My apologies for the lack of pics on this report. I accidentally deleted pics before I uploaded them to the computer.
We just had another record breaking day of heat yesterday with highs reaching well into the mid 90's. My hope is that we have turned the corner and will at least get back to normal August weather. As we move deeper into August the nights lengthen and we start to get cool nights, something that we have not had much of. Cool nights really help our water temps. We have had a bit more precipitation lately but in this immediate area we still have not gotten a whole lot. Other areas have received much more rain then right around here. The rivers have come up a couple times, though not very much and dropped right back down. The next week looks wet, which is great. The temps in most rivers are still too high for trout but there are options on the upper reaches of a lot of streams. We could see the more options open up with the rains and cooler weather soon, which would be great.
I have been doing some trips on the lower big rivers and they are low making for easy wading. We are getting a lot of big fall fish and bass mixed in. These trips really keep the rod bent and are great for kids and adults learning to fly fish. We are using both trout tactics and bass tactics, from floating big dries, to nymphing under an indicator, to pulling streamers and poppers.
I've got a trout trip this afternoon and will be focused on dry fly fishing most likely, but we will see what happens. Ill be wearing camo to blend in and I've instructed my client to do the same. We will be fishing upstream and will move slow and stealthy to keep the trout from spooking.
Lastly, please be considerate of trout in any thermal refuge areas. Its really best to lay off these trout until the water cools. They are really just trying to survive and as they are forced to stay congregated in a small area for longer and longer times the amount of available food is small when there are a lot of hungry trout in one spot. I just called the fish and wildlife a few weeks ago after hearing reports that people were roping in fish after fish, most of them trophies, in a well known thermal refuge. I urged the state to take action to protect these fish as it doesn't take long to reduce the resource, especially if people are taking out the large breeder wild trout. I didn't get too far with the state as they said they couldn't actually close the stretch of river, but were going to send biologists and game wardens down. I really can't understand how closing 100 yards of a river could not be done. They do it in other states. Our wild trout are always on the verge of life and death between tough winters, hot dry summers, predators, and water quality issues, they really should be protected when they are at their most vulnerable.
I am counting down the days until we get to september, but we will make the most of August in the mean time. If we get a cool down, which happens a lot in August, we could have some good trout fishing in small windows.
I Just got back from a vacation in Wyoming and Idaho with my family. Things unfortunately continue to be hot and dry here really putting stress on the local trout in the North East, and even making the bass fishing a bit tough. I'm hoping we have a weather pattern change soon. This coming weeks looks warm but thankfully wet. Our river levels are LOW right now. I've got a trip tomorrow for bass and fall fish, but haven't been doing many trips lately because of the conditions.
Part of the reason we headed out on our trip to Jackson Hole, was to fish in the Team USA Regional Comp over in Idaho. which was the last three days of my vacation. It was also pretty warm out there with seemingly everywhere around the country seeing above average temps. Water temps were fishable in most places, though warmer than normal out there. I got a little fishing in with the family prior to the comp and the highlight was definitely a nice 17" brown from the green river with my three year old in the backpack. I didn't have my net so there was no pic but it was a good memory.
On to the comp. I made the 1:15 minute drive from Jackson Hole, WY over to Ashton, ID to meet my teammates and do a little practice fishing. We fished the lower fall river which was a wide and flat riffle and got a bunch of fish on dries and some on nymphs, though most were small. Soon the sun was extremely hot so we spent the rest of the day looking at the comp water and tying flies for the next day. That evening was the draw, and competitor meeting where I drew a terribly difficult group, and knew I'd really have my work cut out for me.
Session 1: Ashton Reservoir
My first session was on Ashton Reservoir, a small impoundment on the famous Henry's Fork of the Snake River. I was hoping I would not have the lake first since I had zero intel, but didn't get that lucky. Going in blind, we motored about a half mile down the river until we hit the lake area we would be fishing. There were fish rising here and there, and the water coming out of the henry's fork was pretty cool so I made a guess that the fish were not too deep. I was in a boat with Ryan Wilbur, a great dude from CA. Thanks Ryan for letting me use your floatant! I started with a fast intermediate, and he started with a slow intermediate line. Our first drift resulted in only some big chub looking fish so we moved to the other side of the lake where the other two boats were. Things were slow, ryan pulled a rainbow, his only fish of the session, and I had an eat at the boat. I saw other boats catch a few fish so I needed to change tactics. Fish were still rising so I went to a slow clear intermediate line to fish just under the surface and hooked a fish but lost it on my first cast. This reinforced that I had made the correct decision, how ever another 1/2 hour of fishing and I had no fish in the boat. Again it as time to change, and I knew this session was going to be bad for me but hoped I could salvage something. I went to a dry dropper with a big buoyant dry fly and a chrominid 4' down and a leech pattern 9-10' down. Right off the bat I had an eat and broke off the fish on the hook set. I was now getting pretty frustrated. I quickly re-rigged with the same program and before long my dropper twitched and I set into a rainbow. The next half hour I landed 6 fish and missed a couple more takes. All of the fish came on my bottom leech pattern and were very subtle takes. It just took me too long to figure out what the fish were doing, and more importantly, what level the most fish were feeding at. I was not deep enough and instead of moving down in depth in my search for fish I went up. That cost me too much time and I couldn't make up the distance on the better competitors in my group. I ended up with a 4 on the session and was pretty bummed as I was hoping for a 1 or 2 on the lake, knowing I had some really incredible anglers to compete with and the rest of the on the rivers.
Session 2: Upper Fall River
That afternoon was a 2 hour session on the Upper fall river. Mostly faster pocket water, it was right in my wheelhouse as far as rivers go, and I fished pretty well. The picture here is my beat, except for the bottom 1/3 of the pic. You'll see some large boulders mid stream and a lot of structure on the edges. Access was from the left side of the pic. As we walked across the bridge and had our first look at the water I was bummed to see that the entire left side of the river was brown and the river was high. There must have been a release of an irrigation channel or something just upstream because the right side of the river was clear. Unfortunately the water was too high to cross. I began on the bottom of my beat in the dirty water. I had on a heavy PT nymph with a caddis dropper that was mid weight. Immediately I landed a rainbow on the bank. I then climbed onto some large mid stream boulders and fished some slack water mid stream about 15 feet behind a boulder. I landed about 8 fish in that small and dirty slack water mostly white fish, and lost a few others. It was tough since the water was high and it was the end of my beat. Everytime I hooked a fish I had to slide down the rocks, and try to keep the fish from spilling over the fast water and out of my beat. A few big white fish made it down over the rapid and came off but most I was able to control to the net. I then began to work upstream picking apart all of the features. As you can see the left side of the pic has a lot of boulders. I picked up fish all along the edge and into the middle as far as I could wade, at most 1/3 of the way across. As time went on the water was clearing and dropping allowing me to work out a little farther and fish more water toward the middle of the river. The fish were really on the feed and it seemed they were everywhere, form the bank, to pockets, and mid stream riffles. I picked them up both on the dead drift and jigging my flies in the slack pockets behind boulders. I lost a lot of fish in the session unfortunately, a few doubles that I only landed one, and a fair amount of trout that got below me in the fast water. A lot of fish were turning down stream and smashing my nymphs as they swam rapidly down river, so when I set the hook, many times were already down below me in the fast water and some came off. It was a pretty intense session as I swam three times, tore a 3" hole in my waders and scored 33 fish. I probably caught another 20 that were too small to score. When it was over I tied Michael Bradely with 33 fish, but he got me on fish points, so I ended up with the 2 instead of the 1 for the session. I was happy with my performance but needed to have lost less fish to win. I also made a mistake in my last two minutes. I had just scored a 39 CM rainbow that took me down the river. Knowing I had only a couple minutes, I waded back into where I had already fished, and though I caught two more in the last two minutes they were both too small to score. I was hooking fish everywhere and had already caught probably 7 or 8 in that area. I should have run upstream and fished a new pocket with my last minute and I'm sure I would have been able to get another scoreable fish for the session win, I never made it to the top of my beat.
Session 3: Warm River
The warm river had put up some incredible numbers the previous day, so I was expecting to catch around 30 fish in my three hour session. The warm was a very clear and cold spring creek that ran through a canyon. The water was full of rapids, woody debris and logs, and most places in my beat were fairly deep. Some of my intel form teammates was that the fish were feeding in areas where the sun hit the water. Unfortunately, there was no sun that morning in the canyon. I began in the bottom of my beat, but knew there was a decent pool at the top that had been pretty good the day before. My plan was to quickly fish up to the pool, and then head back down and fish my beat a little more thoroughly and end again at the pool. The bottom of the run was a deep swift run with some boulders, logs and a few edges that were a little shallower and slower, where I expected to hit fish, on the opposite bank. I soon found that the fish seemed to really be off. I only missed a single fish on the first 2/3 of my beat. I then caught a short fish and then scored a brook trout on the near bank in what I would call B or C water. I only had one fish and it was about 40 minutes in. I was surprised I was not catching more, but I knew it was the temperature of the water and was not too nervous. I was hoping the other beats were fishing the same. I assumed that once things warmed a little and bugs started popping, trout would respond. I got up to the top pool, which turned out to be more of a fast deep run into a flat tailout and then into a shallow flat and down into another deeper slower bank on the far side of the river. I landed a few fish out of the pool but still not as many as I hoped. I then moved up and got decent brookie in some shallow water near some logs above the pool. I then moved back down and got into some more browns and rainbows in the pool and then the deeper bank below the pool. I had around 8 fish and decided to go back down the the bottom of the beat. I began working the beat a little more thoroughly and picked up fish here and there along the edges and in slower water behind logs and under logs. it was very challenging since the fish were not actively in feeding lies and I had to get the fly deep and very near structure. I lost a LOT of flies this session. Soon I was back up to the top of my beat and was picking up fish here and there in the pool, mostly in the deep tailout where the current was not so strong and my flies were able to get down at their level. Finally I decided to put my heavy nymph on the tag and my smaller nymph on the point to get the smaller bug down to the fish since they clearly did not want to move much for the flies. I picked up some more fish this way including some white fish, right up until the session was over. I ended up with 18 fish scored and probably another 6 or 8 that were too small. I ended up with a 3 on this session, which I was ok with all things and incredible anglers considered. I felt I fished my beat well and couldn't have really gotten many more fish given the conditions. I lost maybe one fish and missed only one or two so I didn't leave many fish on the table.
