While early season started with plenty of water in our rivers thanks to a good snow melt and plenty of rain in April, May and beyond brought some near drought conditions. As a result, most of our rivers in southern Ontario have had some of the lowest water levels I’ve ever seen. Local creeks and even the Credit River have been almost unrecognizable. Ontario was also under a fire ban for most of the summer (which has just recently been lifted). Things seem to be returning to normal now, with some more frequent rains and storms. Hopefully it will top the rivers off to provide some stable late summer and fall fishing opportunities.
That said, there are still plenty of rivers and lakes with more than enough water, even in dry years such as this one – and that’s where I’ve spent most of this season. They aren’t particularly close by for me, so it does mean some extra driving. Sometimes I’ll try to make the most of my trips though and stay a night (or, a week, or more…).
On the longer trips, I’m in the back country with a canoe and tent (or hammock). I’ve got a new trolling setup for the fly rod this year with the new(ish) universal Scotty rod holder, which works well for pretty much any rod type – casting, spinning or fly rod. Of course, I’m not only trolling from the canoe. I’ll also cast (mostly streamers) when I’m not travelling or trying to locate fish – but it’s nice to keep a line in the water even while travelling.
Closer to home, trout fishing has been mostly done while drifting in the pontoon, on rivers with plenty of water and where covering ground is easy and quick.
I’ve got two Scotty fly rod holders on my pontoon (the red XL-IR above), but they’re used only for transporting my rods. I bring two with me, so that I can rig them up with a different setup and easily switch between them. That’s one great thing about pontoon boats – you can load basically everything you would ever need and not have to worry about carrying it on your back or hip.
I haven’t exactly had the most success with the browns this year, especially when it comes to big browns. A combination of timing and losing fish – but that’s how fishing goes, especially when learning new water. It’s about time to start thinking about getting out for some night fishing though – and that will surely change my luck. There’s also the hope of hitting a good late Hex hatch (Hexagenia Autrocaudata).
I’ve had a couple nice browns hooked up, only to be lost on a jump or poor hookup. Still, there have been plenty of 10-14 inchers, which are never a disappointment.
One recent trip float also netted a decent Rainbow Trout that put a nice bend in the 4 weight.
And let’s not forget the numerous brookies. Suffice it to say, while no trophies were caught this season (in the front country), the trout trifecta has been a common occurrence on outings. Can’t complain about that!
For hatches, Stoneflies have been in a great abundance this year. They began showing up earlier than normal and they’re still sticking around in good numbers.
You may have seen the top of these flies (as pictured above), or you’ve seen them fluttering over the river. But there’s a good chance you haven’t seen the bottom side of a golden stone, which is what the fish see from below! If you tie your own flies, that’s a pretty important part of the fly. So, here you are…
The other hatch that has been fairly abundant on some rivers this year (aside from the usual Isonychia) is the Brown Drake. This is a good sized mayfly that can bring some solid fish to the surface. It seemed to stick around for quite a long time this year. At least twice already, a good month after fishing them earlier in the season, we saw some size 10-12 mayflies in the air before dusk and mistakenly thought they were Isonychia. It wasn’t until catching one much later that we realized they were actually Brown Drakes. We thought for sure they’d be done by now. That might explain our snubs from some decent fish those evenings.
Hard to believe it’s the end of July already. There’s only two more months of trout season left, with just a couple major hatches to look forward to. Smallmouth bass will be getting some attention as well, along with at least one more late season backcountry trip for trout.