Memorial day has arrived and I first want to pay tribute to all of our soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our way of life here in the United States. If there are any veterans reading this, bring up this post and Ill give you a discount on a trip.
A lot has happened since my report last week. We welcomed our second daughter into the world Saturday evening. It was an event that I almost missed. I was guiding the President of Orvis and his family along with Matt Stedina of VT Trout Bum Guide Service, when my wife went into labor. Thankfully the baby waited for me to get there I guess. We had a great day on the water though fishing was a little slow. Luckily they decided that we would push through the last mile of the float. Thats about the time when my wife began calling. I got loaded up as quickly as possible and met my wife at the park and ride in Richmond. We had the baby about 45 minutes later.
I was out every day of the three day weekend and every day was certainly different as far as fishing goes with fishing ranging from flat out amazing to pretty slow. On Saturday I had a full day float and we had pretty slow fishing. We started the day having to change plans a little and head north to find fishable water as the further south you went the more rain we got and the dirtier the rivers. We found high flows with about 3' visibility to start the day and it improved as the day went on. This river never gets very clear anyway and I was really anticipating some good fishing. Unfortunately I that wasn't the case even though there were good numbers of bugs hatching. The theme of the day was inconsistent, as we would nymph up a fish and then not touch another on that fly the rest of the trip, then have a take and a few chases on streamers and then it would be dead. We did find a nice fish rising and fooled him on a hendrickson emerger, but missed him on the hook set. The day ended with me a little confused and hoping for a better day with clients on Sunday.
Sunday was just the opposite of Saturday. We were on a different river with conditions pretty similar to the day before, higher flows and stained water that dropped and cleared as the day progressed. The first fish of the day was a memorable one, the wild brown pictured above took a #12 tan nymph in a very slow, long and very deep bend. The fish was sitting on a slight current seam right against a rock wall. It was my client Jakes largest fish of his life, and he fought the fish perfectly. It was really quite a moment. From there things were great and we ended up boating over 20 fish not including the ones lost and missed. At one point Karl in the front of the boat had 2 rainbows on his two nymphs and Jake had one on his line. We boated all three. I would say that would be possible if you were in a hole just stocked but we were no where near a road. It was another moment not easily forgotten. Fish were holding in all types of water from shallow riffles to deep runs and were taking nymphs both dead drifted and swung. From here on out you'd be advised to swing your nymphs as the fish are feeding throughout the water column. We took a lot of fish just as the nymph began to rise off the bottom. I didn't see as many bugs hatching as the previous day. The funny thing is that when the it clouded up for the last 1/2 hour of our trip we didn't touch another fish. As soon as the trip was over I raced up to my families camp on Lake Champlain for a BBQ. I took my wife, and 2 year old out in the row boat for a half hour and we shared one rod and caught 2 smallmouth and a decent northern all within about 40 yards from shore in 4-5 feet of water. The fish were happy and fought like crazy. I don't recall many fish hitting my fly as hard as that Northern did. Our daughter loved watching mommy and daddy catch fish, and see them jump out of the water. We were fishing floating line and a dark clouser.
Today, I took the day off from guiding as I hadn't been home since we had the baby, though I did have some people interested in fishing today. My wife did let me take off for a few hours and I hit a stretch of river I'd never fished. It was pretty awesome water. I covered about 150 yards and landed 8 trout, 4 small wild browns, a small wild rainbow, and 3 decent sized rainbows I believe were all wild as well. I am sure 2 of the 3 were. I also lot a nice fish that looked like a good rainbow. I couldn't believe all of the small wild fish as I don't catch nearly as many down lower on this river. It was a challenging place to fish as there were lots of hazards under the water. After landing three fish in the first run I moved up to the next and immediately hooked that large rainbow. After I lost it I attempted to fish the hole hard, well, about 20 minutes and 10 casts later I had lost 6 flies, re rigged 5 times and landed one 5" wild brown. After wondering if there were piranhas in the hole I decided there had to be some kind of cable or metal down there. I continued to lose flies and catch fish as I moved up. The fish were all holding in the deeper areas as well as the tailouts of the spots. Not much in the faster water or smaller pockets. The fish were taking smaller mayfly nymphs than sunday and on the dead drift only. This is a place I will definitely explore again with clients and there should be some big browns with all the juvenile fish around.
This coming week looks wet, but hopefully the rivers will remain in good shape. The fishing should continue to be excellent. The hatches are the same as the previous report with the addition of a few lime sally stoneflies I saw this weekend. I had a cancellation for This SATURDAY, if anyone wants to get out for a wade or float its prime time right now.
Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers