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Early Season Trout On The Fly
by Greg Leche
After a long winter, spring has finally arrived and with the change in seasons brings on the open water fly fishing season. Fly fishing at ice off can really be a hit and miss fishery. Sometimes conditions are right and you will get in some good fishing. But it can also slow with no sign of fish life.
At this time of year, the water is generally to cold for any consistent insect hatches. So you will find yourself fishing the "staples". "Staples" meaning a food source that is available to a trout all year long. This includes leech's, freshwater shrimp (scuds) and immature Dragon and Damselfly nymphs. One thing to be on the lookout is on warm afternoons there may be early Chironomid hatches. Another thing to lookout for are water boatmen as they really get the fishes attention. So the biggest key is to be prepared for many situations.
Early season tout are generally found in shallow water. So a floating line or intermediate sinking line is all that is usually needed. When fishing a new lake or you want to find some fish, a good technique is to troll leech patterns until you come across some fish that may be showing on the surface. Remember jumping fish at this time may not be feeding but are jumping for the hell of it. Once you have located some fish, you can cast and retrieve flies. Make sure to always double anchor when in a boat or single anchor in a float tube. Try a particular spot for 15-30 minutes or until you feel that you have covered the water effectively.
Another big factor in early season fly fishing is to avoid a lake which is in Spring Turnover. Depending on conditions a lake may turnover within a week or two of the ice coming off. Turnover is when winds mix up the oxygen in the lake. When a lake is in turnover the water will generally be quite murky and may have a lot of floating debris on the lake. Fish are extremely hard to catch during this time as they usually stop feeding. So your best bet is to try another lake that has not or has completed turnover.
My favorite early season patterns are Wooly Buggers in Olive and Maroon. Ones with added beads which make the fly dip and dive seem to work better early in the season. This maybe because the fish are lethargic and it takes some flashy patterns to get them to bite.
The last thing I would like to mention is that in the Spring there are lots of spawners around. There is no doubt that these fish are caught by accident and should be released quickly. Please do not target these fish and allow them to spawn successfully to insure future generations of fish.
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