May is a Rollercoaster
Fishing picked up throughout early May and finally a week or so ago things got pretty good out there on the rivers, while trout fishing on the lakes was very good in early May. We have certainly had a rollercoaster May as far as weather and temperatures go. We broke records the past two days hitting 92, with our big rivers touching 70 today, which is neither normal or ideal for trout fishing. Thankfully we cool back off and will get some much needed precipitation this weekend. Please get in the stream thermometers out and avoid fishing for trout if the temps hit 70 degrees as the mortality rate of caught and released fish rises dramatically. It seems in recent years May has gone from cold to summer hot with nothing in between. I really hope that's not the new normal. We used to get quite rainy cool May weather it seemed. One thing is for sure we could use rain and a wet summer.
During hot sunny days from here on out you will be better off fishing early or later in the evening. I saw this first hand yesterday. I got a much needed day off from guiding and was on the river solo at 9 AM. Water temps were 64 and fish were eating nymphs in deep fast water. I was able to find good numbers of wild fish with some stockies in the mix. I was actually broken off by two large fish in one run and landed another wild rainbow of around 14" among some smaller ones. Fish were eating both on the dead drift near the bottom, mid column and taking swung nymphs near the surface. I was not able to get any to eat a dry, though I tried, but did get one to eat a nymph under a dry in a swirling back eddy. The previous evening Andy was out with two clients and from 5-6:30 they had great dry fly action on mayfly and attractor flies such as a hornberg dead drifted and then swung.
Back to my day, after around 11 things slowed down. I went up a small wild trout tributary and while I caught a few wild brook trout and rainbows, the fish were not really willing to eat a fly. I saw many swim over and take a look and even nudge the fly but not eat it, and wouldn't even look at a dry. The combination of hot temps, low water, and an angler already fishing through based on the boot tracks I saw, had the fish on edge. I then moved down to a mid sized wild trout stream where it continued to be tough until I had to leave at 3:30 to pick up the kids. I did land a nice 12" wild brook trout unfortunately with a snelled hook stuck in its belly the line hanging out of its mouth. I cut the line and hoped he would make it. 50 yards down stream I found an 18" brown dead on the bottom with a hook stuck in its throat and about 20" of line and sinkers hanging out of its mouth. It was alarming to say the least to find the same thing twice in one stretch of river. I have nothing against other methods of fishing, but when I see this it makes me appreciate the culture and sustainability of fly fishing and really makes me wish the state of VT would do more to protect our wild fish. We don't have a single fly fishing only section of river in the state which is a joke compared to just about everywhere else you go, where many rivers or sections of river are fly fishing only.
Time will tell how long the floating season will last this year. I've been on the drift boat a lot recently with clients, and have been getting lots of stocked fish with a few wild rainbows and browns here and there. Glad to see that wild fish made it through once again. In fact, on some streams they are thriving, we probably got 30+ wild fish of all three species of trout in about 2 hours on a mid sized stream last weekend while wading however.
There are Hendrickson, Quill Gordons, March Browns, Brown Stoneflies, Yellow Sally's, and # 12-16 or so tan caddis out there right now so you'll need to be prepared with just about everything incase the fish get picky, which they have been at times, while others they have been eating about anything. Slender body mayfly nymphs have been the most consistent producer for me and clients lately.
I have a new youtube video from me and Andy's weekend trip down to Central New York, where we found good fishing back in late April before the rivers turned on here. There is a link on the home page and videos page. We have some good footage on there. I am nearly booked for the next few weeks but we can get some weekends and maybe a few weekdays in here and there between Andy and I so get in touch!.
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Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers