Like the title says, you can find my latest piece in the March 2021 issue of The Fisherman magazine. Early Season Tactics: Hunting Transition Trout is about the rough patch of fishing we face in the next month or so. It’s loaded with useful strategies and tactics to help you catch more fish, and includes a guest appearance from UpCountry Sportfishing‘s Torrey Collins. You can read the article here.
Quality content like this usually isn’t free; The Fisherman is kind enough to allow public access to the article. Why not support them with a subscription? You can do that here. Many thanks to my editor, Toby Lapinski, for giving me the opportunity to write about fly fishing subjects that matter.
Presentation is so important — the only thing that’s more important is a sharp hook — that I thought I would share some of the critical points from last’s night’s Zoom. Thanks to everyone who attended — we had a great turnout. In no particular order:
The wrong fly presented correctly will always out fish the right fly presented incorrectly. I showed a video that demonstrated this.
When you’re deciding on which line, leader length and size, and fly pattern, ask this question: What do you want the fly to do? The best answer should reflect what the fish are eating and how they’re eating it.
Fly fishing is all about line control, and a floating line gives you, by far, the most control over your presentation in current. The importance of mending cannot be overstated. Even slight, nearly imperceptible mends that produce a more natural drift can mean the difference between fishing and catching.
A sinking line and a weighted fly are usually a poor choice for catching fish feeding near the surface. Would you toss a Tungsten cone head Woolly Bugger to trout feeding on Hendrickson emergers?
A longer leader will give you a better dry fly drift, and allow you to make more mends without disturbing the natural track of the fly.
“The difference between fishing and catching is a single split shot.” Attributed to Joe Humphries. Regardless of the originator, it’s good advice when you’re nymphing. Adjust your weight to get the most productive drift.
You can be in the right place and the right time with the right fly. But if your presentation is off, you can still blank. Presentation is everything — that’s our mantra for this Currentseams Tuesday Night Zoom. If you haven’t been getting the Zoom links — I send them out Tuesday late afternoon — please check your spam box. See you then!
I had to change the time of the class to 3:30 p.m., so I thank everyone who signed up for being so flexible. We’re going to be tying “Favorite Nymphs,” proven patterns that get a lot of action when I’m in the mood to go low and slow. There’s still time to join us if you like; the cost is $10 and you register by sending me the fee through PayPal. See you at 3:30.
I fish the way I want to fish, and sometimes that means I go fishless. I’m OK with that. When it lines up, I may be doing battle with multiple high-teens browns. When it’s a day like yesterday, I get the not-a-touch trudge through the snow back to my car, wondering if my feet will ever be warm again.
Not that I’m complaining. I had a blast. Due to the inclement weather, angler activity was almost at its Farmington River-winter-ten-years-ago level. You still can’t access the majority of dirt pull-offs (they’re currently snowplow pile pull-offs) so you’re stuck with the major parking areas. That didn’t prevent me from going for a walk to find solitude. I fished three marks within the Permanent TMA (no slush, 370cfs). I started off tight-lining jig mini-streamers, but that was a problem with the 24-degree air temp; frozen beads of river clinging to the exposed leader. So I switched locations and did the traditional full-sink line. I did catch a lot of the bottom. Sadly, it never fought back.
Then, I decided to experiment. What would happen if I fished the mini-jig under an indicator? I could bounce it along the bottom, or suspend it near the bottom. I had one of my bigger home-brew yarn indicators with me, so I re-rigged and had at it. I tried it in different kinds of water, from fast-moving glides to languid dry-fly pools. In the faster water, I had to constantly check the indicator upstream and mend to prevent the fly from moving too quickly, but the rig proved to be the answer to the iced-up leader problem. Just because I didn’t connect doesn’t mean it won’t work on another day. More research to come…and I encourage you to try new things when you’re on the river.
Thanks to the Ottawa Flyfishers, I am now officially an internationally-known fly fishing speaker. We had a most excellent time last night via Zoom. I talked for an hour about “The Little Things,” my original presentation in the series, that can make a big difference in your fishing success. We did Q&A — I love Q&A — for a few more minutes, then wrapped it up with social pleasantries. A wonderful group of dedicated, enthusiastic anglers. Thank you very much!
Kenney’s in the house! Ken Abrames is doing a series of talks on YouTube: “Kenney Abrames begins a video talk series with this short audio where he discusses his connection with nature.” I know as much about it as you do at this point. I have not yet listened to the first but I’m sure it will be loaded with keen observations. You can find the first talk here.
Finally, I had to switch the time for this Saturday’s “Favorite Nymphs” Zoom tying class to 3:30 p.m. There’s still room if you want to attend. Once again, the day is the same, Saturday, February 20, and the new start time is 3:30pm. The cost is $10 and you register by sending me the fee through PayPal. This also seems like a good time to thank those already enriolled in the class for being so gracious when I had to change the time. I’m lucky to have so many good people who are part of this website!
Shelf ice can be a problem when you’re out on a river — NEVER walk across shelf ice — but it can also be a difference maker when it comes to catching, especially on a river like the Farmington. The Farmington River has hatches of W/S (Winter/Summer) caddis. These bugs emerge, then scoot across the surface of the water towards the shore to mate. Trout know this — not in a cognitive sense, but rather in a programmed-by-nature way. If the water is deep enough, and there’s enough current, you can often find Farmington River trout hanging out near bankside structure in winter, especially ice shelves.
That makes these areas a priority target when I’m winter streamer fishing. If I find an ice shelf over deeper, moving water, I like to pound that water with my bugs. Sometimes I’ll even land the streamer onto the ice shelf, then gently pull it off into the water. The trout will tell you if they want the presentation to be a dead drift, slow retrieve, fast(er) retrieve, or swing.
You can’t really see it in this video, but I’m actually landing my streamer on top of an ice shelf that extends several feet off the bank. On this day, the only hits I had came from using this tactic.
I have a private gig with the Ottawa Fly Fishers tomorrow night, so no public Zoom. We’ll go for normal resumption of services (I like the way that sounds) on Tuesday Feb. 23. In the meantime, I’d like to hear from you. What subjects would you like me to talk about? If I see something that looks like it has wide appeal — and it’s something I feel comfortable talking about, I’ll certainly consider it. Last week’s Small Stream talk was well-attended, so I many do another variation on that theme. The ball’s in your court.
Busy-busy-busy is the word around currentseams headquarters these days. I’m pleased to announce that I have a couple projects in the works for Field & Stream. Both are striped bass related. The first is how to make a best fishing days striper calendar; the second on lessons that striper fly anglers can glean from surfcasters. I’ll let you know when they come out and how you can read them. But since I have not yet taken fingers to keyboard, off I go to my lonely writer’s garret…