Fall is Just About Here
The last few weeks continued to be a roller coaster with below seasonal temps and rain interspersed with hot muggy weather and increased river temps. I had some good trips and one tough one in low water. River flows have been up and down as well. Fishing has been good when we have had cool weather and obviously tougher when it has gotten hot and low. It looks like that may change for the next week or so as we have a period of cool dry weather forecast with highs in the upper 60's and low 70's and lows in the 40's and 50's. This should bring some very good fishing both with dry flies and nymphs. River levels will drop but should remain cool everywhere, but please don't forget to take temps.
Iso's began slowly hatching a few weeks ago when I saw a shuck on a rock and many smaller iso nymphs on overturned stones. We should hit the hatch perfect in the next few weeks. In my last report I went over how to fish this hatch so you may want to scroll down and find that.
I've also heard reports of flying ants and people taking fish on ant patterns recently so have some ready to go. I began fishing with two rods again. One with a tight line nymph set up and the other with a dry fly, that I also will fish as a dry dropper when things warrant. I've still had the most dry fly fish on smaller stimulators. Sunday I was on the river early and caught most fish on dark nymphs (think ISO nymphs). I saw a single rise on a rip rap bank and my first cast with the stimulator I hooked a big rainbow. Unfortunately he came unbuttoned but let me know exactly how big he was when twice he jumped 3-4 feet out of the water after he came unhooked! I also caught some nicely colored browns who clearly had put on their fall spawning colors.
I had a trip the day before I left for QC that went well and fish were really keyed into golden stonefly nymphs. I had not had a ton of fish keying into them earlier this year, but that day they were. We fished up through a fast riffle and missed a few fish. Put on a golden stone and fished back down where we and already fished and I think the client landed 6 in short order. There are still a ton of golden shucks on the rocks so don't abandon them.
I also checked on a salmon river I frequently guide on Saturday. After being cool for two previous days I was not worried about water temps but took a temp anyway before fishing. 72 degrees, I am used to freestone streams draining out of the green mountains, but this river drains another lake and the surface temp of the lake was keeping the river temps up there. I left without fishing, but unfortunately saw 5 anglers all fishing one pool, their license plates were NH and MA.
I should at least go over my trip to Gaspe Penninsula in QC. Unfortunately they were in the midst of a severe drought up there and it hadn't rained in two months. As I got closer I began noticing the lawns and fields were brown and every river I drove over looked like a trickle. I was already concerned the fishing would be tough way before I got there and I was right. I only fished one day, the last I was there, as I waited for rain that never came. I was told at the ZEC no one was catching fish. I fished the York River which was low and gin clear. I spent half the day looking for fish and then went back with the whole family. I fished the tailout of a pool with 11 salmon looking between 10 and 20 lbs each. It didn't help that my daughter was dressed in bright pink, but the trip was a family vacation, not a fishing trip. I had one large salmon nip at my fly lazily but was never on. We plan on going back, earlier in the year and without the kids. It was pretty stunning to see 20-40 lbs wild Atlantic Salmon in a perfectly clear river.
If you go there are a lot of differences between fishing in the US. Each river is controlled by a ZEC and split into zones. The ZEC is responsible for administering passes, licenses, and controlling how many anglers are on the water. Each zone is either unlimited access, meaning any number of anglers can fish these zones, but for a fee, or controlled access. The fee on the york was $61 per day plus license. The controlled access zones where you must enter a lottery and be drawn to fish are more money. It was $95 per day if you are drawn, but some other rivers are more. We actually won a lottery on the Bonaventure but it was $185 per person per day and the fishing was poor so we didn't take it. We learned a lot about some of the rivers and and how the lotteries work as well as when to fish. It is certainly not cheap to fish, but if you only go once a year or less its worth while. Ill be back for sure!
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Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers