03/28/09

Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives (Baetis) - sparse hatches
2. Blue Quills - hatching
3. Quill Gordons - hatching
4. Hendricksons - could start any day now - nymphs are important
5. Little Black Caddis - hatching
6. Little Brown Stoneflies - hatching
7. Midges - hatching in isolated locations
8. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish

Special Report
As it says on our "articles" page, I don't like fishing reports very much. You can
read the reasons why there. During the past several days we have received a lot of
email. Some of it had to do with anglers not having the success they anticipated.
We have also talked to some anglers in the park that were not doing well. Only one
guy we met stated that he was catching a lot of trout.

We have fished five of the last seven days and almost that much the week before.
One day we only fished for only about an hour late in the day. We caught the least
number of fish (we only fish one at a time) that day we caught and that was five
trout, all rainbows. The other four days out of the last seven, we fished from 2 to 6
hours depending on the day. We managed two browns that were over twelve inches
including one around fourteen inches and they came on a dry fly. The least number
we caught those five days was five on the one hour day. I don't like quoting
numbers but just let me say we caught more than that the other days. To put it
bluntly, fishing has been about as easy as you can expect it to get. If you were not
catching trout during the last couple of weeks, you just were not doing things the
right way. It is as simple as that. It has nothing to do with the conditions or location.
We fished several different streams on both sides of the park. It was hard to tell any
difference anywhere we fished.

I don't know why the guys that sent email didn't catch trout because I don't have
any details on how they fished. I do know the problem with the guys I talked to in the
park (all but one). They had one main problem. They didn't know anything about
the insects hatching, they had just heard they were hatching. They were just
tossing flies. Most of the time they were using tandem rigs. That reduces your odds
sometimes, depending on the hatch, to a huge extent. The phase "Two is better
than one" sounds good but when the insects are hatching that is not a good way to
fish. You are much better off fishing flies that imitate the insects at the stage of the
hatches occurring. For example, one guy was fishing a size 16 Blue Quill, Catskill
style fly. Number one, that is too large. A size 16 fly is quite a bit larger than a size
18 and the Blue Quills average from a 18 to a 20. Number two, he was fishing it in
the fast water runs where there would be few if any Blue Quill duns. He had no idea
where, when or how they hatched. Every one (six or seven during the last few days)
I talked to quit fishing before any spinners fell. I didn't ask but I doubt any of them
know what a spinner is. Quite frankly, they would be much happier if they fished a
stocked tailwater.

Just because conditions are excellent doesn't mean you are necessarily
going to catch trout.
Lately, if the water had a good number of Quill Gordons
hatching (around 2:00 to 3:00 PM) and the water was fairly warm, most guys were
able to catch trout fishing the riffles and runs with dries. If the water was cool, in the
forties, they didn't for the most part. If the blue quill were hatching, most of them
didn't catch trout because they fished in the wrong types of water with the wrong
flies. I saw one guy with a big brown adult stonefly imitations tied on. I ask if he
caught any on it and he said he had not. I ask when he fished it and he said in the
early afternoon. In other words, he didn't have a clue about when the stoneflies laid
their eggs or probably what he was even trying to imitate with the dry fly. I ask if he
had tried any stonefly nymphs late in the day and he said he didn't have any. So
much for the stoneflies.

My guess is you guys that sent email complaining about the lack of results are
probably in the same boat. If you didn't catch trout casting a dry fly in the fast water,
you probably tied on a tandem rig with nymph fished below it (trailing it would be a
better description) and tossed it in the fast water. The nymphs don't leave the
bottom. They hatch into a dun on the bottom. If the Quill Gordons happened to be
hatching in the place you were fishing and if you happened to have been fishing at
the right time of day, you probably caught some trout - probably on the dry instead
of the nymph. Another problem with the tandem rig is that is you fish the right dry
fly, say a size 12 or 14 Quill Gordon dun imitation, it will not support a hook size 12
or 14 Quill Gordon nymph imitation. It would sink the dry fly. If you put a size 18
Blue Quill nymph under the Quill Gordon dry fly, then you would be better off but
the natural Quill Gordon duns are not in the same type of water the Blue Quills
nymphs are in. If not, you probably beat your brains out casting the wrong flies in
the wrong places without a clue about what was going on other than the "fishing
reports" say the fishing is great and the bugs are hatching.

The Quill Gordon hatch has just about ended in the lower elevations. It will be short
lived in the park for the next few days. The Blue Quills will continue to hatch for a
while but if you don't fish the hatch correctly, it will not do you any good. The
stoneflies will continue to hatch less and less and will not get any better until the
Goldens or Yellow Sallys begin to hatch. If you are not fishing a nymph near the
banks in the late afternoons, or earlier on the many cloudy days, you probably
didn't do much good. If you are not fishing nymphs in the right places in the
morning and up until about 2:00 PM (Quill Gordons behind the big boulders and
pockets and Blue Quills in the calm to moderate water) you will not be very
successful during that time period. I am not saying you cannot catch a trout on a
Pink and White Buffalo Bill fly, I am just saying your odds are low. When there are a
lot of insects in the water, such as there are now, the generic and attractor type
flies are less effective. They work better when there is no hatch occurring.

The Little Black Caddis have hatched in huge quantities in some places. It has
ended in the lower elevations and will be ending soon everywhere in the park. It is
the easiest caddisfly hatch to fish that occurs in the park. If you are fishing it with a
dry fly adult caddis at the right time of day or a caddis pupae imitation, then you
probably caught several trout. We found it about as consistent as the two mayflies
hatching.

Soon the Hendricksons will hatch and you will be just as bad off unless you know
how to fish the hatch. It never fails that many anglers complain about the slow
fishing, cold weather and anticipate the beginning of the warm weather, and then
when the hatches start and the weather turns perfect for trout fishing, they still
experience little success. It is not rocket science but it does take a little knowledge
about what the trout are doing. There is nothing magic about it. My only suggestion
for any of you that have not caught many trout during the last several days is for
you to realize it wasn't the fishing conditions that caused it. If you were not able to
catch them during the last couple of weeks, you need to reexamine the way you are
fishing. I have no idea if you are getting the very basics right or wrong. If you are
spooking trout it won't make much difference how you fish. If you are comfortable in
knowing you are getting the basics right, then you probably need to ask yourself
whether or not you really understand much about the bugs and how to go about
imitating them, or if you are just tying on flies and hoping something will eat them.
Good luck and sorry to be so blunt with you. I just want to tell it like it is.


Copyright 2009 James Marsh