Sometimes, it all comes together with fly fishing. You miraculously find stretches of water devoid of anglers, the hatches trundle forward and overlap so that you always have magical dry-fly action, and catching wild fish suddenly seems so easy and effortless.
That didn’t happen to me on Saturday.
No, we’re still seeing incredible traffic at our rivers because many anglers are still under-employed or unemployed, unfortunately. This means plenty of bait and fly anglers at all major waters. It also means that the fish have been getting pounded, and the bright sun and low water only make them more paranoid. Sadly, we are already in a semi-drought phase here in New England. The good folks at Tall Timber Lodge report that the salmon run didn’t really happen this spring, as the water has been too low to draw the smelt and the salmonids up river. I hear that Maine is facing very low water as well.
I started moving hoses around to get them all in place for the next few months. As of now looks like another dry and warm pattern. This is the 30-day forecast precip anomaly. Official drought will be returning to a town near you if this verifies. pic.twitter.com/3vWyyk1Ffo
— Dave Epstein (@growingwisdom) May 18, 2021
Saturday was a weird day for me. It was another 12-hour shift with no lunch break, as I worked four spots as thoroughly as possible. Two stretches involved a lot of casting, rotating through many flies, and zero hits. Two other spots offered 30 to 60 minutes of absolute bedlam apiece, with a 19″ brown as the best of the bunch. At one run, small streamers from afar were the flies of choice for some reason, with olive and black as the best colors. At the other decent spot, a myriad of pupae imitations did well on the swing (again from afar) during a Caddis hatch. Then, once those bite windows shut, it was back to casting practice for me.
I noticed something last year during the peak of the pandemic and as our rivers became clogged: fish were there but were not opportunistic eaters like in prior years. And, I did better the further away I was from fishy areas. My hunch is that the river defends itself, and the trout learn to take fewer chances once they’ve been pounded over and over. I see this when fish move to the B waters to avoid anglers. I’m guessing here, but many are probably shifting to feeding at night when they can. I think trout adapt very well and balance risk-reward ratios innately. So, due to an abundance of caution, they’re hunkered down except during a hatch or when they feel anglers are not around.
My two cents? If you tightline, learn the French-style technique that uses long leaders because I think Czech-style short-lining isn’t going to be as productive. Stay on the bank, if you can. Swing streamers and wets from a distance. Throw long, dry-fly leaders downstream of you and feed line down to the fish. All this is what I’m prepared to do in the coming weeks. Basically, take whatever technique I use and add distance between me and the fish. Be more stealthy.
Regardless, Saturday was a fun outing. I at long last fished with my new Thomas and Thomas Contact 2, and it was everything other anglers had told me: a joy to fish. I’ll take it out for a few more spins before writing a review.
And, in a few weeks, most of our blog team will be fishing in Maine! Stay tuned….