It’s been far too long since my last post. Fall and Winter have come and gone and another new trout season is finally upon us. If it weren’t obvious from my lack of updates, I did nothing spectacular (from a fishing standpoint) during my annual resident trout layoff. October to May has become the busiest months of the year for us, mainly due to three children becoming ever increasingly active in sports. It happens to work out perfectly though… the sports wind up as trout season is finishing and they wind down as the next trout season arrives. It helps keep the mind off fishing, when there’s no fishing to be had.
Unlike the rivers, this season has started off pretty slow for me (due the the winding down part mentioned above). In the time I have found to get out, I’ve stuck close to home – repeating my tradition of avoiding the more overcrowded rivers in favor of small stream brookies.
Fishing small streamers for brookies on a frigid opening day.
Another trout season has come and gone and while mine ended in a traditional fashion, the majority of the season was anything but traditional here in southern Ontario. In an effort to keep this post positive and prevent it from derailing into another rant on our poor fisheries management in Ontario, I’ll simply say that 2015 will be remembered by many here as the demise of the resident Brown Trout. Yes, I’m mainly talking about the Credit River, so this isn’t a blanket statement (yet). However, some quick research into Ontario MNR fisheries management priorities should make it pretty clear that no river is safe in the foreseeable future, unless something changes. I’ll leave it at that for now, but I’ll be posting a longer rant on this in the upcoming days / weeks.
Now, on to the good stuff. As is customary, I spent the end of the season targeting Brook Trout on small rivers and streams. Even if our Brown Trout rivers had been fishing well (or, at all…), I’d still choose to target Brookies at this time of year. The waters they inhabit are scenic, have very little fishing pressure and the fish are in full pre-spawn colors at this time of year.
For some reason, everyone in my house was awake at 6:30 am Wednesday morning. That may sound normal for a house with working parents and school-age kids, but it’s certainly not the norm here. The combination of flexible job hours, a night owl for a wife and kids who really like their Zzz’s keeps us all snoozing closer to 7:30-8:00 am on a normal day. Actually, who am I kidding… it’s a rare sight to see me awake at such a time, unless it involves fishing.
I’ve been itching to break out the 3 weight on my local stream this year, but early spring steelhead makes it too risky until they drop back out to the lake. With everyone awake early, the sun shining through the bedroom blinds and birds chirping, it seemed like a good morning to sneak out for a couple hours before work.
I love small streams and all the perks and challenges that come with them: solitude, stalking wary fish, light gear and technical casting. Sure, fish size generally correlates to stream size, but when you’re casting a 2-3 weight rod with 6-8x tippet on a small stream, an 8 inch trout can be just as exciting (or more so) than a 12 inch trout on a larger river.
A wider-than-average stretch of the stream I fished Wednesday morning
There have been only a handful of fishable days on the upper Grand River so far this season due to high flows. The first of these (the second day of the season) was apparently somewhat productive, but after the water levels rose again for a while and then fell last week, the Browns seemed to have completely shut down. On the couple days I fished it last week, not only did I get skunked, but so did every other angler I met on the river. I stopped by Wilson’s one day after fishing and learned that every angler who visited the shop that day experienced the same results.
The Grand River was quiet in more ways than one last week
Last weekend marked the end of the 2013 trout fishing season here in Ontario for most inland rivers and streams. It’s hard to believe it’s come and gone so fast and we have a long 7 months to wait until we can fish for local resident trout again. It still irks me that nearly all of our rivers here are special regulations (catch and release only, artificial, single point barbless hook), yet we still have such short fishing seasons. Not only does it mean we’re stripped of our favourite pastime for more than half of the year, but it also means money lost by both small and large businesses related to fly fishing: fly shops, big box stores, tourism, etc. Yes, there’s bass (until December) and Steelhead fishing opportunities – and I appreciate that. But for many, including myself, it’s just not the same. Using many of the top resident trout fisheries in the US as an example, it’s easy to see that it can be very viable to keep special regulations trout water open for a much longer season, if not the entire year.
This is my favourite time of year to fish. The scenery is at its peak with the fall colours and fish are becoming more aggressive as they beef up for the coming spawning and winter seasons.
I love fishing small, quiet water like this during the fall
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:
Lots of Tricos were hatching an hour or so past sunrise
I managed to sneak away to the Credit last night for a couple hours, hoping to find it a bit further along than the Grand was on the weekend. My hopes were met, with what was one of the bigger Hendrickson hatches I’ve seen in quite some time. The bugs were so thick in fact, that when I went to disassemble my rod before heading back home, I noticed a pretty consistent coating of bug goo on my rod from swinging it through the air.
My camera has been acting up every since I dropped it last year, especially when trying to use macro mode or taking pictures in low light. Excuses aside, here are a couple pics:
Tried to capture the thick hendrickson hatch coming off
Most of the Hendricksons had the typical yellow egg sac, though it fell off the one above before I snapped the picture. Apparently I haven’t fished this hatch in a while, because my supply of Hendrickson flies was abysmal – I only had a few spinner imitations which were too small. So instead, I tied on my goto Red Humpy and managed to hook up with a few small browns. Nothing spectacular, but it was a start.
Well, trout season is officially over here in southern Ontario, which means my fishing days are going to be limited to some remaining warm water fishing (bass, pike) and possibly some steelhead fishing if I can manage to find a place and time where the crowds aren’t too bad.
My wife graciously agreed to let me spend way too much time on the water this past weekend, to finish off the trout season. I took Friday off work and managed to get out for three consecutive days, all of which were spent on different sections of my favourite local river. By the way, you’ll notice that I rarely mention river names or locations. This is on purpose, in an effort to avoid random lazy people from typing a couple words into Google and going away with sensitive and hard earned fishing locations. If you really want to know where I fish… well, I probably won’t tell you unless you’re family or friend 🙂 But, you’re more than welcome to ask.
Anyway, on with the report!
Friday, September 28th
Friday was supposed to be a full day of fishing, but I slept in a bit more than I would have liked and as usual, I needed to do some last-minute fly tying to top up my box. The main ties included a bunch of Red Humpy dry flies (which are always productive on this river), as well as a number of Simulators and a couple Gartside Gurglers for a bit of night fishing.
Lots of Stimulators in sizes 12-14 would be the main go-to fly during the days
Gartside Gurgler (size 6) for hopefully enticing some hungry Browns at night