Had a great vacation with the family last week for fourth of July, and have returned to find continued good fishing. Sorry to the people who called looking to get out and fish, there were quite a few of you, I hope you were able to get some time in on the water.
Fishing is good right now, you just have to be able to adjust your location and technique depending on river flows and clarity. We are still in the same wet cool pattern we've been in all summer. While some rivers have gotten over 70 degrees earlier this week, I don't think we will have to worry about temps until maybe sunday afternoon on the big rivers. Today didn't even get into the 60's! Really an ideal summer day to be on the water. The high flows and cool water temps are great for our local trout populations as they are still happy and not too stressed, though we did have some significant flooding last week. The wild trout know how to survive the floods, but it will be interesting to see how the stocked fish have moved around. I have not fished any stocked rivers since I've been back. The trout have been able to continue to feed, and by the looks of the football shaped brown trout I landed last night, (first trout pic above) they are putting on weight. That fish took a #14 grey nymph on a mid sized stream. Fish have been taken on dries and nymphs this week, and I'm sure throwing a streamer in the dingy water after a rain could get you into a nice fish as well. I actually just talked to a local client who fished with earlier this season and he was fishing a mid sides stream and could not get a take on nymphs. Eventually he threw on a foam ant and caught quite a few wild browns on dries. I'll be out a lot in the next three or four days and will update things next week though we do have some warm weather coming. I have seen some large golden stones flying around and caught a brookie on a yellow stimulator a few days ago. If you are not getting much on dries or nymphs maybe try downsizing your nymphs as small as a size 20. I actually got broke off last night by a big wild rainbow on 6x that took a #20 Pheasant tail nymph.
I got a ton of fishing on my vacation in. We started by heading down to Manchester, VT and stopped to visit my friend who is in R&D for Orvis designing rods and other gear. Unfortunately, as we arrived at Orvis it began to pour and blew out the Battenkill so we didn't get to fish that evening. We made plans to try a float in the morning and my buddy picked me up bright and early and we met one of his co-workers to fish. The river was so high we had to shorten the float on the Battenkill because we couldn't get the boat under the bridge! The water was moving rapidly and was in the banks and bushes. We managed to move maybe 3 fish in an hour and a half throwing streamers and I was able to land a nice 14" wild brown on a 6" streamer. It was pretty rewarding given the conditions and the river.
That same afternoon the whole family loaded up and went from Southern VT to our families camp on the Canadian border. Its a family tradition to head up for the 4th of July and it happens to coincide with the peak of the Hexagenia Mayfly Hatch. The Hex as its called, is one of the largest of the mayflies, about a size 6 or 8 and hatch on warm calm evening just at dusk. The hatch is fairly finicky and we had seasonably cool weather. The first three nights there were enough bugs hatching for some fish to eat on top, and some big ones at that. Since the hatch was not dense fish would pop up, rise a couple times and head down. You had to get into the preferred distance from shore and wait. At times you would go for 20 minutes or so without making a cast waiting for a fish to come close enough to you. Sometimes a fish wold rise in range but then not rise again or a fish would feed toward you only to turn and go the other way just out of range.. Most of the fish caught were when a fish would rise at least twice so you could see what direction it was moving and lay a cast right in front of it. When this happened the fish would eat almost every time and it is pretty rewarding and exciting. I started the first night out with 4.5x and was broke off immediately by big fish on the hook set. I upsized to 3x and over the 4 nights landed rainbows and browns from 16-21". The last night at was about 5 degrees warmer and I anticipated a good night. I took my 2 year old out and we trolled the fly rod and got a nice rainbow. I then went out by myself and bugs were coming off in good numbers and fish were on the surface early. Since there was a good density of giant mayflies the fish were feeding in sort of circles and staying put in an area instead of searching. I could slowly row near a fish and wait for it to come up and usually get it to eat when I could put my cast in front of it as it was eating on the surface. It was a great way to end out time at camp.
Aside from fishing the hex hatch, my wife and I went over to Northern NH, and fished some crazy packed water. There were fish and anglers everywhere. We did well though landing about 25 trout and salmon. My wife fished dries, while I fished nymphs. We just had to cover all the water and we picked some nice fish from spots that other anglers had over looked. I caught one big brookie in shallow water on the opposite bank in a place absolutely pounded by anglers. i just think that spot was overlooked and since there was a heavy current it was tough to get a good drift. In another busy spot I caught fish directly where another angler had been standing and fishing with little luck by down sizing my nymphs to size 18-20. The fish confidently took the small nymphs and ignored the larger offerings. Likely because of the pressure.
Next we headed down to Old Orchard Beach, Maine for some beach time. I scheduled a trip with Mark Drummond of Drummond Fly Charters out of Kittery Point, Maine. I've been trying for 3 years to get a big striped bass on the fly with no real luck. I told Mark I wanted a big one and we headed out to the broad ocean. On probably my 5th cast I briefly hooked a very big bass right near the boat but he was gone almost immediately. My next fish I landed and was a nice 10-12 pound bass. Finally I had gotten a big striper!! Unfortunately the pics did not save to the camera so I have no pics. We then got into some schoolie stripers and caught a bunch like the one pictured above and smaller. I hooked one other big fish who ran toward shore before turning and running right at the boat. I couldn't strip fast enough to keep pressure on the fish and it came off. I ended the morning landing about 40 schoolies and the big bass. It was a great trip and I'd recommend Mark to anyone. The next morning I took what I learned and landed 10 stripers from the beach on my own, all small fish though.
I've got a lot of openings the next few weeks as I think the cool weather is keeping some tourists away. Ironically that same weather is what is keeping the fishing good. Let me know if you want to get out and take advantage of the good mid summer trout fishing!
Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers