The rain that we have desperately needed has finally arrived! Two weeks ago I predicted that cooler and wetter weather could be on the way, it surely has. 3" of rain fell here on the weekend, and then another 1.5" so far this week! Northern VT has been under moderate drought dating back 13 months, and while a week or two of wet weather will not end it, it will do wonders for our local fish, and water table. We actually had to re schedule two trips earlier this week for the end of this week due to high water, not something we have had to do at all this year prior . I think those clients will be in for a treat. Thanks to increased flows and cool water temps we should be able to branch out and have a lot more options for finding trout.
I have not been out on many of our rivers too much lately due to low warm water but have managed to find some good windows of fishing on some of our freestone streams for myself and clients on top of a few of our stand by's that stay cool all summer long. I got out last night, just before the storm blew everything out, scouting for the trip I was supposed to be guiding today. I found stocked browns both this years and hold overs from last year, as well as some wild brook trout. Fish were willing to eat both a nymph and a dry fly. This has been the case most of the summer. We hit a nice sulphur hatch recently that had quite a few wild rainbows looking up, and then just at dark there was a great sulphur spinner fall that produced a very well built rainbow on a yellow spinner mayfly pattern.
When fishing high water, I usually start with the same flies that I fish in low water. Many people automatically go to big bright flies and attractor nymphs, which work well at times, but I tend to start with what the fish have been already eating, and if I am not getting the bites on those flies, I'll then try bigger brighter flies, worms, jig streamers etc. You can also fish one bigger brighter pattern and one natural pattern together and let the fish tell you what they want. Don't forget the dry flies either! top patterns have been, sulphurs #16-20, ants #12-16, golden stoneflies, tan caddis #12-18.
Just because its rainy this week and cooler doesn't mean it will last forever, it's still July after all. We will surely see more prolonged periods of 70+ degree water, so keep your stream thermometers ready. In fact, when I began fishing yesterday, my plan was to fish down low on the river and was surprised to find a 70 degree reading. I simply got back in the truck and drive about 8-10 miles up river where I got a nice reading of 67 to start the afternoon. I have also been taking fewer trout pictures and most of the ones I have taken have been of the fish in the water, in order to minimize stress to the fish. For now take advantage of the higher flows and cooler weather. The fish will be happy and should continue to feed very well.
I have had a LOT of people attempting to schedule trips last minute, I could have probably scheduled 8 groups for the past weekend just from Wednesday to Saturday. Its worth a try, but we generally are either booked, or if nothing is booked for a weekend have made some sort of plan on our own. It would be wise to plan ahead at least a few weeks.
Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers