We are directly in the path of Hurricane Isaias as I write this. 2-5" of rain is expected by tomorrow morning and we have had a nice steady soaking rain all day. This should be a good thing as long as we don't get any crazy flood similar to Hurricane Irene. Rivers have been low and Hot. We have done a bit of guiding but Covid continues to affect how much we are getting out with clients. I have been on vacation and have hit cold tail waters in Maine, NH and VT and spent some time casting from rocky points for stripers.
Stripers are definitely my nemesis on a fly rod, and though I have caught a few nice fish they are always a struggle for me. That didn't change last week. I could not get the big fish to eat, but they would follow my fly to the surface. I was fishing near massive schools of Pogy and think that I didn't bring flies big enough to match what the adult stripers were keyed into.
As I mentioned I have been fishing a variety of tailwaters, and its amazing how each one has a different personality. Some fish similar to free stone streams around here where nymphing is very often the most productive method, while others offer technical dry fly fishing. The two biggest fish pictured above were both caught prospecting with dry flies. That biggest brown may well be the biggest I've caught on a dry. It's amazing how slowly those two fish ate the fly and waiting for the fish to get the dry in its mouth is key when that happens. The largest fish pictured was under a tree tucked right against the bank with its nose basically on a nearly dry shelf with the tiniest trickle of water flowing over it, adjacent to a big riffle. I don't think many people would have even cast there. They key to getting this fish to eat the fly was to position myself so that I could get a natural drift without the fast riffle dragging my fly away. My first cast was not close enough the bank and resulted in nothing. I set the next cast about 3" off the shelf and 1' from the bank when the fish turned on the fly and missed it. I think I moved the fly about 6" down stream and suddenly he re appeared and slowly sipped the fly while swimming down river. When I set the hook I honestly thought it was a 12" fish until the big brown began pulling and making runs toward the opposite bank. After a pretty good battle I ended up down the river about 20 yards and only when I was about to net him did I realize just how big he was. Being on 6x tippet in shallow water I had a hard time getting him into the net because he was too big to lift his head out of the water, but on my second try he was safely in the net. Check out my instagram page @benwilcox_maplecountryanglers for the video of this and the other brown. In the video you can see how I only have the fish out of the water for maybe 5 seconds and then he is gone. A little trick I learned if you have a new high quality phone and you are by yourself, is to take video and then release the fish. You can then go back and take your favorite screen shots from the video and its much easier on the fish than using a self timer etc. I get the phone all set up while the fish rests in the net submerged under water and then lift it out quickly.
I can get you out on these rivers so shoot me a message if you'd like to give it a go, but please make sure you are following quarantine protocols.
Going forward I am hoping this hurricane brings a real shift in weather. I see the 10 day forecast is looking cooler and certainly this rain will help to boost river and lake levels as well as flush a lot of hot water out of the systems. Dry fly fishing with terrestrials will continue to be good and as we move into mid August Big White flies and Iso's will get going on the big rivers. If water temps are below 69 these hatches can be awesome fishing.
Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers