It’s been a season of big trout for many fly fishermen in southern Ontario this year, at least according to those I’ve talked to and (to a somewhat lesser degree) my own experiences. It makes sense though… the rivers have had an abundance of water, keeping big trout holding in water that might otherwise be warmer, shallower and clearer. High dirty water has also kept dry fly purists at home, reducing fishing pressure on many rivers.
I won’t say it’s been a record season for me though, as I had an especially difficult time keeping big fish on the line earlier in the season. I’m not sure if I’ve finally shaken the dust off my streamer fishing skills, or if the trout have had a change in attitude (or both), but hook-ups with big fish have picked up somewhat over the last month for me. I suppose I can also attribute this to the arrival of warmer weather and the corresponding increase in night fishing success.
A big wild brown from last week, caught just past dark.
I’ve been getting behind on my updates this season, partly due to starting a new job, but also because I’ve been fishing rather than writing in much of my free time. I’ve shifted my working hours a bit earlier as well, which has given me more free time after work for fishing and family, but less free time for writing. Things are finally starting to normalize again though, so I expect to resume a more normal frequency of updates going forward.
Since the Green Drakes in early June, I’ve been back to the Credit just a handful of times to fish for browns. I went into lots of detail about the Green Drake hatches in my last post, so I won’t reiterate that here. However, I did manage to fool one more nice brown on a Green Drake spinner during the tail end of that hatch. It was a stronger, heavier and more colorful fish than the previous ones I’d caught during the hatch – and it put a nice bend in my 4 weight.
A large Brown Trout from the tail end of the Green Drake hatches on the Credit River
Speaking of my 4 weight… I managed to break it last month while fishing the Credit. I was never particularly gentle with the rod (Hardy Zenith #4) and I suspect it may have suffered some prior damage where it broke. It’s been sent back to Hardy for repairs and I’m hoping it won’t take too long to return, as I’m left to fish with a 7′ #3 and 9′ #6, neither of which I’m overly fond of for brown trout on the medium sized rivers I fish.
Every new trout season seems to come with its own unique characteristics and challenges. Last year it was higher than normal water levels and flows and this year it’s the polar opposite: some of the lowest spring water levels I’ve ever seen on many of our southern Ontario rivers. The long cold winter, which lacked in snow but not in record low temps, has left us with some pretty difficult early spring fishing conditions. That’s not to say that good fishing can’t be had, but many holes or runs that would typically hold good numbers of fish have been relegated to a couple feet of crystal clear water – no place for a wary trout. This equates to fishing the deeper holes that still provide enough cover for fish to hold in throughout the day or limiting fishing to lower light hours.
Abnormally clear, low water on the Grand River.
It’s surprising how much time can be spent learning all the subtitles of a river. While the knowledge gained on a single river is transferable, there will always be unique challenges and secrets to discover when fishing new water. Often, it’s difficult to pass up fishing your familiar stomping grounds – that spot you’ve put countless hours into and feel the most confident fishing. It’s easy, it’s fun and there’s a high chance that you’ll net a good number of fish. Exploring new water often results in fish-less days, which can be frustrating, especially when your fishing time is limited. However, not only will fishing unfamiliar water make you a better fly fisher, but every once in a while you’ll discover a hidden gem.
Every year I spend a great deal of time exploring new water. Most of the time I’m simply scouting out new sections of my favourite local river, though occasionally I’ll travel to a new river or stream. My most recent fixation is a section of water that I’ve overlooked for years, mainly out of laziness and a hunch that it would be unproductive and impossible to fish. This is a smaller branch of a local river, with much different characteristics from the main branch. The river here is narrow, fast and broken with lots of little pools. Turns out, it’s exactly what I love in a river: scenic, full of character and challenging. This is the type of water where stealth, patience and effort pays dividends.
This scenic river section has lots of rapids, creating many small plunge pools