Without a doubt, the theme of the summer in the Northeast was the never ending rain. My dad always says one weather extreme follows another and after not getting much of any precipitation all spring, the rain just didn’t stop this summer. Much of Vermont experienced a 100 year flood event this past summer and most other areas have seen excessive rainfall if not severe floods as well. So what is a trout angler to do when the rain just won’t stop and the rivers are high and occasionally muddy?
Fly Fishing a Dry Dropper Rig
Suspending a nymph under a dry fly is an extremely exciting and effective tactic when fly fishing for trout The visual aspect of focusing on the dry fly while also targeting trout that are feeding subsurface makes this a favorite of mine on both rivers and lakes throughout the season, but is most effective late spring through fall. Let’s dig into some of the finer details that will help you catch trout with a dry dropper rig.
***This Article Appears in the May 2023 Northwoods Sporting Journal***
May in the Northeast, probably the most anticipated month on a fly fishers calendar. As I tell all of my prospective clients, this is the time to book a trip! There is so much to look forward to this month that it can be a little overwhelming. Lakes and ponds are fishing great with trout feeding all day right up near the surface, bass and pike are shallow and aggressively feeding pre-spawn, and of course the river fishing is quite literally heating up, whether from a drift boat or while wading.
April Fly Fishing
***This Article Appears in the April, 2023 Northwoods Sporting Journal***
For the vast majority of Fly Fishermen in the Northeast, April is a pretty special month. Most trout streams and rivers become fishable for the first time in months, and depending on the state regulations, opening day is somewhat of a holiday. Until a few years ago, VT trout season began on the second Saturday in April. It now
4:30 AM, the lake is calm, and the eastern sky is just starting to turn pink. I ease the boat up onto plane and make a 25 minute run. It's late June on Lake Champlain and this flat I've chosen is as close to a guarantee as you can find in Smallmouth Bass fishing. As I get near the small point I kill the motor and deploy the bow mounted troller. Its just before 5 am now and there is plenty of light, as I silently angle the boat to the south of the point I see the first big swirl in the bay, then another. Stripping line from the reel, bass popper in hand, I watch the depth finder go from 15 to 4 feet pretty quickly. Just about to make a blind cast into shallows I notice some baitfish 15 feet in front of the boat. Suddenly a smallmouth slashes through the school, back out of the water coming right at the boat. I flick the popper at the swirl and instantly the fish rolls on the fly then goes airborne as I set the hook. These bass are street fighters, and in shallow water, the only place to go is up. Minutes later I finally am able to horse the roughly 5 pound fish into the net. For me, few things in fly fishing are more exciting to me then rolling up on a smallmouth flat at day break or just before sunset.
As many of you know I am laid up this summer after undergoing foot and ankle reconstruction after years of injuries from playing high level soccer.
So, for the moment I have a bit of time to do some writing for the site. I have been slacking, but enjoy doing re caps of fly fishing tournaments as there are always lessons I learn that are more easily stored in my memory banks if I can write them down. They also provide a lot of insights for the casual reader when it comes to how I go about catching fish in a river or lake that I am not familiar with.
The Nine Mile Mini Comp was held back in mid June down in NY, about a 4.5 hour drive for me. I got up early Saturday morning and arrived at the river to meet my teammates Sean Crocker and Ken Krane along with a couple of other friends for a fun little practice session. These mini comps are not real serious and its a good time just getting out fishing and learning from one another.
We have heard it a thousand times, trout eat 90% of their food sub surface. Many anglers, including myself, have had this saying bolstered by our on the water experiences so many times that nymphing has become the go to method to catch trout in a river. What happens though, when the trout, or only a few trout are looking for that perfectly dead drifted nymph that we strive so hard to present?
The fact is, there are more times than we may realize, when nymphing is not the way to experience our most successful day on the water. While the majority of the trout do probably eat 90% of their food below the surface, the saying does not tell the whole story. Species composition, the nature of individual rivers, the time of year, and what food source the fish are targeting are all variables that will determine what the most successful method of fly fishing will be on a particular day. It is our task as anglers to figure out the daily puzzle and depending on our goals, use the tactics that will produce the best experience. To me, this is what makes fly fishing so interesting. Being a versatile and dynamic angler will usually out perform a one trick pony. Like the river we stand in, no two days are the same. Let's dig into some of the variables that will push the odds of catching fish on a dry fly, streamer, or wet fly greater than if only nymph fishing.
I recently did an interview with AnchorFly.com where Lance Egan and I answered a few questions regarding Euro Leaders. I think you'll find some good insight on how each of us prefer to set up our leaders. With both Lance and I sharing different ideas on the subject, there is a lot packed in to the piece.
Give it a read here. Talking Euro Leaders With Lance Egan and Ben Wilcox
Kyle Rutten from Riversmith has contributed a great article for you all to read. Please check it out below and be sure to head on over to their website to shop their awesome fishing rod carriers. They are a great sponsor of Fly Fishing Team USA, and make great racks for your fly rod. In the spirit of the article, let's make sure we all do our part in 2022 to support our wild fish and the rivers, streams and lakes that they call home.
When it comes to fly fishing, Mother Nature is incredibly good to us all; providing us with an array and abundance of fish species, landscapes so serene and breathtaking to fish for them in.. and she does it all without asking for anything in return. But what if we want to give back to her in ways that demonstrate reciprocity, respect, and appreciation? What can anglers do, today and tomorrow, to pay her back in some way? To say thank you for everything that she has given to them?
I got a call from a discouraged local angler last spring, looking to spend an afternoon on the water. It was mid May and Bob had just explained he had fished every single day of the month and had yet to catch a trout. This was the type of trip I jumped on, as it presented an interesting challenge. Could I help turn things around for him before he gives up fly fishing in VT all together?
I met Bob a few afternoon’s later on a mid sized stream that held both wild and stocked fish. It was a gorgeous afternoon and the river looked great, running just a touch off color and a bit on the high side. The water temps were cooler than average for mid May, but the trout had been very willing to eat a nymph the whole week. I knew it would be a good day to get Bob back on track. Dawning waders, and getting to know each other, I Identified what I believed to be his issue before ever seeing him cast a fly. Bob explained he fished Montana once a year and always did well, but when he got back here he just had no confidence that a fish would eat his fly, or if there were even trout in the river to eat his offering. After a short amount of coaching the problem was remarkably clear, Bob was getting bites, his confidence was so low that he talked himself out of setting the hook. At first, even when I told him to set he would half set, neither hooking or feeling the fish.