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.
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Ben Wilcox Owner/Guide Maple Country Anglers