Fishing this past week began slow and ramped up dramatically with this record breaking heat. Temps on the big rivers went from the upper 40's to the low 60's as of noon today. The fish and bugs have responded and today the fishing was good to great.
I started the week floating a stretch of river I had not been on in a couple of years in preparation for a guide trip this weekend. Water temp was 49 and fishing was slow as expected, though we boated 8 trout and 1 bass. The big brown above was one of the 8, and we lost another as big. This big brown took a crayfish streamer pattern, and streamers accounted for about half of our fish with nymphs accounting for the other half. Fish were holding deep and I took a few out of a pool probably 8-10 feet deep right on the bottom. We did have a decent Hendrickson hatch for about an hour that got the fish more active. As the week progressed things really changed with the increasing water temps. I was able to get out with my daughter one evening and we had trout keying into #14 dark and light hares ears. The next evening I hit a smaller stream with my wife and got into some brook trout. This time though, they wanted the larger attractor flies. Moral of the story is that you need to make sure you don't get stuck fishing what you think the fish should want, and fish what they are eating. While you will see a huge variety of bugs hatching right now, the fish may or may not be keyed into them.
This morning I guided a good angler who recently moved to VT from California. We worked on his nymphing game as most of his fishing had been done on dry flies out west (lucky guy). Hitting a mid sized stream, It didn't take long to hook a fish on a dark hares ear pattern, but after a few more drifts without an eat, I tried some attractor flies and caddis imitations as there were 4 species of Mayflies, Hendricksons, Quill Gordons, Blue Quills, and a small Baetis or something of that nature coming off. On top of that were tan caddis and dark caddis as well as some brown stones. Thats a lot of options! After coming up short on the caddis and attractor flies we went back to mayfly imitations in sizes 14 and 16, and as his drifts improved so too did our hook up rates. For a while it was kind of silly as we were hooking mostly stocked fish almost every cast with a few wild rainbows in the mix. I'd say we landed 15 and lost a fair amount more. I eventually decided to move on from these fish and we hit the big river, looking for more wild fish and a better chance at a larger rainbow or brown. The water was on the high side for wading, but we managed a handful of rainbows both wild and stocked here as well. The difference was that the fish in the big river and higher flows wanted bigger stoneflies and attractor patterns. We also hit a flat that tends to be be a good area for dry fly fishing, but didn't convince and fish to eat.
The fishing should remain very good throughout the extended forecast. The water temps will be in the 50's after the front moves through tonight and there will be plenty of willing fish. Keep and eye on the water levels when deciding where to fish, as the front moving through now has the potential to drop a lot a rain quickly and blow out a stream. I am hoping that the big rivers don't come up too much as I will be guiding from the drift boat saturday. I am fairly booked from now through next weekend, but may be able to get a you on the water for a half day later in the week and maybe sunday morning. Please feel free to give me a shout and we can hopefully get out if not this week then the next. This is a great time to get on the drift boat and fish areas that are not accessible by wading.
Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers