Its been a great week of fishing both in terms of quality and quantity of fish. The pics above are just a sampling of the very best from the past week. I've floated with clients and waded new stretches of river tributaries all over various watersheds. As you can see from above there have been some very nice wild fish caught as well as some big stocked fish around. The highlight has to be the giant wild rainbow I caught in a fairly small stream. I had a client cancel for health reasons last minute so I decided to spend the morning scouting new water and it paid off with the largest wild rainbow Ive caught in this area and maybe the biggest I've seen from Northern VT. To catch a lake run steelhead this size is one thing, but a stream dwelling rainbow in an inland tributary, of which myself and clients have literally caught tens of thousands, a fish over 18" is rare and over 20" is like a unicorn. I've two caught large rainbow's this week in two completely different watersheds. That says a lot for the health of our fishery at the moment.
River flows right now are perfect for wading or floating and water temps range from 50 to 60 degrees. We have some warm weather forecast next week so its time to start thinking about taking water temps and moving on if the water reaches 70. Nymphing has been primarily the name of the game, though I have got some fish on dries on the over cast days. The past two full day floats under bright sun I saw a total of one fish rise. Before 11 AM fish seemed to sporadically take anything from big stones, to caddis larvae to mayfly nymphs, but after 11 they have been keyed into #14-16 mayfly nymphs like Pheasant tails and hares ears. I have caught a lot of fish on stoneflies in the past week so don't overlook them just because you see other bugs in the air. Its also time to start swinging your drifts and have taken fish just under the surface this week doing just so. If you see some rising fish a #14 mayfly emerger or dryfly is a good place to start, and if you are getting no looks try swinging wet flies like soft hackle pheasant tails or lafontaine's sparkle pupa's.
As for hatches I've still seen Hendrickson's, Quill Gordon's, and recently seen some Eastern Sulphers in size 16. There have also been grannom caddis, as well as 16-18 dark caddis and tan caddis. I've seen brown stonflies and yellow sallies in sizes 16-18 as well. I have not seen any golden stones Hatching yet but they will in June.
I would encourage everyone to use barbless hooks or pinch their barbs as well. Its better on the fish and on you when you hook yourself. If you are going to take a picture of a fish it can be done in a way that is not very stressful to the fish, even if you are in a drift boat. Have your camera ready or have your partner have it ready. Hold the fish in the net under water, think ahead of time how you need to place your hands on the fish for the pic. If you are alone set the camera on a rock at the waters edge while the fish remains in the water, press the timer button and orient your hands on the fish the way you want them, about 3-4 seconds before the pic is taken lift the fish out of the water and after the pic is snapped immediately put it back in. The fish will be out of the water for about 5-6 seconds on average. The same goes for a boat. Have your boat partner get the camera ready, and sometimes its helpful for them to hold the net while your get your hands oriented on the fish while its in the net under water. Lift the fish and have them snap a few quick pics as fast as possible and put the fish back. It should be out of the water not more than 5-6 seconds. I have begun holding the fish in front of the clients like you see above because many people just don't know how to hold a fish and if it falls into the boat it could end up being out of the water for much longer than is safe for the fish.
Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers