go to big bright flies and attractor nymphs, which work well at times, but I tend to start with what the fish have been already eating, and if I am not getting the bites on those flies, I'll then try bigger brighter flies, worms, jig streamers etc. You can also fish one bigger brighter pattern and one natural pattern together and let the fish tell you what they want. Don't forget the dry flies either! top patterns have been, sulphurs #16-20, ants #12-16, golden stoneflies, tan caddis #12-18.
Just because its rainy this week and cooler doesn't mean it will last forever, it's still July after all. We will surely see more prolonged periods of 70+ degree water, so keep your stream thermometers ready. In fact, when I began fishing yesterday, my plan was to fish down low on the river and was surprised to find a 70 degree reading. I simply got back in the truck and drive about 8-10 miles up river where I got a nice reading of 67 to start the afternoon. I have also been taking fewer trout pictures and most of the ones I have taken have been of the fish in the water, in order to minimize stress to the fish. For now take advantage of the higher flows and cooler weather. The fish will be happy and should continue to feed very well.
I have had a LOT of people attempting to schedule trips last minute, I could have probably scheduled 8 groups for the past weekend just from Wednesday to Saturday. Its worth a try, but we generally are either booked, or if nothing is booked for a weekend have made some sort of plan on our own. It would be wise to plan ahead at least a few weeks.
I truly apologize for the lack of reports. I know many of you look to these for guidance before heading out fishing. We have had a very busy spring guiding season, combined with a trip to the Truckee River in CA, and everything else involved with keeping this guiding business going, and I haven't had time to write a report last month.
The roller coaster that characterized spring is continuing into summer. We had a heat wave to start this week and now will have a prolonged stretch of cool and wet weather. Thankfully things seem to be trending wetter which is so very needed up here, though the rivers have been so low you cannot tell from the flows that its been raining recently. We need this wet weather to continue. The fishing should bee good over the July 4 weekend.
One the days that it is cooler, and subsequently the river temps drop, the fishing has been pretty good. We have had a few nice windows to get onto the big rivers, and we have capitalized on those with good fishing and quality fish. The small and mid sized streams have been ok, but running cooler. (most rivers are not fishable after days of 90's). The water is so low that they can really be tough on some days, but the next might fish very well. If you can get out after a rain then go for it, because you might have a stellar day.
Hatches the entire year have been strong, as strong as I have ever seen. There have been lots of caddis, sulfurs and cahills, among many other mayflies, and tons of stoneflies out there, though terrestrials have been the best for me as far as dry flies go lately. The dry fly fishing has been decent, I think due to the lower flows. I have been playing around with a 18-20' dry fly leader that really gives a nice delicate presentation to spooky trout.
There have been too many highlights to cover all the specific scenarios we have encountered, but the one that struck me recently was just how resilient our wild trout are. We have seen good numbers of wild fish most everywhere we have gone save a few stretches on the big rivers where the habitat is degraded due to poor farming practices. Guide Andy was taking two beginner anglers out for Bass and Fallfish on the lower stretch of the Winooski River recently. I had guided this stretch two weeks prior during a heat wave and temped it at 81. The day Andy was there the temps had dropped into the mid 60's. To his complete surprise, his client landed a 17-18" wild brown on a pink hopper and then a 13-14" wild rainbow on the same fly. We honestly didn't think wild trout could survive down this low on the river. It was quite a shock but amazing to see how there trout are able to live in conditions that biologist would tell you are not survivable.
lastly, my teammate Mike Woulf and I are finally Ditch Pickle Classic champions, having won the team division on Lake Champlain last weekend. I was also the individual tournament champion and won $1140 for catching the biggest bass of the tournament, which Mike and I split. We have been trying to win this tourney for years with lots of 2nd and 3rd place finishes.
I have some openings this summer. Please reach out if you'd like to fish!
Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers