Action! At Last Light. Stack the deck in your Favor!
Have you ever truly realized the potential of flyfishing in low light conditions? Large trout have a tendency to feed more actively in dim conditions. The cover of darkness is a great way for trout to avoid predators and take advantage of food sources that becomes available under these conditions. These food sources can be comprised of various mayfly spinners in a whole array of sizes. Some spinners can come in very small sizes and can be hard to spot lying flat on the water so keep your eyes peeled and look at the water closely if you are not sure of their presence. Some mayflies hatch right into darkness and patterns that imitate them are excellent pattern choices. Take Isonychia for example, the duns can continue to emerge right into total darkness and throughout the night. I love to fish these bad boys in size 10-12 after dusk while listening to the fish come up and sip well into nightfall. Sipping trout actually make a slurping sound when feeding. Listening is a very effective way of detecting strikes in this night game.
Low light conditions also eliminate many obstacles between fishermen and the feeding trout. First it allows you to use much larger tippet sizes because of the low visibility. The increased breaking strength of a heavier tippet is always handy when trying to land larger trout. Next, fish aren’t as easily spooked by your flyline and leader landing near them. As they feed on naturals and the light decreases, they are comforted by a darkened sky and the natural presence of fewer fishermen. Many have already left the water when the action starts ramping up. Fish typically develop a rhythm of picking off insects as they float in the drift. At times the feeding frenzy can be furious leaving them vulnerable to a well placed fly.
This low light condition is not specific to nighttime, it also applies to early morning when the sun hasn’t fully risen. Fish can feed heavily on spinners in the early morning hours, creating a wonderful opportunity to get on some heavy fish. Many trout cruise pocket water and back eddies during early morning hours slurping up spinners and any insects left from the night before. There’s nothing like leftovers! Some types of Caddis become active in the morning causing trout to opportunistically feed on Caddis larvae and pupae during the wee hours of the morning. These make excellent fly choices.
Often large trout cannot be seen sipping insects from long distances as the light recedes or reappears, causing many fly fisherman to overlook a subtle take from a large trout or simply not see them feeding at all. Don’t let this happen to you. When darkness moves in or the sun is far from rising over the mountains, move quietly and slowly to feeding trout. The goal being to perfectly present your fly at shorter distances with laser like precision; Meanwhile staying ever keen using your other senses to detect the presence of nearby gently sipping trout. The next time your on the water and the sun is on its way up or down put this logic to good use and take away the trouts instinctive advantages over you. With a little luck you will put a few more trout in your net. Good luck!
Hatches (in order of importance): Sulphurs 14-18 March Brown/Grey Fox 12-14, Isonychia 10-12, Winter/summer Caddis 18-22, Tan and Green Caddis 16-20.
Comments: Early am the winter/summer caddis have been driving trout bonkers causing them to line the banks and softer water snatching pupae that are swimming toward shore, I prefer to fish Dave Goulet’s foam pupae skittering down and across the current. Mid afternoon and evening have been frantic with Sulphurs, Caddis, Isonychia, BWO’s, Potomantis, and a few March Browns. When the hatches get frantic like this it can be a frustrating time if you are waiting for a specific hatch. Stay focused and hone your powers of observation by finding a few fish and watching them closely for clues as to what they are feeding on. When watching trout feeding be mindful of escaping insects, and rise forms to help you put the pieces of the puzzle together. Fish aren’t taking your dry imitation? Tie a dropper off your dry to imitate the emerger. Switch your flies frequently until you can match the hatch. Rusty Spinners in larger sizes such as 12-14 are putting some of our bigger trout on the line in the late evenings. As far as nymphing we have been catching lots of nice trout during the am Caddis hatch on simple yellow Caddis larvae patterns. There is a strong population of Golden Stoneflies in various sizes my favorite are size 12 and 6. These flies always produce fish for us. I have personally been using the French Nymphing tactics to target some specific hatches with great success. If you have started using this technique don’t be afraid to use those hatch specific wet flies on the top of your brace. We have been putting a bunch of fish in the net in the afternoons by positioning Sulphur wets as a dropper on our brace of flies. I am planning to trying this same thing with Isonychias which are a much bigger insect and food source for trout. These larger insects seldom pass without large trout noticing in my opinion. Whether your voice is hoarse from screaming obscenities at the trout or shouting “Fish on!” have a good week and enjoy our wonderful Farmington River.
Hatches (in order of importance): March Brown Spinners and Duns 12-14 in the evening, Smaller Rusty Spinners are also on the water in the evening in 16-20. Winter/Summer Caddis 18-22. BWO’s 16-20 on cloudy days. Tan and GreenCaddis 16-18 are appearing on the water all afternoon and throughout the evening. There have also been Sulphurs 16-18 on the water in the early evening through to sunset.
Vanessa with a small Farmington River Brown.
Comments: I have been taking most of my fish on Caddis nymphs in the morning, fished French Nymphing style through deep cuts with a little current, leaving no seam unturned. This style has been producing a lot of nice fish for me and gives an alternative way to fish when the water is unsuited for dry flies. Not surprisingly these same areas hold many of the rivers larger trout. Another method that is just giving me great results is fishing big #12 Rusty Spinners at the very last light. There have been a lot of fish feeding on much smaller spinner in the 16 range as well however the trout just seem as though they cannot refuse such a large morsel of food. I have seen a large number of BWO’s on the water in the evening with some fish taking them along with their small spinners. I have heard from a few people now, that Cahills are making their entrance in the Upper TMA. Caddis continue to be a consistent morning hatch and they keep many fish on the river rising throughout the evening as well. I just got back from a trip to Maine to visit my family and I am working on a little excursion video that I will post in a few days, until then good luck to all who venture forth in the forecasted thunder storms this weekend and remember to play it safe, no fish is worth getting killed by a stray bolt of lightning. If you do find yourself out in such conditions the fishing can be wonderful especially if you like to fish with nymphs! There is nothing like fishing a brace of Caddis on a rainy day, even when the water becomes stained and slightly off fish continue to feed on this underwater smorgasbord. Lets hope the weather holds off and we here at JWFlyfishing, See you out there!
Hatches (in order of importance): March Brown Spinners 12-14 and Rusty Spinners 16-20 are falling in the evening. March Browns/Grey Fox 12-14 are starting to show. Winter/Summer Caddis 18-22 have been coming off the water early and making some great sunrise action. Blue Wing Olives 16-20 have been blowing up the river on cloudy, cool days. Tan Caddis 16-18, and Green Caddis 16-20 are hatching from Collinsville to Riverton and the fish are spending a great deal of time taking these in the evening right up until dark. A few Vitreus & Sulphurs have been seen on the river.
Comments: This past weekend I had an absolute great time fishing with my brother in law on the Famington River. I absolutely enjoy each chance I get to take a family member out on the river, it really makes me feel good to get out there with others and see their face flood with happiness as they set the hook into a nice fish.The first evening was a great confidence builder as we knocked some of the rust off his casting. We took a few smaller browns on some caddis emerger patterns and finished the night off with a rusty spinner which was turning fish left and right. The next morning with his skills looking a great deal better he got in a wrestling match with a nice Farmington Brown. I shouted instructions like a drill sargeant as he landed the fish. When we were done I was glad that he is an understanding and tolerant person. I apologized and congratulated him on a super nice catch.The caddis and spinners work wonderful for us this weekend as we relaxed and enjoyed the scenic Farmington River. We took fish on both dries and french and spanish nymphing. Fishing with family is a great way to have some fun and always seems to have a great ending. A weekend filled with great food, great company, and some great flyfishing on the Farmington River.
Who could ask for more? Nymphing has been producing some nice fish. Caddis larvae in just about any color has been getting it done in 12-16, I suggest green or brown as these are the most common colors that I see in my seine.
Hatches (in order of importance): Winter summer Caddis am 18-22.
March Browns/Grey Fox 12-14 are coming off in small numbers in the afternoon.
Hendrickson spinners 12-14 and Rusty Spinners 16-20 are still catching lots of fish in the evenings.
BWO’s 16-20 are coming off the water in the evening as well as…
Tan Caddis 16-18 and Green Caddis in 16-20.
Comments: The Caddis in my mind are still very much stealing the show with a good showing in the A.M. and with another good burst of bigger Caddis in the evening right before dark causing many trout to feed exclusively on them and chasing and slashing furiously at the emergers. Violent and splashy rises are the telltale sign of this activity. I have been catching good amounts of quality fish in the morning and evening fishing Caddis larvae as well. I was so excited the other night I actually caught a nice 18″ Brown on my first ever woven fly a size 12 Caddis Larva green on the top and yellow on the underbody. The Rusty Spinner is still landing some nice fish in the evenings even if you don’t see tons of them around, so don’t be afraid to tie one of these bad boys on your leader in a size 12. This is a good meal for a trout feeding in low light conditions. French nymphing has been a huge part of my arsenal of late accounting for some very nice browns and is one of those things that really turns unproductive time on the river into some dynamite fishing opportunities. Next time its raining and spinnerfalls are suppressed due to chilly temps. Don’t mope! Start getting familiar with this technique and put it into play for you on the river! Good luck out there, tear em up!