Session 4: Lower Fall River
The lower fall river I knew would be a little difficult. One because it was the last session of the comp, so the fish had been worked pretty hard. I knew that I wouldn't win the session because the beat above me had a deep hole that held a lot of fish and won every session. This was my worst session overall and I made a few big mistakes. The river was a flat and wide riffle with few features. I had a couple rocks at the bottom of my beat and one near the top. It was a long beat and impossible to cover everything in 2 hours, especially since fish could be everywhere. I started with a dry and two droppers to cover a lot of water. I quickly abandoned this as I was getting no interest. I grabbed my nymph stick, my new Orvis H3 10.5' 3 WT. I had some mid thigh deep water near the bottom that I worked pretty thoroughly. I may have spent too much time here as I fished it from both sides and spent a lot of time here. I did get one fish on the swing and 2 more dead drifted but it was slow. I also had two fish break my 7x on the hook set. My fault for setting too hard with small tippet I think that most other competitors had fished this hard. I should have taken this into account. I then moved to the far bank which had a tiny bit of shade. The water was shallower than it looked. only about 6-8" deep but the river bottom was dark and it was out of the sun. There were a couple of boulders as well. I fished a single fly on 7x and began getting into fish. A few short fish later, I landed a one big enough and made the 100 yard run across the river. It was time consuming and tiring going across and back. I learned a few lessons here. One, I need a very accurate way to measure my fish quickly because I ended up running 3 fish all the way back that were about 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch too short. This cost me a lot of time and energy. I also learned that when you have to run far with a fish I need to unhook the fish first. I didn't do this and once got the line wrapped around my foot so bad I couldn't keep walking and had to try to get my foot freed in the fast water, I also broke off flies twice while running with the hook in the fish or the net, so that cost me more time to re rig after measuring the fish. The proper way to do it is to cast my flies down stream and let them hang in the current below me while I run the fish over. I did this on my last trip across and actually caught another fish but it was too small. Overall I think I scored three fish from the shallow shady water and ran three more back. Had I not wasted this time I would have been able to get more fish scored. With only a few minutes left, I had worked over all the shady areas and went over to the rock at the top of my beat. On my first cast I landed a whitefish and by the time it was scored the session was over. I only scored 8 fish for the session and ended with a 4 losing the 3 by two fish. I should have done better had I managed my time more efficiently and fished it better. I really should have spent more time at that upper rock. The beat above me had that deep hole I mentioned earlier. All of the fish caught there were released not too far from the rock at the top of my beat. I bet that a lot of fish filtered down to that rock and I could have pulled many more whitefish here, but I only had time for the 1 cast.
In the end I ended up with a mediocre 12th place. While I fished fairly well and caught 65 fish for the comp, which was the 6th most of anyone in the comp, it was not enough to keep up with Michael Bradley and Jack Arnot in my group, who took 1st and 3rd respectively. I feel like I easily left 2 placing points on the table which would have brought me up to 8th place. I did learn some important lessons and am excited for the next comp. After 2 comps I am ranked 4th in the overall team USA standings, but there are a lot more to go and some great anglers who have only fished one or no comps yet. Congrats to the winners and thanks to all that organized the event as well as my teammates.
Sorry its been a while since I updated the report. Things have been crazy for me here between selling my house and moving out, on top of guiding and managing trips for my guide Andy. I just haven't had an hour to write up a report and get pics uploaded from my camera, cell phone, and pics sent to me from clients phones and cams.
The big news is the Heat Wave on the way for the holiday week. We are talking some seriously hot weather for at least a week and truthfully has me a little worried about the welfare of our trout. Thankfully we got a good soaking rain that cooled the rivers off and raised the levels going into the warms stretch. I was on the water early this morning with a client on a mid sized stream and it was up and bit and a little off color to start. Water temp as 58 to begin the day, water was warming, dropping and clearing as we fished and about 62 when we got off. The fish were not crazy active but we pick away at them and landed a fair amount. My angler got the grand slam landing wild Brookie, rainbow and brown on this stretch of river. This will be a distant memory by the evening unfortunately. I really hope that we get some thunderstorms next week as eel to help cool and elevate the riversl. These long stretches of warm low water are what really stress the trout. Though we got rain its not going to stop most rivers from warming much above 70 degrees for the weekend and unless you get out Friday morning like I am with a client, or know a river or stream that stays cool all summer long, your best bet is to lay off the trout on our freestone streams. Its a good weekend to take a road trip to a regional tailwater either to the north or to the south. We know a handful of streams and rivers that stay cool all summer so there are some options if you'd like to get out next week with us. For trout, you could also hit a pond for the hex hatch which is peaking right now, as long as it has some depth where the fish can get to cool water. The trout pond we have a camp on has a great hex hatch and even during the warmest years the water is cold 2-4' below the surface this time of year.
I'd also recommend throwing top water for Largemouth bass on lakes and ponds as this warm weather may drive the smallmouth down deep, or fishing the lower stretches of the big rivers for smallmouth.
Speaking of Bass, last weekend was the Annual Ditch Pickle Classic fly fishing tournament for bass on Lake Champlain. We had a great time, drank a lot of beers, but came up just a bit short of our goal of winning the comp. There were about 130 anglers this year and e ended up in Third. Its our third year in a row on the podium but have yet to take the top spot. Really this was our year to win it, and had the fish on to do so but three good ones swam away before the got to the net. We are looking forward to next years tourney. Congrats to the winners and my teammate Mike Woulf on his 5th place individual, his best individual finish thus far. We fished mostly for small mouth and found most fish near drops offs in 3-7 feet of water using intermediate lines. Things were inconsistent to say the least as different rain storms and fronts moved though. We would have long stretches of nothing and then hit 3 or 4 fish quickly. Our cut off to get our score cards in is 11 on sunday and as luck would have it we started to get into bass at about 10:58. I landed a decent one then and then mike lost a real good one at the boat. Suddenly there were nice bass chasing our flies almost every cast and we had to leave. That was pretty exciting but kind of a bummer, cause we could have improved our score for sure.
We have some openings next week as well as the week after. Ill be in Idaho and Wyoming on vacation next week and flshing in a Fly Fishing Team USA Regional in Idaho July 12-14, but Andy will be available to guide the next two weeks so feel free to get in touch with me to schedule a trout or bass trip on the fly.
I hope everyone has been out enjoying the weather and getting in on the great fishing the past week has had to offer. Between myself and two Guides Andy and Evan, there have been trips out almost everyday and am booked through fathers day weekend, though Evan has an opening next Thursday. Conditions are great right now on the big rivers but getting low and spooky on the mid sized streams. We really could use the rain as we are well below seasonal averages and do not want to be in a drought going into the heat of the summer. I did have one slower day guiding on Monday morning after the front came though and cooled things way off. We caught 4 or 5 fish, and missed at least as many, but in runs I'd expect 3 fish in we would get 1. Just about every other outing has resulted in good numbers and fairly easy fishing. That should continue this weekend into the beginning of next week at least. River temps on the big rivers this afternoon were a perfect 60 degrees, but be ready to take temps again next week. Hopefully your thermometers got wet at the end of last week when it got hot.
While we have gotten some nice fish, as is usual this time of year the smaller fish really start to show up. For instance you could fish through a stretch of river that is known to have wild trout in May and maybe hook a few nice fish and a few mid sized fish and then go hit that same stretch today and catch three time as many fish with a lot of them being 5-10". It seems to be like this every year. This was the case wednesday night on a smaller river, and while we managed 4 nice fish, we caught as many or more fish under 7'. Things were spooky as I mentioned earlier, and if you fished a run or pool second it was tough to get eats, usually I can pick up pretty good numbers of fish after its been fished but I only managed to lose one and miss a couple. Fish have been spread out between deep pools, rapids, and skinny riffles, and near any structure both on the big and smaller rivers. We have gotten a lot of fish out of skinny and fast water recently. One tactic that worked for me the other night while nymphing some marginal water was to downsize my tippet to 7x and fish a single fly. The section of small stream I fished was a fast riffle that was about 6" deep and no real structure but for the slight outside bend that had about 12" of depth in about an 18" wide slot along a rock wall. Going with one fly and presenting my nymph upstream of me, I was able to get a precise cast into the slot and took three wild rainbows of 12", 11", and 6" out of that slot. Had I been fishing two flies my accuracy would have been diminished and the two flies may have been in different current speeds resulting in an unnatural drift that may not have been eaten, especially if both flies were weighted.
We have also had some good opportunities on dry flies. A few trips out have landed good numbers of fish on mainly caddis imitations. Both in pocket water during the day and flatter water in the evening. On top of dry fly fishing, swinging wet flies is very productive right now at all times of the day. Generally I like a soft hackle mayfly imitation and a caddis pupa imitation like a lafontaine's sparkle pupa.
Last friday I saw the first two golden stonefly shucks to add to the potpourri of what is hatching right now. You can read the list in my last report.
The past weekend I got down to the Catskills with fellow Guide Andy and we met up with our long time high school friend Adam for the weekend floating the Delaware River system. This was a last minute trip planned a week ago. I was supposed to be fishing in the US National Fly Fishing Championships in Bend, OR that weekend but because of a variety of problems and events over the past few months I had to drop out. While we had a great trip, we didn't love it down there. We stayed a great cabin on the East Branch of the Delaware, with riverside access, and had we stayed and fished from camp probably would have caught more fish than floating. Ill preface this story with the fact that I have fished just about every western state, eastern state, Alaska, Canada etc and not had anywhere near the issues I had on the Delaware. The big problem was the absolutely insane number of fishermen and drift boats on those rivers, and the fact that many, though not all, said fishermen were assholes. In fact we were swore at by fishermen, had a boulder sized rock thrown from the bushes at us by other fishermen, and to top it off some piece of crap stole the pin from my trailer hitch and my trailer came off the while towing the drift boat. Luckily I had a backup trailer hitch so grabbed that pin and kept going and the trailer didn't do any damage to my truck or get damaged itself. I guess its too close to NYC or something but 75% of anglers wouldn't say hi or clearly acted pissed you were there. There were times we could see 7 drift boats in sight while floating and places there were 20 or 30 anglers wading. Being that the wading anglers have the right of way we were constantly maneuvering around behind them and most every good piece of water we didn't fish because its bad etiquette to fish a wading anglers water. Well, a lesson learned, as I said our cabin was great and Ryan Fifield of Fifield Outfitters was a big help. If I go back it will not be on a weekend, and if the flows are low like they were I will just wade fish. There are some big fish in those rivers for sure so I'll be back again.
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.
Crazy how fast things have improved out on our area rivers. It was a late spring that had me tied up with maple surging until last week, and as I said in my previous fishing report, I wasn't missing out on too much. Though that was a week ago, it feels like a month in terms of how fast the fishing has progressed and how many of our rivers have become fishable.
Last Sunday was my first day out and pretty much all the rivers were blown out so my self and guide Andy Masenas, who will be doing trips for us this year, brought the drift boat down to a small trout pond that neither of us had ever fished. We ended up landing about a dozen rainbows from 9" to about 15". There were some much bigger fish in that pond as well. Andy got broke off by one and I had a big fat rainbow take a booby fly on the hang right at the boat but couldn't keep him on. The fish in the ponds were fairly shallow and cruising a marshy shoreline shoal and a small bay tucked against a bridge. There were two occasions when we saw some midges coming off and fish began to rise. Overall it was a very successful scouting trip and Ill keep it in the back of my mind for days when things are blown out and I need to get clients on fish.
I also got out on some small Champlain Valley streams and had good success. Andy and I landed about 8 or so fish in the small wild trout stream pictured above. 2 wild brookies of 6" and 11", two wild browns of 7" and 9" and some rainbows from 6" all the way to one nice fish around 14-15". I made a terrible mistake netting that big one and it got away without a picture. We also witnessed two fish trying to jump a waterfall. I can only assume they were rainbows wanting continue migrating to spawn. I don't think they had a chance of making it up over the falls. I also hit our local steelhead stream one morning and didn't hook an adult steelhead, but did land the bass pictured above so there will be more showing up soon. Aside from the trout and bass I landed suckers and fall fish, I guess everyone is hungry. I also stopped at the lower end of a Northern VT trout stream while driving from a meeting and ate lunch. Not being able to resist, I grabbed my rod and walked to a deep pool with just my running shoes. Only having a nymph rod and no good way to make a drift, I just tossed into the pool and let my flies sink before stripping them back in. Suddenly on my first cast a giant brown appeared right near my feet and ate my fly. Unfortunately it instantly broke my 6x tippet. Stripping the fly with no shock absorption from the rod tip, it happened instantly. I know where he is and maybe can go back and get him. I'd bet he was 22-24".
Water temps are in the 50's thanks to all the sun and warm weather and fish are happy. We caught most fish on various mayfly nymphs from sizes 12-16, and a few fish on stonefly patterns. Bugs are showing up now in good numbers especially midday. The fishing actually slowed the other day as we got later in the evening and not as many bugs were hatching. I've seen Hendricksons in the air, and tons of nymphs in the water, some smaller mayflies that I think were blue quills, and likely I've mistaken some Quill Gordon's for Hendrickson's when they were flying above me. There are also some small brown stoneflies around as well as some tan caddis (Grannoms), and midges around as well. This time of year the fish can be keyed into a specific hatch or be munching on a variety of bugs. When nymphing, you'll definitely want to have a PT nymph on as one of your flies and rotate your second fly. Its time to start grabbing your dry fly rod and boxes as well. I'll typically carry a rod rigged up with a dry dropper for certain water types, and if fish begin really eating on the surface clip off my nymphs and throw on the appropriate dry.
The majority of the rivers look like they are in great shape right now. I can't believe how fast the big rivers have dropped and cleared and they are definitely fishable right now for about the first time in a while. Many rivers will be getting stocked soon so there will be many more fish in some rivers. Some times its a good thing on the rivers don't support wild trout or very few, but other times it can be a pain trying to work throughout the stocked fish to find a bigger wild one.
Have a good weekend on the water.
I fished in the 2018 Fly Fishing Team USA Northeast Regional Tournament in PA this past weekend. The comp was a little different from most in that it was an all lake comp. We fished both Lake Perez and Canoe Creek Lake. Things went very well for our team taking silver and for me personally with a 3rd place.
