It’s no secret the days have been rather hot lately. Summer has had it’s full grip on the temperatures, both air and water. We have also seen our share of afternoon storms, some of which have dropped lots of rain in short periods of time. This has kept most of our rivers at normal or higher than normal levels for this time of year. That is certainly a good thing for the trout fishing, but not so much for warm water fish in local rivers like smallmouth and largemouth bass. The local warm water river fishing has been very hit or miss, mostly because rivers like the Broad have been high and muddy from rains. I did get over to the Broad a few weeks ago on the kayak, and the water was the muddiest I have personally attempted to fish it. I managed mostly small fish in the 8 inch to 10 inch range before finally connecting with a decent 2 pound largemouth and nearly as big smallmouth before calling it a day.
Best smallie of recent trip
The lake fishing has been pretty steady as of late, with the rains keeping the water temps a little cooler on some days than what we would normally see. This has helped out the shallow water bite, especially on topwater presentations. Early morning and late evening is still the best for topwater bass action, but the panfish have been hitting popping bug/dropper combinations all day long. I did manage to pick up a big largemouth this week, but I was dragging the bottom of a point in deeper water at around 3pm in the afternoon of a hot day when I lucked into it. Trout fishing has been good with the river levels having plenty of water in them. Dry fly/dropper rigs are best for smaller wild trout water, stocked trout will take a wide variety of flies so just keep an eye on the weekly stocking reports to know where the fish have been put.
March, April, and May are quite possibly the best three months of the year to find yourself out on the water doing some form of fishing. Sure, there are other times during the year that can be magical, but these months offer such a variety of possibility that is tough to discredit them as the best time of year to fish. Lakes and ponds are warming up, which brings waves of bass, crappie and panfish into the shallows. Trout streams also get a big boost from the amount of insect life that starts to pick up this time of year. Typically caddis and a variety of mayflies start making a daily appearance that puts the trout in a good mood. So, generally the toughest thing to figure out is just what fish to chase on any given day. I usually try to fit it all in if I can, making the most of the fabulous conditions. Some trips on the lakes, and some trips on the rivers, and do it as many times as you can before the hot summer sets in. Some really nice bass can be caught this time of year as they start their shallow migration looking for spawning areas.
Always a great time to be on the lake, and by the month of May, the top water bite will kick in which makes it even more fun. The first heavy waves of bedding bluegill typically happens here in the month of May as well, so there is no better time to probe the shallows with a fly rod on the local lakes and ponds. The trout streams start to warm up in March, and the added insect activity usually means more aggressively feeding trout. I usually see caddis hatching before the majority of the mayflies start to take over. Plenty of caddis out this past week as I was on the river, and an elk hair caddis trailed by a soft hackle did the trick more than once.
Caddis do not float along the surface of the river and dry their wings before flying away like mayflies do. Instead, caddis will bust through the surface film already flying, and have a very erratic flying motion as they dry their wings in mid flight. Because of this, trout are usually taking the emergers just under the surface during a caddis hatch, and that makes the soft hackle a good option to trail behind a dry fly during these hatches. Spring is for sure an awesome time to be on the water, so I encourage to get out there and give it a go if at all possible.
The month of May is always a fabulous time to be on the water. Warming water temps brings plenty of fish up into the shallows, which makes them more accessible for a fly rod. Bass and panfish of all sorts move up onto the banks and can be caught using a variety of flies. Typically I will attack the shallows with a combination of a top-water popping bug with a sinking wetfly dropped off the back. This two-fly combination can be very effective at catching the fish roaming the banks this time of year. One of my first good bass taken on the fly this year actually came on a wooly bugger, I spotted this fish cruising the bank and dropped the fly out in front of it and it was game on:
I have been breaking in a new boat this spring, thanks to guys at East Cape Skiffs in Orlando FL. The Lostmen they built me has been seeing plenty of action so far. I researched these boats for about two years before finally pulling the trigger on one. This boat only needs about 5 inches of water to float in, and is very stable with a large casting deck. It also has a raised, removable casting platform and poling platform over the motor that will aid in sight fishing in the shallows.
I have been spending time mostly out on Lake Bowen and Lake Blaylock getting the new motor through its break-in period. We have been doing some bass fishing and going after the bluegill in shallows. The family got the the first test of the new boat out on the lake, just a quick trip to get the permits purchased and get the boat on the water.
My buddy Fred and I both got into some decent bass on our day out on the lake.
I also got to try out a new fly rod recently. I picked up a 0wt fly rod, very light weight and a whole mess of fun. Got a crappie on it, as well as a bass the first time out. Plenty of bluegill on it as well. All of these fish were taken with the popping bug/dropper combination. Get out and do some fishing now if you have the chance, as it is prime time for action!