I’ll be honest, Mother Nature has not exactly been kind to me on my last few fishing outings. In fact, last time I had the day to go fish, it rained hard all night and by the morning of, all the rivers were completely blown out. I even drove to 4 different locations, just to see if anything was low enough to fish. This week, conditions were a little better, but still far from ideal. Recent rains again had the rivers high and murky. And it was a nice 27 degrees when I arrived. Not to mention the river itself looked a little different as some areas had been silted in from high waters. I started out throwing streamers and located a few fish scattered in the middle of the river. As I worked my way into deeper water, I caught the best brookie of the day on the streamer:
Once I had fished the streamer through the area, I switched over to nymphing with a larger black stone fly and a worm pattern. After about 30 minutes of fishing this rig, it seemed apparent that the fish only really wanted the worm pattern. After changing the worm up a few times, it also seemed that the fish mostly wanted a red one. So, for the rest of the day, that is what I used. I had to adjust the amount of split shot on occasion, and the depth of the indicator. In a few places, I went without the indicator and just did some high sticking. Keeping the worm near the bottom on a good drift produced a good many fish, and I was able to complete the slam with a brook, rainbow and brown trout all of decent size. The higher murky water was surely dictating how I had to fish, and what the fish were responding to, but as long as you experiment and adapt to conditions you can have a productive day.
This is certainly one of my favorite times of year, for a variety of reasons. October through December just seems to have so much to offer between college football, deer hunting, and great fishing. Combine that with the leaves changing color, cool temperatures and great Fall harvest foods and I am one happy camper. I got out this week and did some trout fishing, my best fish was this decent rainbow:
Many rivers in SC and NC will get stocked pretty heavy this time of year, and the DH regulated streams are back to catch-and-release only. Plenty of trout in the rivers means more opportunity for catching. My recent outing on the river started a little chilly, at 31 degrees outside. Switching between olive and black streamers to dragging a stonefly and lightning bug nymph around produced most of my fish. I did manage two fish on an elk hair caddis dry fly at one point when I wanted to just try something different. I did not see any fish rising to bugs, but figured I would give it a shot and I the two fish took the dry fly in a fairly shallow riffle, but that was the only surface action I got. One of them was a decent brown trout.
We have certainly seen our share of 95 degree plus days over the last month or so. That has almost certainly kept the water temps high and the water levels low in a lot of places. I certainly try to make it a habit to fly fish for something all year long, but what I am fly fishing for does usually change from season to season. If I am trout fishing in the hottest months of the year, I typically go to high elevation wild trout water somewhere and the temps are still reasonable. Or I may take off to a big tailwater river in TN, also where the trout are active all summer. My other options though are usually local rivers and lakes for bass, panfish and other species. I have had good success this summer on lakes, sometimes even in the hottest part of the middle of the day, which was when I managed this nice smallmouth bass:
Many of the lake fish, including this smallmouth, have been taking a combination of a Boogle Bug popper with a variety of different sinking flies dropped off the back. Shady areas tend to be the most productive, but I have also been surprised with plenty of fish willing to hang out in the sunny spots.
Local rivers can also be a great place for summer action, as the moving water is usually more oxygenated and a little cooler sometimes than the lakes. The water is not as deep overall, so the fish tend to be more accessible with the fly rod. Plenty of panfish can be caught in any of the local rivers, and most have some population of spotted bass or largemouth bass in them as well. One species I have recently targeted is the longnose gar. I am working out the details to offer guided float trips for these fish hopefully starting sometime in summer 2016. I have some more research and development to do, but if it all works out, these fish will provide another summertime alternative. Here is a pic of one I got in my last outing:
Time to be hitting the warm water fisheries for the panfish that is. May and June can be fabulous for chasing the bluegill and other panfish around on the local lakes and rivers. Typically you can find plenty of shallow bluegill as they move up on beds to spawn. If you can locate these, you can have a grand time of fast and furious catching on the fly rod. My daughter Sage likes to catch them during this time, so I got her out on the water this past week and she had a good time catching them on a 4wt set up. Using the typical Boogle Bug popper with a sinking dropper fly off of it, she landed numerous good sized bluegill. She then proceeded to give each of them a name (girly stuff like flower, sunshine etc.) before she released them back into the lake.
I have had several guided trips out recently and all of my clients were able to get into plenty of bedding bluegill and shellcracker. These fish will remain shallow for most of the month of June, especially around the full and new moons. I did some fishing from my kayak this month as well, and I managed to land the biggest bluegill I have caught so far this year. A nice fish that almost covered my lap:
I also had the joy of getting into a few smallmouth bass recently. It has been a while since I had caught one, and I reminded myself of how much fun they are. I landed several good ones while out on the lake with my buddy Fred. Looking forward to doing it again really soon.
It’s that time of year again, that time when I have to decide just which species of fish I want to chase. Certain times of the the year that decision is made for me just by knowing what the different fish like in terms of water conditions. However, the months of March through May can be fabulous for just about everything. Bass, bream, crappie, stripers, trout, and the list goes on. I try to fit in as many different fishing outings as I can during these months, and I would suggest you do the same if you can. The trout fishing has been good on a variety of rivers and I got several good ones on the Davidson river lately, including this nice rainbow:
I started early in the morning throwing streamers until the sun got up on the water. Once the bug activity started to increase I threw a variety of dry flies and nymphs, having most of my success on elk hair caddis dry flies and small rubber legged nymphs in size 18. This nice brown actually took the elk hair caddis dry fly:
I also dusted off my boat and got out on Lake Bowen for the first time this year. Water temps at the boat ramp were around 59 degrees when I launched. I caught several small bass in fairly shallow water, all less than 5 feet deep and mostly on a spinner bait. I did not catch anything bigger than 2 pounds on this outing. I did see several fish cruising in the shallows up next to the bank, so it will not be long before the first wave of larger fish makes their way into the shallows. I even managed a yellow perch from next to a boat dock, colorful fish.
Fall is always a great time of year, in my opinion. College football kicks back in, deer hunting, Fall colors of leaves changing, and of course great fishing. Many trout streams fish well this time of year, from catch and release water to high elevation wild trout water, and even some local put and take South Carolina streams. I have fished several different catch and release streams recently and had fabulous days each time. A few good sized fish brought to net as well as high fish count
Most of my large fish have been caught on smaller nymphs, sizes 16 and 18. I have thrown plenty of streamers and larger nymphs which have certainly caught me plenty of fish, but for one reason or another the larger fish have been caught on smaller flies. Just coincidence most likely, as I have certainly had good luck in the past on catching large fish on bigger flies as well. This rainbow took a small rubber legged nymph late afternoon on the Davidson river:
Will was able to cash in on his biggest trout so far while dragging a double nymph rig with some split shot trough a deep cut where we had seen the fish working.
Will and I also hit some put and take water in South Carolina. We only had a few hours, so we stayed local and had the river to ourselves for a few hours before the bank fisherman showed up. We caught a good many fish on a variety of flies including yellow stone flies, black stone flies, san juan worms, and even elk hair caddis dry flies. We were there 4 days after the SCDNR had stocked, and while there were plenty of folks fishing and keeping fish, we found more than enough fish still in the river to have some fun. Interestingly enough, most of the bank fisherman were not catching much, as the fish were not responding to any presentations that did not drift naturally. That worked in our favor, as we were wading the river and using fly rods, giving us the ability to dead drift flies, and we pulled numerous trout out of holes after other fisherman had struck out using spinning gear. So, don’t be afraid to stay local and try the SC water, you might be pleasantly surprised.