I stopped at the lower end of a midsize tributary during yesterdays rain with the intention of fishing a riffle and pool that I found seems to always hold nice fish early season. I had about a half hour to fish. Knowing the water temps were still cold, but not having time to take a temp, I fished nymphs right off the bat with a big attractor fly on point and a #16 hares ear variation on the tag. Stopping above the pool and fishing a nice pocket in a fast riffle I hooked and lost a fish on my very first cast. I ended up catching one wild rainbow a few casts later and then moved to the next pocket and was surprised to land a 7" Wild Brook Trout and losing one more just after the hook set. Now in a few minutes on my first day out I was 2/3 of the way to getting the VT trifecta! Knowing I usually get more browns in this area than anything, I was pretty sure I'd be able to get one. I moved down to the pool below and was surprised I didn't touch a fish here. I'm sure there were fish but I was not getting down deep enough with a relatively short tippet, pushy flows and no time to adjust. I then moved back up to the first pocket I fished and lost a 12-14" brown. This pocket was a little tough to land fish in with very fast currents on one side and a small log on the other. I found it hard to keep the fish out of the log and out of the fast water from the position I was in directly below the pocket. It was now time to leave and I had landed 2 and lost 3 fish all in these two pockets. I was determined to get a brown in the net so I headed to the pool above the riffle. I was rewarded with a nice 15" brown from deep in the pool and I had my trifecta in 30 minutes!
So the real question is, what did I learn? The biggest thing was that the fish had moved out of their wintering lies into the more food rich riffles and were feeding readily. That's a good sign and both as an indicator that bugs are on the move and getting ready to hatch, and river temps have risen enough for a trout to hold in faster water thanks to a higher metabolic rate. Both of these clues indicate the fishing should be heating up out there. Now, it is still early May and we have some cold nights ahead so your best bet is to fish midday, but you should be covering all the water. I caught or hooked most of the fish on the bigger nymph but the brook trout ate the size 16, so don't get caught up in throwing just the junk flies and larger patterns. Andy was out two days ago and got into some small wild fish in very clear water conditions. He said he also saw multiple large trophy fish move out of their wintering holes and into the riffles, backing up my observations from yesterday.
Keep an eye out for bugs out there. Soon, if not already in some places, we will have a lot of bugs out and fish eating them both below and on the surface. Its not too soon to be thinking dry flies and both myself and clients have caught fish on dries earlier than this. That said, fishing subsurface will definitely put more fish in the net.
River flows are perfect on the smaller sized streams, still a bit pushy on the mid sized streams, and a bit high on our big rivers. Everything is fishable though, and the big rivers are ready for float trips. I'll have some more info soon, as I get more time on more streams in the next week.