June 8th, 2016
It’s a magical time of season when caddis hatches begin. Every fish in the river will be after’em. Yesterday we caught salmon and trout from 4 to 20 inches. It the biggest banquet of the year and every fish young and old are taking advantage of the abundance of food. This is when you find out just how many big fish are actually out there because they are all eating.
Caddis hatches can be somewhat frustrating to the angler. There are lots of different species and the ten thousand dollar question is, “At what stage of the hatch cycle are fish feeding on?” Yesterday we found a bunch of nice trout and salmon feeding along an eddy line, maybe 6 or 8. Instead of tossing whatever at them we sat and observed for a bit to try and figure out just what they were after. We spotted fish feeding on the adult caddis floating on the surface. Others were taking caddis as they emerged just below the surface and others were grabbing the pupa as it drifted toward the surface. Any one fish could have been feeding on one or all stages of the hatch. In the end we had fish grab a dry, an emerger and soft hackle. But no one fly worked on every fish. And it didn’t take a lot of harassment before they stopped feeding all together. The great thing about caddis season is all you have to do is either rest a pool until the fish get comfortable and begin feeding again or move on to the next feeding lane.
When you spot a fish feeding, especially a larger, older, wiser fish don’t be in a rush to drift your fly over it. We watch feeding fish everyday and if put a feeding fish on the clock it may be 2 or three minutes or longer between rises. Once a fish goes to the surface and grabs a bug it has to get back to the bottom and return to the sweet spot where after a bit starts looking up for something else to eat. It you watch for a while you’ll begin to tune in to the feeding cycle of a fish. If you start harassing it you don’t stand much of a chance fooling it. If you miss one or it refuses your fly only drift over it one or two more times. If it is really wants your bug it will happen then. If not show the fish something else, maybe an emerger or a parachute style fly. You won’t get every one but a feeding fish is looking for something to eat and it won’t eat just anything.
There are so many different ways to fish a caddis hatch, dries, emergers, or soft hackle wets. Every method has its tricks. After a good drag free drift with a dry let it swing and go under water for a bit. Many times fish will grab it just after it goes under. It may not look natural but it works, sometimes.
At the end of a good drag free drift lift your rod and skip your dry back upstream 5 or 10 feet then drop your rod tip and let the fly drift back over the area you just skipped it through. It imitates a caddis trying to take to wing but ends up back on the water. There are many days when the skip and drift catches lots of fish.
Once a hatch is about over and well after switch to soft hackle wets. Fish are more likely then to eat something just under the surface than something flirting around on top. Fish don’t have to work as hard to get something just under the surface. Soft hackles are a game changer when the dry fly game stops working.
All our rivers are fishing well. Water levels are excellent for wading. Hatches will start mid-morning and last into the afternoon with more later on toward dark. Fishing is going to be as good as it gets for sometime to come. It’s time to put away the sinking lines.
Have a great fishing trip.