June 1, 2018 – Fish have started looking up. Mayfly hatches have been spotty so far with only a few here and there, mostly in the afternoon. The good news is there have been just enough to get the interest of fish. We began fooling both trout and salmon on soft hackle wets. Hendrickson and Hare’s Ear seem to working the best. Swing them slowly around the edge of deep water, eddy lines and the tail out of any pool.
The nymphing game is still fooling the biggest fish. Flows are now down to very wadeable levels so you can easily dredge the deepest of pools where most of the bigger fish are holding. When mayfly hatches start in late afternoon it’s time to switch to dries and soft hackles. When there aren’t many mayflies or feeding fish a parachute style dry usually works better than the dry version. Parachutes sit in the film of the water instead of on the film making them an easier target. Major hatches should kick in any day now. We have always said mayflies, in the north country should be called June flies because they often don’t hatch in earnest until the beginning of June.
Trout ponds on the other hand are in full bloom. This is without a doubt one of the best dry fly times of the season. Hatches begin in mid-day and trout feed on them all afternoon. This is the time of season when you can actually hunt a trout. When you spot a fish taking a mayfly you’ll likely see him eat another not far away then another in the same line. All you need to do is lead him a few feet and lay your fly out ahead of the cruising fish and it’ll probably make your fly it’s next meal. It’s great fun and this is the time of season you can get it done.
At the West Branch of the Penobscot fish have moved up and are now throughout the river for the Eddy to the Deadwater. It’s mayfly time there as well.
Just remember this when fishing moving water during mayfly season “A good drift is better than a good cast”. Mayflies drift downstream naturally and on top of the surface film while their wings dry before they can take to flight. If your imitation has any drag what-so-ever fish will likely ignore it. It’s not natural. Also, you only have to make a ten foot drag free drift to catch a fish. And when you spot a feeding fish there is no rush to drift your fly over that fish. We have put feeding fish on the clock more times than I can remember and more often than not it takes a fish 2-4 minutes to get back to the bottom, finish eating and return to that sweet spot where it starts looking to the surface again for another morsel. We often wait until we see the same fish eat a few times before making a move. If you take your time and get to know a fish before you make a move you’ll fool a lot more fish.
This is everyone’s favorite time of year. Finding a feeding fish and fooling that very fish into believing your fly came from nature and is something it needs to eat is what we hardcores live for. Late the other day a customer spotted one of the first feeding fish of this season. It took a couple fly changes but a PT Klinkhammer and a great drift fooled a beautiful 18” chrome silver salmon that roared around jumping a number of times before it came to our net. After a quick picture he said “What a way to end a trip!!” I’m sure he’s never going to forget that fish and the spot in the river where he first spotted it.
Have a great trip.