I headed down to PA on Wednesday night Picking up teammate Jesse Haller down at Orvis. There were practice sessions on each lake on Thursday and we wanted to get on the water to gather intel prior to the comp. This proved to be essential for me for two reasons. One, I had not fished since October. I and gotten a new reel and spooled up some new lake lines over the winter and hadn't used them. As soon as I got on the water i found my reel was not right, it was set up for a right hand retrieve but I had spooled it with my left hand. I also discovered my gear in a complete mess and it was probably 45 minutes in the boat until I was ready to fish. Our goals were to one, find areas holding fish, two find what level they were feeding at and what line to use, and three what flies they were interested in. My plan was to have a go to line, and then a backup plan if that was not working. I did not want to spend time switching out lines during the comp. We got some good intel on where to start on Lake Perez. While we only caught a few fish each, we were able to locate several areas holding fish where I would start on the first comp day. In the afternoon we hit Canoe Creek Lake for practice. Thanks to a boat that was downright dangerous, heavy winds, and snow, we didn't really get much for intel and never caught a fish in practice. Unfortunately for Jesse he had Canoe Creek on day one so had a distinct dis-advantage of not having a whole lot of intel on where to fish or what to use on his first day. Thankfully, our teammate Roe-Bear came up from Virginia Thursday afternoon and spent much of friday scouting out the venues and talking to local anglers at each lake, which was a big help. Roe Bear ended up with a top 10 finish himself which was awesome. We were able to get a bunch of flies tied and get some river fishing on Spring Creek Friday before the comp, where we nymphed up a good number of wild browns, though had to work hard for them.
Session 1: Lake Perez West
I was paired up with Madoka Myers in session 1. She proved to be a great boat partner and awesome angler. We had last pick of boats, so got a small boat with a nice sized leak, but it rowed well and drifted nicely. In practice, we had not landed a fish on this end of the lake, however, we saw an angler catch a fish and some fish rising from a distance in one area as we rowed to the other end of the lake. This proved to be just enough info to put us in the right place. The best part was the other 6 competitors in our group went to another area so we had it to ourselves until the last 45 minutes. I began with an intermediate line to fish 1-6' below the surface. In practice I had luck with orange buggers so began there. On our first drift Madoka hit a fish with a small PT nymph. I threw one on but didn't get an eat on it. I realized my orange was not on the menu and abandoned that early. I went small and dark on my bugger and soon had two fish. Madoka happened to have the same fly in her box and she too began landing fish. We kept the same drift going near shore until things slowed. We then adjusted our drift a little further out and were back into the fish. I caught all but one fish on that bugger and one a chrominid, and all while stripping fairly erratically. No fish were coming on the hang so I stopped even bothering as it was taking too much time. I decided to double up on the hot fly but worried in the back of my mind that I could lose both of them to bottom or a fish, and I had only three total. Of course that happened with a minute left in the session when a fish ate super hard and immediately my flies were gone. A few competitors landed rainbows of 59 cm and 52 cm so I wonder if it was one of those. My heart rate rose through the roof knowing I would have the entire next session to fish with only one hot fly. When the session was over I had 8 fish landed for a 1st place and Madoka had 5 and got 2nd. I was pretty damn pumped as I had just won my first ever session in a comp. Here is one of Madokas nice fish.
Session 2: Lake Perez East
This was the easiest and most fun session of the weekend. We had the eastern half of Lake Perez in the afternoon and through random draw had a boat with Madoka again. We both hoped that the fish would be onto the same flies as the morning. We had each gotten into fish during this session on this end of the lake basically in the middle where it was fairly shallow. Thankfully it was the same program as the morning and we had things dialed in. Things started off well and I landed two fish right off the bat on a small black nymph. Soon I had a three or four fish lead on Madoka when all of the sudden she landed a double and then about 5 casts later another double! It was pretty awesome, but from that point on I was not able to get back ahead of her on fish. Every time I would land one she would as well. The fish were still on the same dark bugger and we were catching a lot. About halfway through the session I was pretty sure that we would take a 1 and a 2 as other boats seemed to not be catching nearly as fast as us. I think mostly they were not on the right flies. The fish were a little more nippy in the afternoon and you had to keep stripping if you didn't hook up with the fish the first time. Fish also began to take the fly on the hang occasionally. I had to make one adjustment and get rid of my top dropper fly because many times as I landed a fish it would wrap around my rod tip and I'd have to spend a minute getting that free before I could fish again. When you are catching only a few fish its not a big deal but the fish were coming pretty quick in this session. I bet that had I done it sooner I would have landed another 2 or 3 fish. When it was all over Madoka landed 19 and got 1st and I landed 16 and got 2nd. I was right near the top of the leader board after day one with Canoe Creek Lake up next. Intel from our teammates was that if fished tough so I was not quite sure what to expect on day two.
Session 3: Canoe Creek Lake West
This was my worst session and the one that cost me winning 1st place overall. Canoe Creek Lake is a big lake is deeper than Perez. Thankfully it fished better than the previous day. I had Team USA member Michael Bradley with me and we had last pick of boats again. We were stuck with a 10' boat that was super tippy and rowed terrible. The oars were way too long and we knew that we were not going to go far from the boat launch. I had heard from a teammate that a competitor had landed a few fish near shore fairly close to the boat launch so thats where we started as did one other boat. I started with three different flies and landed a couple fish early on two different flies. Soon Michael landed two as well when we drifted very near shore. My previous fish had come out a little deeper, but we saw a fish rise very close to shore and decided to work that area as neither us nor the other boat had fished that close to the bank in a small bay. It was probably more than 1/2 way through the session and we each had only two fish. I had lost 1 or 2 and missed some good eats somehow. All of the sudden Michael went on a run and landed three more fish. I changed my flies fairly regularly throughout the day as there was no consistency to what they were eating. Finally with about a 1/2 hour left I got things going and landed one and a cast or two later had a double on but only landed one of the two. Soon I landed another and tied up Michael. I then took a cast right to shore on the point of the bay. Stripping really fast I got a fish on but somehow he came off about halfway to the boat. That would have put me in the lead and I was pissed. I missed another soft take on my last cast of the session and ended with 5. I really should have put about 9 in the boat that session so I was a little bummed. I figured i would be getting a 3rd or 4th but ended up tying Michael and Przemek Kaminski for first but lost on fish points to Micheal and got 2nd. Had I taken the 1 here I would have won 1st in the comp.
Session 4: Canoe Creek Lake East
With my worst session hopefully behind me and a chance at the podium very real I knew it was time to remain focused for three more hours. The entire weekend had felt as though every time my flies were in the water it was inevitable that they would be eaten, and I felt that even more so going into the last session. Thankfully I turned out my best performance here. Everyone had the same intel on the last session as to where the fish were. A small shallow bay had produced a lot of fish for the competitors who fished it in the morning and everyone went straight there. I knew it would come down to a few fish and who could select the right flies, line, and retrieve to win it. I was with Przemek in the boat and he was having a great performance himself and was near the top going into the last session. I fished the same intermediate line and same three buggers I ended with in the morning. The second cast of the session I netted a fish and was feeling confident. We both picked away at fish as did others around me. I had about 4 fish half way through plus a foul hooked rainbow that did not count. I knew It was not going to be enough to win, so I thought we should leave the bay and head about 150 yards away to a point I had seen some bank anglers catch a fish or two during the morning and where my teammate had landed a fish the prior day. This proved to be the right move. I tied on a small damsel fly nymph and on my first cast at the point landed a fish on that fly. I then had a double but landed only one of the two. I think I ended up with 4 there before things slowed. No one had joined us so we went back to the group of boats with the intention of heading back to the point right at the end and hopefully get one or two more. We each got a fish in the group of boats before we bolted again. The other boats had assumed we didn't catch anything on the point so again didn't follow us. We got a fish or two right at the end so our plan had worked. I ended up with 10 fish for 1st and my boat partner got 7 for 3rd. That was enough to get me on the podium with a bronze medal, and helped Team Stackmend to a Silver medal which I was super pumped about.
The only downer was we had to stay for awards, which normally would have been great, but I had to be home by 6:30 AM the next day because I had to watch my the two girls. I ended making it home at 5:20 AM so it was a loooong monday but well worth it! I also realized I need a new boat net as my rubber bag had too much water resistance when trying to net a fish with one hand. I had a few troubles, thankfully it didn't cost me this comp though it definitely could in the future.
Thanks a lot to my teammates Jesse Haller, Roe Bear, and Tyler Cornett and congratulations on our silver medal. There is now way I'd have been able to do as well I did without their help and friendship. I really owe a lot to Jesse as he has helped me in every way from day one and included me on his teams from the beginning. Also thanks to Ken Crane and Pat Weiss for organizing and Madoka, Michael, and Przemek for being great boat partners and finishing 7th, 4th, and 5th respectively. Congratulations to Roe Bear on his top 10 finish as well. Lastly congrats to Pat Weiss on the win and Devin Olsen with the silver. It was an honor to finish along side two of the best in the world.
Good to be back with everyone! Its been a long, long, winter. We are a week and a half into the trout season and, honestly, I have not been out in VT yet because of my maple sugaring season still wrapping up, though I did just return from a fly fishing competition in PA. I'll have a post up about the results in a day or two. The truth is, I haven't missed a whole lot. Right now the combination of rain and snowmelt have even the smallest tributaries blown out and dirty.
For the next day or so, you'll be better off fishing still water trout and bass ponds, but I'd recommend hitting ponds anytime this spring. The trout fishing on lakes and ponds this time of year can be very good. Fish are going to be found near the surface and in shallow where the water warms more quickly. Stripping small buggers and nymphs from just under the surface to about 6' down will draw strikes. Vary your retrieve and change flies often until you dial in what the fish want. I strip three flies until I figure out what they are on. You can also use a dry dropper rig or Indicator rig with a nymph, chrominid, or worm suspending below. Scan the surface of the water for any insects, birds fly low (eating bugs) and for rises. If you see any of these signs that will be where you want to fish. Most of the bugs hatching this early will be midges of varying sizes, so a chrominid is a good choice for fly.
Once the rivers come down the fishing should begin to pick up. As always this time of year it is generally a quality over quantity game and some of the biggest fish in the rivers are caught. I know some friends have gotten into some beautiful browns and rainbows. We have 70's forecast next week so the water will begin to warm, causing insects and fish to be more active. Keep in mind that there is still an insane amount of snow in the mountains so on hot sunny days rivers may run off color in the PM from snowmelt.
