When Matching the Hatch Fails

It’s always a great feeling when you succeed in matching the hatch: you determine exactly what the fish are feeding on, manage to find a fly that closely resembles it and start catching fish. Often times this is how fly fishing goes. However, there are times when none of the logical patterns seem to work and instead, a fly that represents nothing the fish are currently feeding on seems to work best. It might be an Elk Hair Caddis when there are no caddis on the water, or it might be an attractor pattern. The Patriot is a good example of the latter on many northern Michigan rivers.

I got out again Friday morning before work. There weren’t many bugs early morning, so I started fishing wet flies. When that was unproductive, I moved on to nymphs and later tried streamers. Fishing was slow, with little more than a couple missed hits on the wet flies.

As the sun came up and the temperature began rising, I started seeing a bunch of these:

Swarms of Tricos were about later in the morning

Lots of Tricos were hatching an hour or so past sunrise

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The title of my last post may have been a bit misleading. It wasn’t to say that the Grand is necessarily fishing poorly at the moment, but rather that it’s been cruel to me lately. Specifically, preventing me from fishing dry flies due to murky water and of course, the evil osprey that stole my fish.

This morning I woke up early again and headed to the river for a few hours before work. I had intentions to fish the Credit, until I read a tweet by Wilson’s, mentioning that the Grand was in excellent shape. It was pretty obvious during my last outing that fishing a dry fly in such murky water was pointless. Rather than sticking to the tried and true nymph, I focused primarily on streamers and soft hackles – and while I hooked into a few fish, it wasn’t really high percentage fishing.

When all else fails on the Grand, fish a Caddis. Better yet, fish a Caddis Pupa. I should probably adopt this strategy more often. If only catching trout on dry flies wasn’t so fun, or if swinging wet flies and streamers wasn’t so easy – then I guess I would. Today though, I was out for revenge and decided to stick to the tried and true. I’ve been trying to get my wife to take up fly tying and conveniently, she recently tied a handful of a very simple caddis pattern for me: Rick’s Caddis, from this book.

The result was somewhat of an improvement over my last trip. I was catching fish all morning and the only time the action let up was when I spooked the pools by landing too many fish in them. I missed quite a few trout due to poor hook sets as I wasn’t expecting so many fish back-to-back. None were exceptionally large, but I’m not complaining – there’s no such thing as a bad trout in my book.

The Cruel Grand

During my time off work last week, I made a couple trips to the upper section of the Grand River. This river has had its share of hard times in the past couple years. Last year it was the abnormally high spring and summer temps, which resulted in nearly unfishable conditions for much of the summer. This year, temperatures have been ideal, but the record rainfalls have had it running extremely high and dirty.

With a break from all the rain and cooler temps of late, I figured the river should be back in tip-top condition. So, last Thursday I set out at sunrise with an arsenal of Tricos, expecting to be tossing tiny dry flies to eager fish. When I arrived, the river flows were as expected, but the water was inexplicably murky – as if a huge rainfall had just gone through. Apparently, the heavy rains in weeks past have caused somewhat of a backup of sediment and algae in Belwood Lake, which is still being released from Shand Dam. The river was definitely more slippery than I’ve ever seen it, so blaming it on algae seems logical. Still, I didn’t travel 45 minutes at 6 am to turn around and drive back home.

Other than the water colour, everything seemed normal. Deer on the river, Cranes and the resident Osprey about and a bit of insect activity, hinting at the likely hatches in the coming hours.

It's becoming a normal occurrence to be greeted by a Deer in the mornings here

It’s becoming a common occurrence to be greeted by a Deer in the morning

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Pocket Water

I can’t say I frequent this stretch of river, yet it’s possibly my favourite and most memorable place to spend a day on the water. This is certainly one of the more scenic sections of river in southern Ontario. I rarely see another person here during a full day of fishing, which is likely due to the difficulty accessing it (a very long hike is required) and the fact that so many other more accessible sections of river offer easier and larger trout. For me, it’s a day out to enjoy the scenery and peace and quiet. The fact that I might also catch a few fish is an added bonus.

Scenic pocket water on a southern Ontario river

Scenic pocket water on a southern Ontario river

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