In the last few days major caddis hatches began on all our rivers. Yesterday one species of green-bodied caddis hatched the entire length of the East Outlet. Where does that signal come from? We know water temperature plays a role while other factors still remain a mystery. It’s quite a spectacle to witness. Waves of caddis drift down the river. Those that manage to take to flight are blow by the wind. Caddis shucks, like tiny pieces of onion skin, fill every back eddy. Fish are seen feeding for a while but soon disappear full with caddis. As we dropped from pool to pool we found a couple fish casually feeding of spent caddis in the film of the water. They’ll let dozens of caddis go by before picking out one to eat. Just about everything we offered is refused before they stop rising so we leave fish to find fish. It’s the one day each season when the angler becomes the observer and not the participant. Even the experienced angler is humbled.
Thankfully late in the day after the hatch begins to wind down we found fish actively feeding in a back eddy and with the tiniest caddis in our box we manage to boat a brookie and a salmon before the pool goes quiet.
The day after this once a year event we’ll get back to the business of fooling feeding fish once again. Caddis will be hatching everyday but not in staggering numbers that last all day. There’ll be less food on the water so fish tend to feed throughout the day. And for the next few days the only bug we’re going to need is a bright green-bodied caddis, it’s pupa and a soft hackle. The trick is figuring out which one they want. When you spot a feeding fish don’t rush in, sit back and watch for a bit. Follow bugs drifting with the current. If fish grab them from the surface the obvious choice is the dry but if you only see a swirl at the surface fish have keyed on the cripples in the film. If you witness splashy rises fish are probably focused on the emerging caddis as they become adults just below the surface. Pay special attention to cripple caddis bouncing about on the surface trying to take to fight. When fish are in the mood for dancing caddis they don’t want a drag-free drift as is the case with mayflies. You’ll need to skip your dry about on the surface in order to seal the deal. The same goes for egg laying caddis that are dropping an egg every time they hit the water.
So caddis season is in full swing once again and lasts well into July with species constantly changes. Make sure to rattle the alders to find out what’s current. If you watch foam lines you shouldn’t have much trouble finding feeding fish. When you do, sit back and observe their feeding activity them formulate a game plan. There is nothing like fooling a fish into believing your tiny fly came from nature and it’s something they need in they belly. At times it seems as though you are pulling a rabbit out of a hat. It’s what all of us addicted fly anglers live for.