The highly anticipated Drakes (Hexes) are finally beginning to show. The West Branch ponds and Big Lyford are perennial favorites. There’s easy access, lots of eager brookies and liberal laws so folks can take a few for the frying pan. Some of the more remote higher elevation ponds should also begin any day. Most have fewer fish with tighter regulations but have the potential of producing much larger fish. Wherever you choose be sure to bring your sinking line so you can fish a maple syrup along the bottom before the hatch begins. Once drakes hatches are in full swing fish begin cruising coves where hatches happen looking for these mud nymphs as they crawl out of the mud and head for the surface to hatch. Drag your nymph along the bottom before the real ones start to emerge and you should start to see some action long before the main event.
Case in point… As I’m typing this, a gentleman came in the shop, who was on a trout pond last evening waiting for the drake hatch. The hatch didn’t begin until after sunset but they watched a couple other guys catching fish long before the hatch started while they weren’t getting any action on their dries. Once the hatch started they did do well on dries. He said they looked like they were fishing something subsurface and if I might know what they were using. I rest my case.
Now for moving water…rattle any riverside alder and you’ll likely cause a storm of displaced caddis looking for another leaf to lite on. There will be tan body caddis, brown body caddis, olive body and even a few black body caddis. They’ll range in size from 12 to 18. One fish wants the size12 olive body caddis, another will only eat a size 14 brown body caddis, and the biggest fish in the river may have an appetite for a size 18 black body caddis. And that is just for starters. If you watch the water for feeding fish you’ll see fish picking bugs off the surface but you’ll see just as many swirls, which indicate fish feeding subsurface. Those fish have an appetite for crippled caddis. And so it goes, you can only hope what worked yesterday will work again today but you know that may not be the case and you begin cycling through what you have seen when you rattled those alders. We as guides use the process of elimination in order to figure fish out. First in line on the leader is likely going to be an elk wing caddis of some body color. Then we’ll tie on a caddis emerger as a dropper about two feet beyond the dry that lies on its side in the surface film. That way we cover two potential feeding activities. Ideally the first pair work but if we are fishing over feeding fish or water where we know fish are holding and no one makes an attempt to eat our offering we’ll begin cycling through what is in season and what we believe is the next caddis species on the ever changing menu. And if that’s not enough on another rod we’ll fashion a set of soft hackle wet flies… partridge and olive, partridge and orange or the current favorite fish food, a Nancy’s Prayer. These small, size 12-16 wet flies are fished just under the surface and often get a lot of attention simply because they are an easier tidbit for fish to sip.
This time of season our policy is, if it’s not interesting fish change it. Fish can be fooled you just have to find the right fly. Once you do you’ll bring your share of fish to net. And don’t forget to twitch your dries about. The twitch is a biggie that convinces fish to make the trip to the surface for a snack.
Cheeseburger season is about to go into full swing. A couple days ago Golden Stones began show in good numbers. What that means is fish will begin coming to the surface for big dries, flies you can easily see… Stimulators, Tarantulas, and Bugmeisters soon be on the menu.
Have a great time on the water.