Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives - mostly Little BWO - Isolated hatches
2. Cinnamon Caddis - Mostly Abrams Creek
3 Light Cahills - hatching
4. Midges - hatching in isolated locations
5. Little Short-horned Sedges - should hatch randomly for 2-3 months
6. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish
7. Little Yellow Stoneflies - hatching
8. Green Sedges - hatching
9. Little Sister Caddisflies - Mostly Abrams Creek
10. Eastern Pale Evening Duns - (called Sulfurs by some)
11. Sulphurs - hatching in isolated areas
12. Golden Stonefly - hatching
13. Little Green Stonefly - hatching
14. Slate Drakes - hatching
The Learning Process - Part 19
Continued from Yesterday's Article
After Angie and I had found, captured and digitally recorded about half of the
aquatic insects that exist in trout streams and had fished for several hundred days
across the nation, we begin to notice a pattern when talking to or watching other
anglers fish the hatches in various parts of the country. It seemed that in certain
locations, most anglers were well aware of the insects in their local streams and in
other locations, they were not. We begin to figure out that certain streams required
anglers to either learn how to fish the hatches or get used to catching few trout. In
other streams it seemed no one knew which insects were in their local water and
really could care less. It became obvious that the type of stream created the
type of anglers. It wasn't that anglers in one part of the country would study the
insects and in general know more than anglers in another location just for the heck
of it. Where they could catch a few trout using generic and attractor imitations only
they did and as a result, they knew little about the insects. Where they couldn't
catch trout easily on the generic and attractor patterns, they either took up golf or
they learned all about the insects.
In some parts of the country, all the streams in the area may be of one basic type.
For example, in Southeastern Pennsylvania, most all of the streams are small
limestone spring creeks. You want meet many anglers with a fly box full of Royal
Wulffs there. If you do, you will find they only fish a few select streams with fast
moving water. Most anglers know exactly which insects hatch, when they hatch, and
how to catch trout on specific imitations of them. You don't fish a Trico, Sulphur,
White Drake, etc hatch in a spring creek successfully unless you do just about
In the Western Rocky Mountains the fishing is so diverse with so many different
types of streams ranging from spring creeks, to large rivers, lakes, tailwaters,
pocket water, freestone streams, etc., anglers have a huge choice as to where they
fish. In that case you will find the anglers themselves vary greatly in the ways they
fish depending on which streams they fish. The ones that like to fish fast moving
pocket water will only fish the fast water, etc. etc.
The pattern clearly showed that when anglers in a given area are able to catch a
few trout using the generic or attractor patterns, they tend to do only that. They
become content to fish that way and never progress beyond that point.
When they cannot catch several trout they simple label the fishing as being slow or
poor. When they can, the fishing is good. They tend to think they have everything
figured out and blame their lack of success on everything they can think of. If these
same anglers visit the Western states, they end up avoiding the streams that don't
have the same type of water they are used to fishing. If they go to Yellowstone
Country, they tend to fish the fast pocket water and avoid the others types of
streams or areas of the streams with other types of water. For example, if they
happen to stop and fish the state park on the Henry's Fork, which has a good
population of wild, 14 to 18 inch rainbow trout that probably average 16 inches,
they are quick to tell you they don't like the Henry's Fork. That is all well and fine.
Everyone should be allowed to fish wherever and however they choose.
For a couple of more years, in what for purposes of these articles I call the
"Learning Process", I thought that about summed everything up. It had not yet
dawned on me that when the standard generic/attractor flies didn't work well in the
fast pocket water streams, when anglers were labeling the fishing as poor or slow,
the trout were simply not feeding heavily and aggressively in the fast water runs
and riffles. They were holding and feeding in other places.
This usually occurred when he water was too warm or cold and the trout's
metabolism was not in high gear. Where anglers were used to fishing fast pocket
water, other obvious things such as low water, moving slower than normal, that
allowed the spooky trout to closely examine the fly and see the angler, got the same
poor fishing label. It wasn't that the trout stopped feeding. The anglers just didn't
know how to cope with the changes. I also begin to notice that when the trout did
feed selectively on certain insects, a time when it is easiest to catch a lot of trout
fast, few anglers recognized it and were able to adapt to it to catch plenty of trout.
They just continued to toss the same flies the same way they always did.
I also begin to notice that most anglers didn't have a clue about spinner falls that
took place in the same fast pocket water streams they fished day in and day out.
They didn't know a spinner fall from a hatch. They would talk about big hatches
occurring just before dark when it was actually spinner falls or egg laying caddis or
stoneflies, not a hatch that was occurring.
The bottom line was that in the fast pocket water type of streams (it didn't matter
where it was in the Smokies or Pacific Northwest) anglers became content to just
catch trout when ideal conditions prevailed. Often, the "good" fishing lasted a long
time and everything worked great. When it didn't, it was always the fishing
conditions, not the angler's lack of being able to cope with the changes. In a
nutshell, anglers become complacent and content. They become what I call
"mediocre anglers". Because they are able to catch a lot of trout on occasions and
because there are so many anglers, in some cases a majority that fall into that
same category, they really think they got it all down pat and that is just the way
thing are. There is nothing wrong with that either. Humans are not bothered with
things they are completely unaware of.
Maybe I am doing some guys a big injustice by making them aware that "when you
can't merely make a good presentation tossing a dry fly in a fast moving run or riffle
and catch trout, and especially, when you get real creative and change to a nymph
and toss it into the same fast water run or riffle and still can't catch trout, it is not
that the fishing is "slow, poor or bad". Unlike the trout, they are not adapting to the
change in the conditions.
Copyright James Marsh 2009