June 20, 2019
We have been talking caddis for some time now. Maybe tomorrow, then tomorrow will be the day, then todays the day. This went on for a while. Then the day came and that day was yesterday June 19th when bright green-bodied caddis hit the scene as well as dark brown and tan caddis, a nice way to begin caddis season. Two day ago there wasn’t a caddis to be seen but we still teased fish to the surface all day but nothing over 16”. Bigger fish wouldn’t come to the surface after one tiny caddis flirting about on the surface. Yesterday that all changed when there were lots of caddis bouncing about. The small fish must have been hiding because we saw few fish under 18”. In the morning big salmon meant business. The takes were deliberate and most takes ended with a bent rod. It’s a beautiful sight when you get to watch a salmon or trout start up from the bottom with your fly in its crosshairs. It’s what we wait for each season. It’ll be dries all day long for days on ends. But they don’t always come easy. At times there will be a number of different caddis species hatching at the same time. Species overlap and one fish wants one species and another wants something different.
Feeding fish are often after crippled caddis drifting on the surface, or caddis bouncing about trying to take to flight, or dead adults in the film of the water, and even emerging caddis. The trick is figuring out what exactly are fish feeding on and how they want your caddis imitation presented.
One sure fire way to get a fishes’ attention during caddis hatches is by twitching your bug just a bit as it drifts along on the surface. Make your best cast, mend your line if needed then keep your rod tip high and flip the tip slightly every now and then so your fly scoots an inch or two as it drifts downstream. It’s that tiny scoot that convinces a fish it needs to eat it. We’ve watched crippled caddis flopping about along with hundreds of motionless caddis and it’s the cripples that get eaten every time. Also at the end of the drift skip your fly back upstream 5-10’ then dead drift it back over the same water. If you pick your fly off the water and dead drift it back over the same water they will often ignore it. The SKIP gets the fishes’ attention and the drift back that gets the fish.
Also a splashy rise often indicates a fish going for a caddis as it becomes an adult just under the surface. Pay attention to where the splash was. There is probably a rock just beneath the spot. That fish is always in a sweet spot right under the splash. Try skipping your fly over that spot a few time and you’ll probably fool the fish into making a grab for your caddis imitation.
If you spot fish just making a boil of water and no splash they are likely feeding on crippled caddis in the film of the water. These are fish you want to swing a soft hackle by, the slower the swing the better your chances. Cast 45 degrees drown stream and across the current then mend upstream to slow down the swing. We fool some of our biggest fish swinging soft hackle wets just under the surface.
Drake (Hex) season is just around the corner. Everything is happening a little later than usual this season so probably expect the drake to be a bit late as well. A few hot days could bring things back in line. We have always said “If you plan your vacation around Drake hatches the week of the 4th of July is a good bet. Hatches are always happening somewhere around then, we’ll keep you posted.
The photo is of Tom Mackey, winner of this years, Bangor Daily, Win a Drift Boat trip with John Holyoke and Dan. Tom took his game to another level and fooled a number of nice fish ending his day with a great drift of his caddis to a feeding fish, which he is proudly holding in the photo. We all had a lot of laughs and a wonderful day on the East Outlet of the Kennebec.
It’s a grand time on season to be on the water chasing feeding fish. Hatches have every fish looking up on both moving or still waters. There are lots of smiling faces in the fly fishing community.
See you on the water.