Monday, August 17, 2015
August Basics : How The Tough Get Going.
Mid August is a very real thing right now. The glory days of early summer are a fond memory and the bonanza of fall hatches have yet to materialize. The river keeps trucking right along but the finned critters within hold their appetites and wait for tastier fare. Too smokey to hike, too smokey to bike, too smokey to kick the fútbol around. Gotta go to the river. How to catch the fish right now requires a few key refinements in the flyfishermans approach to keep fish hitting the net.
Be The Early Bird:
I am not an early morning person as anyone who knows me will tell you. First light is not a light I see often. Nor am I a fisherman who gets wrapped up in being first boat on the water everyday. An extra pot of tea and a stop at the flyshop before hitting the river is my preferred speed.
Right now, however, even I recognize the necessity of hitting the river early. The wee morning hours are a flyfishermans best friend: Morning water temperatures are coming down to their lowest point around 5am before their gradual daily climb. All the old hat guides know this and the fish know it too. More comfortable for the trouts to move around and hunt. The low light angle of early morning makes the big ones less wary too, no penetrating afternoon sun to x-ray them for the ospreys. The last dregs of summer mayflies are hatching around this time along with the blizzard clouds of Tricos on the lower river, giving the fish something to think about for breakfast. Got to eat a lot of these tiny bugs to make a meal, meaning you get more than one chance to get the drift right. Don't count on the good times to last though: These bugs are gone by 11am. Get out and get that dryfly action when the fish let you, move on to other projects by afternoon.
Be The Outlier:
Why do you think people love spring Skwala season so much? Its because the fish are famished and they haven't seen fake flies in months. Anything green and #8 will do. By this late point in the fishing season, however, the trout have seen a lot of different patterns presented in a lot of different ways.
Different Ways: Swung, stripped, plopped, dropped, drug, skated, ripped, hand-lined, land-lined, and . . . .. perfectly dead-drifted. Again and again.
From the giant foam stonefly patterns to the ultra sneaky dropper brigade they have seen quite a frickin few flies. Sometimes the tried and true patterns will get the big fish to eat and sometimes they won't. Factor in mid-summer low water and hot afternoon temperatures and you have the recipe for lots of refusals. Everybody is fishing hoppers, lazy fishing guides like me (sometimes) and weekend warrior types too. Fish an ant or a beetle instead to those sneaky undercut banks instead. Fish a single #18 Hares Ear instead of hanging it from a hopper. Be the one fly the fish haven't seen that day and they will usually be happier to cooperate.
Mid summer means the river is in its low-water main channel and the runs / pools / fishy spots are pretty damm evident. That doesn't mean you should just plop your fly right in the gut of the run and wait for a fish to attack it. When the fish are in mid-summer full-tilt feeding frenzy they are often moving a long way out of their lie to get your drift. Trust me, I look for fish every day and I see where they come from. Not so much right now. The little fish might move around like normal but the big guys are conserving energy and waiting for something to come directly overhead. Spend some time and really look at where the prime spot is and make sure you are getting good drifts in this spot. "Less searching, more shooting" is how I phrase it for clients. When looking for good fish you are not fishing the whole run anymore, you are fishing a 2 x 2 zone in the prime part of the lie. Make your casts here and Make your casts count. Which leads me into sub-point #1
#1 Be A First Cast Killer:
As with most thing the most important rule is last. If you want that big sneaky Rainbow to come eat your fly, make sure your first cast is the best cast. Wade softly. Get the right amount of line out initially. Powder your fly. Don't false cast directly over your fish. Reach cast the first time, not the 10th. Pressured fish will not give you three chances to catch em', you will get one and only one. And the first cast should be that one.
Go out and get em'!