Archive for March 2013

Staying ahead of the hatch.   Leave a comment

Here we sit on the edge of Spring.  Sure, it’s officially spring, but don’t try to tell that to our rivers.  To the South Platte, it’s still winter fishing conditions; however, and this is a big however, the aquatic life is starting to get the itch. 

Soon, we will begin to hit arguably my favorite time of the year for fly fishing.  Historical hatches will start to come off, and the fish (rainbows), coming out of winter, will begin to spawn and eat.  Fish will set up in the riffles at a chance to hammer food as it quickly zips by.  When not in the riffs you’ll find them in food super hiways sweeping side to side.  To capitalize, you must stay ahead of the hatch.

I’m not talking simply about identyfing adult bugs and reverse engineering, I’m talking about catching fish now on what is about to hatch. Anyone can properly determine which stage of which bug to fish if he or she sees the adults. On my last trip, I counted one Blue Wing (BW) actually bouncing about as an adult.  Interestingly, we caught roughly 9 out of every 10 fish on a BW nymph, because I know that the BW’s are getting close to the historical time that they begin to hatch.

My assumptions mean that not only are the bugs looking to hatch soon, but the fish are also beginning to look for that bug to get active.  Whether it’s water temperatures, sun angles or pre-spawn activity, something is turning the fish onto the nymph stage of an expected hatch.  Use it to your benefit, and stay ahead of the hatch.  A size 20 Mercury Pheasant Tail was the ticket.

What about when the daily BW hatch hits, how do you stay ahead of that?  Most days you have a pretty good idea when the daily hatch will occur.  There are exceptions, especially on tailwaters, because of water levels, water temperatures, and weather conditions.  All of that aside, the bugs will hatch sometime, somewhere, on the river.  You just have to be prepared.

  I usually will begin the day nymphing with an emerger and nymph representation of what I expect to come off.  When I see the first adult, wham, I am switching to a couple emerger patterns below an attractor.  For the sake of brevity, if you know the life cycle of the mayfly, you can decide when to throw  a nymph, emerger, dun, spinner, or spent.  Same goes for caddis, stone flies and midges.  Learn the life-cyle, be prepared, and stay ahead of the hatch.

Couple thoughts on stone flies and caddis.  The last couple weeks, I have been picking up fish with stone fly nymphs.  Not because they are getting ready to hatch, but because they are molting.  Basically, they are shedding into larger skeletons and the “new” nymph is quite yellow.  Hence, we’re picking up fish on nymph representations that are yellow.  As for caddis (and midges too), they progress from nymphs to pupa.  Learning to fish the pupae patterns  at the proper time can reap huge benefits even in the middle of a huge hatch.
 
The more you know about life-cycles and fish behavior the better.  I go into this subject in much more detail in The Fly Fishers’ Playbook.  For now, work to stay ahead of the hatch.
 
mandytrout2
Here’s Mandy from last week.  We fished ahead of the hatch and picked up this beauty on a size 20 Mercury Pheasant Tail (Blue Wing nymph).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fear No Water,
Duane
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pick it!   Leave a comment

Hidy Ho good neighbors,

Little tardy with the post this week.  This time of year gets tough, in that, I am combining fly fishing, upland game, and speaking engagements into a 24 hour day.  Not complaining, but I will be happy when guiding pheasant hunts is over the end of this month.  By the way, I guide on a private ranch, so seasons are longer than public stuff. 

Had a couple great fly fishing trips last week.  The fishing has been good.  I really focused last week on working the angles with my clients.  By that I mean we worked runs effectively and efficiently utilizing typical depth, speed, profile, and color principles (D,S,P,C), but added in angles. 

All else being equal, a slight variation in a casting angle can change the presentation just enough to illicit a fish-eat.  It’s the next step in becoming a good nymph fly fisher.  The ability to pick or squeeze out the last bit of fish holding water can make all the difference in the world in the number of hook-ups.

Let’s say you’re fishing a run, have the D,S,P,C dialed in and feel as if you’ve picked the run apart perfectly.  Before you walk away, try to change angles.  I suggest subtle movements, left, right, forward, back, or a combination of those to fully cover the water.  You may have prefectly drifted a seam, but missed a feeding fish by mere inches.  Maybe the fish is swinging 6″ right and left, and you are drifting just outside that zone.  Since, you can’t be exactly sure where your bugs are throughout the entire drift, a simple angle change can make the difference.  Folks that fish with me will attest to this, it is amazing how many fish we pick up after a subtle angle change.  “If you change nothing, nothing changes”.

Also, I see clients continue to pound the same part of a seam, and every time they are hooking up on the same obstruction.  A subtle change will get you past that obstruction, and because of how fish hold around obstructions, it’s not unusual to catch a fish after an angle change by that very obstruction that was “in the way”.

In the picture I am posting about how to attack a bend, really look it over as to how to cover the bend completely.  What is left out is how to finish each stage by subtle angle changes, before moving to the next stage.  Just too hard to show graphically.  Look at it this way, after you’ve finished a stage, use your intuition to dictate to you what angle change is necessary to completely cover the run.  Sounds silly, but it works.

The longer you nymph fish with the same set-up, the more “intuitive” you become.  You begin to “see” your bugs underwater, and realize the angle change to finish the run.  It’s called angling for a reason. 

I explain this concept further in The Playbook, and will sometime post a video.  You may not catch fish in each run, but I promise you’ll walk away from it knowing you fished it well. For now, Fear No Water!  Thanks for dialing in.

Duane

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Presenting….   2 comments

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Hey Folks, 

Here’s a bow we hooked last week on a Pat’s Rubber Leg.  The Stone Fly nymphs are molting, and the fish are on them.

 

Last week I was priveledged to speak to another Trout Unlimited Chapter. The Cheyenne Mountain Chapter out of Colorado Springs is a very innovative and energetic group.  I look forward to tracking their progress. 

Next week, the 14th, I will be speaking to the Greenback Chapter of TU in Pueblo.  Road trip!  It is very humbling to stand in front of hard working, dedicated folks, and talk fly fishing.  My presentation deals with the restoration of Horse Creek, all the factors that negatively effect the Platte, and how to overcome them.  The ol South Platte is hard enough to guide day in and day out, but you factor in how Horse Creek impacts it, and you are staring a super finicky beast in the kisser.

That’s how The Fly Fishers Playbook was born.  It took a solid 5 years to develop the Playbook, and truth be told, it’s still evolving.   The Playbook was basically written before I ever hit a key.  I kept a journal for every minute I spent on that river.  After a couple years I began to see that I could systematically progress thru options to get to fish.  In other words, I stopped guessing as to what to do next, and began to filter thru the next best method to attack the river.  It was a blast to write.

Why am I writing about this?  I started writing the book 2 years ago March 5th, so I’m feeling a bit nostalgic.  Also, the book has opened several doors.  I’ve met some fantastic people presenting, doing book signings, podcasts, and of course on the river. 

I’m really considering beginning another book.   I’ve an outline cooking, but need to work out some details.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to speak to whatever group that will have me.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings.  Here’s another picture as payment….

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Fear No Water,

Duane