1,000 two year old survivor strain brown trout. (those will average 14-18" judging from years past, and they are super FAT). We are seeing a few Hendricksons on the water and the hatch should be in full swing by the weekend.
So things are looking very good indeed, and us poor suffering souls that work at UpCountry won't have to listen to everybody whine that "the water's too high!!". Thank goodness, haha. At current flows, you can access almost all of the river, and nymphs, wets, dries & streamers are all possibilities. The warmer weather here to stay now will push water temps into the 50's by the weekend, and this should get both get the Hendricksons hatching & the trout feeding more actively. The problem this March/April has been cooler than normal water temps has made the trout lethargic. That will all change now! We were seeing a few Henny's hatch starting a good week ago, but the return to colder temps stalled the hatch out. Ultimately that's a good thing, as now the flow is down and the TMA will be LOADED with trout for this weekend.
TMA/permanent Catch & Release section finally started to pick up a bit recently, but it will REALLY pick up by this upcoming weekend with the water drop, TMA stocking, warmer temps, and the Hendrickson hatch should finally get going. Best bets currently are still nymphs & streamers, but there have been a few fish feeding on top in Church Pool when water levels have been normal, and once the Hendrickson hatch gets cranking, there will be fish feeding on top. The permanent TMA has not yet been stocked (probably the middle of this week though!), so you are fishing over mostly holdover & wild trout. Some stocked trout (mostly rainbows) are starting to drift into it too. Some nice holdovers & wild browns in the 16-20" range were landed in TMA recently. Two 6-7# broodstock browns were caught & released on big white streamers outside of TMA. Seeing some Baetis Vagans (a bigger, early season #16 Blue Winged Olive mayfly) hatching down in the C&R section. Milder weather has slowly but surely been making the water temps creep up closer to where they should be, and this will make both the trout & bugs more active. Hatches are still a week or two behind normal due to the cold winter. Reports are still varying from slow to excellent, depending upon who you talk to (normally the case!).
Those who have found pods of freshly stocked trout recently have racked up the biggest catches, but some bigger holdovers are mixing in here & there. Fish a spot, but if it's not producing, move on, don't linger. Lately the more water I cover lately, the better I do. I might come up empty in 2-3 spots, and then bang fish in the 4th. Nymphs & deeply/slowly fished streamers are the most reliable fish catchers in the cooler waters of the early season, doubly so when flows are up. The dry fly guys have been back at it when flows have been normal, and catching some fish at moments (ideally look for days without much wind)- overall the dry fly fishing has been slow lately though. This will change rapidly as water drops & warms this week, and we start to get into the hatch cycle. The Winter Caddis (AM) are waning but you may still see some, in the afternoons you should see Oives (#16-18 Baetis Vagans), Midges (#20-28) & still a few Early Black Stones (#12-16). I would guess the Hendricksons will be a full-blown hatch by this weekend.
Subsurface, try fishing Hendrickson nymphs, Bruce Marino & Rich Strolis both tie us DEADLY nymps for this- ask and we will point you toward them. Hendrickson nymphs catch me a lot of BIG trout in April/May. A bigger #12-14 Pheasant Tail can also work well. Hendrickson Nymph patterns can also pull double-duty as early season stoneflies. #16 Olive nymphs imitating Baetis Vagans are also a good choice now, they are just starting up. Early Black & Early Brown Stoneflies (sz 12-16), Pheasant Tails (sz 12-18), olive/green caddis larva (sz 8-16), cased caddis larva (sz 8-16), midge larva/pupa (sz 16-20, especially in red), attractor nymphs (sz 12-18 in Red Headed Stepchild, Copper Johns, blue Lightning Bugs, Yellow Prince, Rainbow Warrior, and egg flies (sz 10-18) are still a good choice. Don't be afraid to fish some some gaudier/flashy/attractor-type nymphs, the trout sometimes show a preference for them, doubly true for recently stocked trout.
If you are fishing streamers, try all sorts of retrieves & presentations from slow to fast, the trout will tell you how they want it if you listen to them. Try using a floating line and slowly bouncing/hopping a weighted Fishskull Skulpin Bunny on the bottom- use a 0x-2x tippet with this pattern & method, that fly is heavily front-weighted and rides hook point up. If you are using unweighted or lightly weighted streamers, use something to get them down- sinking line, sink-tip line, sinking leader, or split shot. Slow & deep is typically the name of the game in early spring, until water temps get over 50 degrees and stay there (anytime now).