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.
Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers