Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives (See Below)
2. Mahogany Duns
3. Little Yellow Stoneflies - Summer Stones
4. Slate Drakes
5. Needle Stoneflies
6. Little Yellow Quills
13. Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
Back To The Basics - Strategies
From yesterday for reference:
Trout's Menu: Sept. 2 through Sept. 6:
Little Yellow Stoneflies
Little Yellow Quills
Hellgrammites (Dobsonfly Larvae)
and from yesterday, for reference, I also said:
Tomorrow, I will get into the even more important part - the strategies to use to determine just
what the trout will most likely order from the above menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don't
miss it or the above list would be of far less importance.
To start with, you have to select a location to start out fishing. Today, it will still be
hot and I wouldn't start any lower than 2500 feet, except for the first hour or two of
the day or before 10:00 AM. After today, it will cool off substantially and you could
fish most anywhere. Don't expect the trout to adjust instantly. It takes a day or two
sometimes for them to adjust into these drastic changes in water (and with fish)
body temperature changes. Sunday will be better than Saturday in the lower
elevations. If you want a shot at a brown, stay on the low side. If you want just
brookies, fish high or above 3000 ft. You should be able to catch trout about
anywhere at least by Sunday.
When and What to Fish:
Having the list of insects other food shown above gets you off to the right start but
in order to be able to utilize them to your advantage, you need more information.
That includes eleven (11) items some of which (terrestrials and baitfish) involve
more than one item. The aquatic insects could be at different stages of life. For
example, trout may eat the Little Yellow Stonefly nymphs and/or egg laying adults
and both during the same day. As you can see, being able to imitate everything that
is possible the fish may eat involves more than 11 flies. It could involve 20 or 30
depending on several things.
I can't possible tell anyone everything they need to know about all the foods listed,
how and when the trout may feed on them, which flies to use, etc., all in one article
but I can give you an idea of the procedure you would use to go about deciding the
order of priority, or how to increase you odds in doing so. Lets start from the top of
the list and go through each one.
The majority of the species that may hatch would be 18, 20 hook size Little BWOs,
mostly swimmer nymphs. It is also possible the 18 size Eastern BWOs may hatch as
pointed out yesterday. The problem is all of these flies are very sensitive to light.
They tend to hatch on heavily overcast, cloudy, misting rain type of days. On clear
days they are usually very sparse. That would be the big factor i would go by. In
addition, I would want to see some evidence of the hatch. I would want to spot some
duns on the water or in the bushes. Examine the stream and foliage around the
stream. Look underneath the leaves of trees because these little mayflies will get
under them in the shade and you won't see them unless you look. If I couldn't find
anything, I wouldn't place much emphasis on the BWOs. Again, they hatch off and
on during this time of the year and mostly on low pressure system days. In short
form, If I spotted some duns, I would give it a try but that too would become involved
with the time of day factor. If the hatch is underway, fish the emergers or dun
imitation. If not, and it occurred the day before, fish the nymph until about 2:00 PM.
If you spot some duns, look for some spinners near dark. I would have the
necessary flies along to do this, just in case. The odds of finding some of these are
about 10% on clear days and as high as 40% on heavy overcast days at this time.
Little Yellow Stoneflies:
As mentioned yesterday, this may be the Summer Stoneflies usually called Yellow
Sallies that are still hatching, or other Little Yellow Stoneflies species that hatch in
the late Summer, or early Fall. These both are close to a hook size 14. If I spotted
any adults I would consider these to be prime insects to match. If I didn't see any
evidence of a hatch (nymphs in very shallow water or shucks shed the night before
on rocks or the bank), I would wait but keep an eye out all day. If I did spot evidence
of a hatch underway, I would fish a nymph imitation of them late in the afternoon
starting about 6:00 PM until legal hours ended. If during that same time I spotted
egg layers on the water, I would consider changing to an adult pattern. I would want
to see a few, not just one or two, or otherwise I would keep fishing the nymph
imitation. Depending on what else I discovered during the day, this would be at the
top of the list for my late in the day strategy unless I discovered something better.
Your odds of finding some of these are about 30-40%.
If these large mayflies are hatching you would see their nymphal shucks on rocks or
the bank. They are easy to spot. The nymphs crawl out of the water to hatch. If I did
spot a dun or two, or if I found shucks (even one or two), I would want to fish a Slate
Drake Nymph imitation for at least part of the time during the day. I would also want
to try an imitation of the Slate Drake Spinner late in the afternoon. Keep in mind,
that if I were fishing the high elevation streams or fast water mid elevation streams, I
would not even look for them. These are usually found in the larger, slower moving
streams in the lower elevations. They are swimming nymphs. I would say you would
only have about a 20% chance or less of finding them hatching at this time of year.
Little Yellow Quills:
If you are fishing the high or mid elevation fast water streams, your chances are
about 40% these may be hatching before the weekend is over. They will not be
plentiful in medium to large size streams with slower moving water. They should
hatch around 11:00 to 2:00. They would hatch earlier today and Saturday than
Sunday or Monday, for example. The spinners fall from 5:00 PM to dark and earlier
Sunday or Monday than today or Saturday, if any hatch. If you see a few duns when
you get to the stream, and it's 2:00 PM or after, be sure to fish the spinner fall
starting around 5:00 PM. Make it a priority. If you see some duns and it's around
noon, for example, start fishing a Little Yellow Quill emerger. If you see trout taking
flies from the surface, fish an imitation of the Little Yellow Quill Dun. The next day,
start fishing the LYQ Nymph imitation as soon as you get on the stream up until the
hatch begins. I would place your odds of finding these mayflies at about 30% today
and 50% by Sunday in the high and mid elevations. Again, make sure you are
prepared for this hatch unless you are only fishing the lower elevations.
Almost the same as the LYQ mayflies, if you are fishing the high or mid elevation
fast water streams, you chances are about 40% these will be hatching before the
weekend is over. They will not be plentiful in medium to large size streams with
slower moving water. They should hatch late in the day near dark. The eggs layers,
if egg laying has started, will take place from approximately 4:00 to dark. If it's very
cloudy, it could start earlier. If you see any adults when you get to the stream, make
sure you start looking for egg laying activity (the females will get over the water and
dip down to knock their eggs off on the surface), start fishing the adult imitation. If
not, and you have spotted some adults, but not egg layers, start fishing the Needle
Stonefly nymph imitation about 4:00 PM and on until late in the day. This would be a
very big priority.
Even though they will hatch, forget them during this time period. There are plenty of
other food for the trout and the weather will remain good through the 6th of
September or the period of time that we are covering.
The adult craneflies are just about everywhere there's water and the trout will eat
them. Fishing imitations of them isn't exactly easy because you will spook most trout
feeding on them. They are found mostly in very shallow water around the stream's
edges. If I couldn't find any evidence of any aquatic insects hatching or about to
hatch, I would give this a shot but not in priority to that. The nymphs are in the water
most of the year. Imitations of them work most anytime. If nothing is hatching aquatic
insect wise, you may want to try an imitation of the cranefly nymph. The trout will
take them in priority to the adults, but they are not as much fun to fish.
Hellgrammites (Dobsonfly Larvae):
These are mostly in the lower elevation streams. Same as with the Cranefly larvae,
you may want to try these when the aquatic insect outlook isn't good. They work
much better in the slower moving water and edges of the pools, etc. Large brown
trout love them and so do smallmouth bass.
All of the Terrestrials Listed Below:
Even though the odds of finding them is 100%, in general, I would hold off fishing
imitations of terrestrials (ants, hoppers, inch worms or beetles) unless: (a) none of
the above hatches occurred or (b) we had some heavy rain or wind. Then I would
increase their priority.
If it rains at least a quarter of an inch, or hard for a short time, I would try an
imitation of a Carpenter Ant as soon as it stopped raining.
Unless I was in a open area with lots of grass, I would start with a beetle imitation or
our Perfect Fly Japanese Beetle.
If the wind was blowing or had been blowing hard, and I was around some grassy
areas, I would start with a hopper imitation. I will explain this later some time, but for
now let me just say I wouldn't fish a hopper imitation at all in low light conditions. You
want the sun to be on the water or for it to be a bright day.
If the wind was blowing or had been blowing and I spotted any moth larvae hanging
from the trees and bushes, I would try this in priority to the other terrestrials.
Baitfish and Sculpin:
I should have included Sculpin separately since most anglers don't consider it a
baitfish as such. Sculpin are in all the streams and range from tiny minnow size up
to large ones up to 3 or 4 inches long. Black Nose Dace are also in all the streams.
Trout feed on these marine species year-round and you can never go wrong fishing
imitations of them. It's also a fact that you would probably average catching larger
trout. In short, I wouldn't go fly fishing for trout without having some streamers. I
would want our own Brown Sculpin (the most realistic sculpin imitation there is), our
White Belly Sculpin and some of our 4 colors of Marabou Sculpin for various lighting
conditions and water colors.
Keep in mind these recommendations are only for Sept 2 through 6. The conditions
are not likely to change greatly but enough that I would want to review the entire
outlook any other dates. Also, keep in mind I only touched on highlights of these
foods. There's a lot more to it that what I have written.
I do hope this gives you an idea of how I go about planning a day of fishing in the
park or anywhere else for that matter.
Since 1980, day in and day out, I have got up in the morning to go fishing or to
study fishing, or one of a few closely related things such as boating or boating and
fishing electronics. Prior to that I fished five years of the BASS circuit national
tournaments and lived and breathed fishing, but like most of you, prior to 1980, I
worked running a large construction business I owned. Since 1980, my sole income
has to do with fishing or things closely related to fishing. Failing to catch fish
wasn't an option, whether it was a blue marlin or a bream. If I was fishing a
tournament (ten years of saltwater tournaments) it was important to my sponsors
and my winnings. If I was producing a TV show on fishing (five years of that), I had
to catch fish to have a show. It was year-round, by the way, not a 13 week series. If I
was producing an instructional video on fishing (46 not including 18 fly fishing
programs), boating videos (26) or electronic GPS, fishifinder, and radar programs
(many), fishing was a big part of it in one way or another. I'm sure all of this has
changed my way of going about it. In some ways, it has taken a lot of the fun out of
it but in other ways, I feel it has given me a much better perspective on it than most
Many years of this was primarily to do with saltwater fishing, not in any one area, but
over much of the eastern part of our World. It didn't take long for me to learn that in
order to be successful with any of it, I had to learn all about what the fish ate
and how, when and where they went about it. I found that fly fishing for trout
was a little more complicated in some respects, but not really any different from any
of the other types of fishing. If I had of relied on trial and error methods of
fishing, I would have starved to death many years ago.
Copyright 2010 James Marsh