Cabin fever has forced you out into the sleet, snow, and rain to cast tiny midges or blue wings at finicky trout. But soon the warm glow of spring will be upon us and happy, hungry fish will be beckoning you to the streams and lakes they inhabit. Besides getting your fly boxes organized and some of your favorite bugs tied here are a few things to think about when you head out this spring.
Watch Where You Wade And Fish
The longer days and warmer water temperatures trigger Rainbow trout to start their spawning cycle. These fish move into spots that have gravel bottoms and a steady, soft current to dig their reds. Easy to spot and wade, it is tempting for fly fishermen to wade and fish these spawning areas.
Don’t be seduced by The Darkside because you see the two of the largest trout that you have ever seen in a foot of water right in front of you. Leave these amorous fish to their spawning duties undisturbed. Stressing spawning trout has been proven to impact the survival of the fish post-spawn, as well as thorough egg fertilization. Wading through the spawning areas destroys reds, stresses fish, and ultimately reduces the number of Rainbow trout that will be available in the future for you to catch. Don’t be tempted to drift an egg pattern or bead through these aggressive, easy to catch fish. It is bad form and bad for the health of your fishery.
Sunshine and rising trout are a combination that makes anglers go out of their minds. Recently I was fishing to a rising trout that was somewhat spooky. Out of nowhere, two fly fishermen walked down the riverside within three feet of the trout that was gorging on Blue Wings. The fish left as I heard; “Wow! That was a big trout!”
I just reeled up and as I left I said; “You must want to fish here.”
They were indignant and oblivious as to why I said what I said. Remember to give other anglers their space.
Even if the fish are schooled up in one spot, don’t horn it. If you think you are going to be fishing too close to another fisherman; you are probably. A big smile and some communication will go a long way to keeping everyone happy on the stream and in the lake. Just ask if the person minds if you fish close by and you will feel better and the other angler won’t try to sink your Stone Fly with a rock.
Watch, Wait, and Adapt
Be patient with the trout. Spring is an unsettled season and hatches and fish are just as unsettled. Take a few minutes when you arrive at the water you intend to fish to observe what is going on around you. Often I don’t even string my rod up until I get to the river bank or the boat anchored up. Watching what is going on around you like bird activity, wind speed, water temperature, watercolor, and sun/shade cycles when it partly cloudy out are just a few things that will impact Brown and Rainbow trout activity. I am sure I am leaving something out, but you get the gist. Try something new or something out of your comfort zone if the fish are cooperating.
If you are nymphing try letting the flies swing at the end of your drift, put some movement on your dry fly, dead drift a woolly bugger, or anything else that might seem unintuitive or a bad technique. It just might work. Once I was in the middle of a huge Skwala hatch where the fish were going crazy, except for my flies. After an hour of frustration, I tied on an ant pattern that was half the size of the hatching stoneflies. I cast it out and got a good dead drift and nothing happened until I started to strip my line in. On the first strip of line, my tiny ant was crushed by a hungry trout. For the rest of the day, I fished that little ant-like a Bass Popper and caught fish after fish.
Fly fishing in the spring is more about getting the cobwebs out of your head than getting the dust off of your gear.