Your best bet on flies will be larger attractor nymphs like stoneflies, buggers, worms, bigger pheasant tails and the like, but fish your nymphs in tandem with a small natural nymph like a green caddis larvae or hares ear. I remember fishing early season on a mid sized trib and took a 16" brown on a dead drifted white bugger and then two casts later an 18" brown on my green caddis larvae dropper. Make sure you get your flies down to the bottom by using heavy tungsten beads or adding split shot. Streamers are a good option as well this time of year. I use a 6 wt rod with Orvis Bank Shot line, which is a sink tip line to get the streamer down quickly. I'll report back as conditions improve and bugs start hatching soon.
I hope that you have been enjoying this unbelievable weather we have had in October. We've only got one week left in this incredible season so get out there! I've concluded my guiding season a week ago and would like to thank everyone who has fished with me as well as the many people I was not able to get out on the water with. This has been my most successful season yet, even with a slow June thanks to the cool weather. I probably had as many people want to book as I actually took out. Ill likely add a second guide next year. Ive got someone in mind who is a really good guide but won't announce it until next year and its set in stone, but I'm really excited for him to help out.
The warm weather has kept the trout fishing good and steady, while the low water has kept the salmon fishing slower. I've been on the big rivers, mid sized tribs, and on the salmon stream looking for Land Locked Salmon both with clients and on my own.
As far as trout fishing, I've had some great trips recently with some really good dry fly fishing at times. I hit a small rain shower with a couple clients on the drift boat and BWO's instantly began hatching in good numbers. It was only a matter of minutes and we had about 8 -10 trout eating off the surface. A # 20 BWO emerger fooled a good number of them. I've also had good success on nymphs and have gotten some very impressive rainbows. One trip 8 out of 12 trout were 13-16" and fought like crazy. Ive found the trout on the big rivers to be more picky and mostly taking smaller nymphs 16-20. On the tribs I've noticed that the fish seemed to feed more opportunistically and were eating what ever drifted through their feeding lane. I fished the lower part of a gorge area one day with my brother in law and the upper part of it the next with a client and we found that in the head of every deep pool 1-2 nice rainbows were holding and ready to eat. It was pretty fun fishing in there. I've been carrying a streamer rod with clients but the fish have not shown much interest. We are getting a good amount of rain tonight and this weekend so the streamer rod may produce better. I would not hesitate to hit the tribs if the water is up and dirty.
On the Lake run Salmon front, as I said before, it has been ok. The low water and lack of rain is the reason. There are fish, but just not in great numbers, and with low water and high pressure you need to present your fly perfect to get eats. I fished with my wife sunday AM and we did well. She got a nice lake run Brown of about 19", and I got a steelhead and landlocked pictured above. I didn't get a pic of her beauty brown as it slipped out of her hands. Its not a common thing to get all three species in an hour and a half, let alone one season. All of the fish ate a #16 PT nymph. I anticipate the fishing will be really good for the remainder of the season. We had the same conditions last season and when the rain finally came the second to last day of the season the fishing was really really good. I'd like to guide or fish myself but it doesn't look like that will happen as I'm headed hunting in Ohio.
Ill try to get a season wrap up report sometime in November so be on the lookout for that. Have fun out there and remember to always practice good etiquette on the water and more importantly, respect the fish we all love and the environment that allows these fish to live.
Fall began yesterday, but Summer is holding in for another week. Actually we are going to see some of the warmest temps of the year. Trout fishing is going to be poor, and it had not been good the previous week. Water temps are high, 68-72+ on the big rivers and the levels are low. Honestly, the best bet it to wait until next week to fish for trout, or head into the smaller streams to find cold water. Those small streams are very low right now and spooky so you need to take on a hunters mentality if you are fishing smaller and mid sized streams. It can be challenging, but rewarding.
I took this weekend off from guiding long ago as I had some other commitments and have been guiding a lot this month. I am really glad I did since the conditions are poor. We are actually going to see the worst week of trout fishing we've seen the whole summer. The clients I have coming in earlier on next for float trips will be going for bass instead of trout, though I am looking forward to a change to bass after chasing trout all spring and summer.
The fishing this past week had been tough as well. Warm days with bright sun and mild over night temps are to blame. I had a full day float that I had to change to a half day thursday as the temps were 67 to start and rose to 70 when we got off the water at midday. The fishing was slow and even fall fish were reluctant to eat. We got a few trout including a decent wild brown and a brookie in the main stem of a big river which is rare.
I would recommend staying off all big rivers until it cools down, especially the Winooski below waterbury and the little river below the dam. After stopping to take a temp on the little, which always runs cold from the bottom release dam, I was shocked to find that the water was 72 Wednesday night. I went up to the dam to find that water was spilling over the top and they were doing construction on the dam. I emailed VT Fish and Wildlife and got a response the next day. The turbine is being replaced in the dam to allow a wider range of generating flows in order to more naturally maintain a "run of river" flow instead of the huge releases we see now. This will be complete by April 2018 hopefully. In the short term its not good for our trout in the Little River or the Winooski below. That cool water helped cool the entire lower Winooski. Our wild trout are going to have a tough time in this warm spell. Especially the ones who reside in the Little itself as they are not used to warm water temps at all. Hopefully not too much damage is done and the fish will be better off in the future once the turbine is replaced and the water is once again cold.
Good luck out there and please use your stream thermometers this week.
Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers