Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday 2/24/17 Report- big browns are waking up

The unseasonably warm temps of late has the trout fired up, some bigger browns have shown up in angler's nets this week. Shaggy (aka Tyman) caught this perfect 21" male brown Thursday on a nymph- he said the fish was laying in relatively fast water. Total flow is currently a normal 382cfs through the permanent Catch & Release in Pleasant Valley/New Hartford (97cfs at USGS Riverton gauge, plus 285cfs from the Still River)- Riverton flow is low but improved due to snowmelt, and below the Still River we finally have a normal late February flow! The spring-like conditions also has the bugs active & ahead of schedule, we are seeing all of the Winter/Early Stones- Tiny Blacks sz 18-24 (Capnia), Early Black sz 14-16, and Early Brown sz 14-16. Sometimes trout will rise to the Stones, but typically they choose to feed on the nymphs. Specific imitations work, as do generic flies like Princes, Pheasant Tails and Hare's Ears. #18 Midge larva/pupa nymphed deep are still very effective. Despite "the experts" saying the best fishing in the winter is 11am-3pm, I often do best from mid-afternoon until dark, when water temps are normally highest (except during times of heavy snowmelt). Expect water temps in the upper 30s to low 40s, depending upon time of day. Other than the Winter & Early Stones, hatches include Winter Caddis sz 18-24 (mornings primarily, but sometimes into the afternoon), and Midges sz 22-32 (typically afternoons). For Midge larva & pupa nymphed deep, you can go #18-20 (black, olive, red).

"Keystone Fly Fishing" (covering PA in detail by local guides/experts) is out now, and it's an incredible book. Almost 600 pages of detailed info by 9 different PA authors, tons of beautiful color photos and fly suggestions, numerous stream maps & a great PA hatch chart, this book is the new Pennsylvania fly fishing bible. They don't sugar coat things either- streams that were once famous & great but aren't anymore are described accurately, and if a stream is marginal, they will tell you that it isn't worth fishing after a certain date in the spring. If you ever wanted to explore PA, this is the book to get. Devin Olsen's & Lance Egan's new "Modern Nymphing" DVD's arrived at UpCountry recently and is selling fast, we already on our second batch. They did a great job, with clear instruction and excellent cinematography (filmed by Gilbert Rowley of excellent website, check it out). Devin & Lance are 2 of the top members of Flyfishing Team USA- both scored an individual bronze medal in the World Flyfishing Championships in 2015/2016 respectively, and both years Team USA also garnered team medals (bronze & silver), so you could say these two are legit, truly world class anglers who have held their own against the best in the world (historically France, Spain, Czech Republic, and Poland). Devin's website is if you want to check it out and watch a DVD preview, he also has many insightful fly tying & fly fishing articles on there.

The new book "Nymphing The New Way: French leader fishing for trout" is back in stock again- it focuses on Euro-style nymphing using very long leaders, which is deadly indeed. The first batch sold out in a week or two. Keep your eye out for "Nymph Masters" by Jason Randall coming out in March/April (they keep changing the release date), and this batch is now almost sold out.

Winter water temps will typically average in the 30's in the wintertime, depending upon weather, time of day, and distance from dam- it can crack into the 40's during warming trends like we have now (after the snow melts off). This means trout have mostly dropped out of faster water and moved into their deeper, slow to moderate current winter lies. Colder water leads to a slower trout metabolism, which means they don't need to eat as much. They look to conserve energy by holding in water with less current, that also has some depth (for security). However, they will often move into riffles at the pool heads to feed on nymphs/pupa/larva when sunshine raises the water temps in the afternoons, which both increases their metabolism and gets the bugs more active.

Nymphs dead-drifted down deep the most consistently effective winter flies, good patterns include: smaller nymphs sz 16-22 (Midges, Baetis/BWOs, Quasimodo Pheasant Tails, Hot Spot Attractors, Rainbow Warriors, etc.), Winter/Early Stones sz 14-20 (black, brown), Caddis Larva sz 14-18 (olive/green), Cased Caddis sz 8-16, and Perdigones sz 14-20 (black, olive, brown, yellow). Egg patterns are often very effective in the winter/early spring, so make sure to have some egg flies (small Glo Bugs/Sucker Spawn/Otter Eggs) in your arsenal. Although smaller nymphs have been more consistent than bigger ones, don't rule out bigger Stonefly Nymphs sz 8-14 (brown, golden/yellow, black) and #8 Mops, sometimes bigger nymphs pull bigger fish.

Streamers are still catching fish, especially during low-light conditions- browns are post-spawn & hungry, looking to bulk up. Experiment with colors & retrieves to find what's best at any given moment (it changes). I would also try to make your presentations mostly slow & deep due to the cooler water temps, both swinging and slow retrieves are good choices. Experiment though, sometimes even in cold water the trout will respond to a fast retrieve, but overall in winter they like it slower. The hot streamer rig has been a weighted streamer with a soft-hackle or nymph trailed off the hook bend 18" behind . Typically the smaller trailing fly catches most of the trout, but some days the streamer does most of the business. This rig allows you to cover a lot of water and present your nymphs/wets in water that would normally be hard to nymph. 

The MDC did their fall trout stocking in early November, typically they put in 1,000+ fish. This batch was stocked in the upper river from the Goodwin/Hogback Dam in Riverton downstream to Whittemore Pool. The state & the FRAA both stocked the upper seasonal Catch & Release section last fall also. Close to 4,500 trout were stocked in the upper 4 miles of river in fall of 2016, and that entire section is C&R from September until Opening Day in April.

UpCountry acquired a ton of Simms closeouts that are on sale. There is still a large selection of Men's & Women's: Gore-tex jackets, packs, slings, shirts, pants, tee shirts, and a few shoes/wading boots/waders. Sizes are limited (the Men's is mostly in Large, and the Women's is all in Medium) and there are only a couple of each item so when they are gone they are gone. Simms Tee Shirts size large are buy one get one free.

We have a limited selection of Simms & Umpqua Packs and Vests 40% off.  In addition to these items, UpCountry will price match just about any sale or deal you can find on the internet.... we appreciate your business and recognize that sometimes a deal will pop up online that you can't resist.... just bring it to our attention.

We are always looking for good trade-in fly rods and reels to sell on our website. If you are looking for some new equipment we will gladly put the value of your used gear toward new items in our store. Give us a call to make an appointment.... our prices on trade ins are typically higher than found anywhere else.

If you like our fishing report, please consider buying your gear from us. We generally ship the same day, for free anywhere in the country on all but the smallest orders. Our shop can only exist with your patronage.
Midges sz 22-32 (typically afternoons, but can start earlier). The Winter Caddis hatch best after cool to cold nights, mild nights actually make for light hatches of them. Stones usually hatch better on mild days. Nymphing remains the most consistent producer of trout, but streamers are catching too at moments (just remember to fish them slow & deep first, and if that doesn't work, strip them in faster, but make sure to get them down in the water column).