We've been lucky enough to have the cool and wet weather continue. While most people loved the brief heat wave last weekend, I have been loving the former. We have had enough water that even when we had warm weather the water temps stayed cool for the most part. I took temps in the morning last weekend of 65 degrees on the big rivers. Last year at this time our rivers were low and cooking and out wild trout were under a lot of thermal stress. This year our trout have experienced little, if any warm temps depending on the river. This mean that the trout will have more time to feed and grow bigger, and should be in better shape when we get into July and August.
Fish have been keying into mayfly nymphs and soft hackles, as well as golden stones and caddis to a lesser extent. I have still seen very very few fish rising, but they are willing to feed just under the surface. I spotted two trout today feeding about 6" to just under the surface, but they would not eat a dry fly or emerger drifted on the surface. I tied on a #14 hares ear and #18 soft hackle pheasant tail and nymphed up both fish, one on each fly. Hatches consist of Light Cahills, Cream Cahills, Sulphurs, Iso's, Hexagenia on still water, Golden stones, and tan caddis. There was a hatch of Iso's on a mid sized stream this week. They were big about a size 10. I would have mistaken them for another fly had it not been for finding their nymphal shucks on the rocks. They were definitely bigger in size than our fall hatch, which is when they hatch in good numbers and fish key into them on dry flies. They Hexagenia ponds are going to be getting going and the hatch usually peaks around 4th of July. Ill be guiding on a northern pond that has a great hex hatch and brings the largest Brown and Rainbow trout to the surface. You can scroll back through the last two years fishing reports around the 4th to see some of the big fish we have caught. Please feel free to contact me to set up an evening trip to fish the largest mayfly in the East! Ill be up there the 1st of July through the 5th.
As I mentioned already, the fishing has been good this week. I've been on small, medium and large rivers and been able to find very willing fish everywhere I've been. The guided trips have produced well for beginner and intermediate anglers I've had on the water. I did have a customer cancel two days on me this week, and I used this morning where I should have been guiding to do some competition fishing practice. I chose a small low river to fish as this is very demanding and technical fishing typically. The intent was to practice tight line nymphing on small, clear shallow water as well as flat water. Both present challenges to the fly angler in terms of being able to present the fly without spooking fish and in being able to detect takes while keeping your nymphs off the bottom. The solution, besides being stealthy is to fish upstream. This is easily done with a dry fly, but when the fish aren't on drys you need to be able to change tactics. In shallow water casting a nymph under an indicator present a lot of difficulty because you cannot control depth, effectively, and on flat water the indicator can spook fish. What I learned from some very good competition anglers is to the grease your sighter and allow your sighter to float on the surface. This works on both flat and riffly water. By laying your cast at different angles you can control how quickly your nymphs sink. Watching your sighter as it drifts back toward you, you are able to detect strikes by seeing your sighter dart under water. Using lighter weight flies and adjusting the weight of the fly to the depth is important. Eats are not as obvious as with an indicator and you don't feel them at all. It is a definite advanced tactic, but can increase your catch rate dramatically in marginal water, or water I would have walked by a few years ago. If you use a typical tight line drift where you are across from your intended lie, you will spook a lot of the fish in shallow and flat water. I ended up catching 10 browns, one brookie and one rainbow in water that many people would have not even fished, in fact the pools near the dirt road that I felt should have had the most fish didn't have many at all, probably because they had been caught and kept for dinner by bait fishermen.
This weekend is also the Annual Dtich Pickle Classic Bass Fly Fishing Tournament on Lake Champlain. It is one of my favorite weekends of the year. This year there are some great prizes and anglers in the event and about 60-70 teams entered. My teammate and I have gotten 4th two years ago and 3rd last year, hopefully we can improve. Either way its a fun time, lots of beers are consumed, friends made and fish caught! the fishing should be good. Water levels on the lake are at a good level and water temps should have fish feeding heavily. We are going to target some productive largemouth water that has produced good numbers of fish in the past, and then go looking for large smallmouths. I wish we would have had time to practice, but that just has not happened at all. Good luck to all the competitors this year.
Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers