When I returned from Florida on Wednesday the trees were in full bloom and the temperature in the 60s. These weather changes tend to signal an improvement for Fly Fisherman luck on the river. No longer are the stocked Trout the quarry of worm dunkers.
On Saturday, Leah and I headed out to the river. After the normal stops and starts we made it to Dale’s Market and purchased delicious river lunch ingredients. Then we hopped in the FJ and headed over to my favorite spot. Surveying the situation on the ground, bright sun, low breeze, and small May Fly hatch with little surface feeding activity; I opted to first try my Wooly Bugger in the shady spots by the bridge. I quickly pulled out a little Smallmouth Bass and went for more.
The water is in its optimal CFS range now, 116 today, 150 last Monday, this makes it easy to spot actively feeding Trout. I say actively feeding as the former hatchery residents have now learned to eat wild food and avoid Power Bait. Nymph fishing was definitely the preferred method as they do not appear to be eating surface hatches yet.
Unlike many regions with large natural reproducing populations of Trout, New Jersey has something of a spectacle for “Opening Day.” Normally, anglers prefer to fish in peace and solitude, especially when seeking the illustrious Trout. If you are seeking quiet, relaxation and seclusion, Opening Day is something to be avoided. Realistically, it’s as if the nation’s most densely populated state, hosts a riverside party one-day a year. Once you accept Opening Day for what it is, a spectacle, its actually quite enjoyable.
The MKFF crew arrived early to find upwards of twenty people assembled in one of our favorite holes. On numbers alone, we were able to establish dominance at the pool, effectively holding the “worm dunkers” at bay as they coveted the prime territory our troops were holding. Nick was hysterical, issuing minute-by-minute updates as to how close we were to 8AM.
Thirty minutes of casting into a moderate sized hole with ever increasing numbers of bait fisherman is enough to drive you mad. The cool temperatures in the previous week had also made the fish a little slow. We quickly voted to move on to less traveled waters.
Around mid-day Mark was able to cast off the skunk, pulling in a nice Brook Trout. Simultaneously, several miles and a few towns over, Mike caught his first New Jersey Brown Trout since moving to California mid-way through last year.
Once every bit of water in the state had been walked through uncountable times we decided to stop by Dr. Ed’s party for lunch. Every year he puts together a delicious lunch of Jambalaya, Smoked Trout and Jameson Whiskey. This year Mark added his Brook Trout to the smoker.
While everyone else slept, (after a long night of Opening Day festivities) I headed back to where we started. There may not be as many fish in the river on day 2; this is fine considering there are many less people. The weather was more cooperative, two days in the mid-sixties really livened up the Trout.
I took the time to set up a quality nymph rig out, using a Flashback Hare’s Ear Nymph and a Pheasant Tail, weighted with a small to medium sized sinker, the Trout wanted to feed! My rig quickly pulled up several small Brown Trout and more surprisingly a Perch!
As I was standing there, taking in the solitude, two children about 10 years old, walked to the other side of the river from me and took a cast. They watched quietly as I pulled up a Trout, no sooner had a minute gone by and they had a Trout on too! The one kid, wearing a pair of short Muck Boots, walks out into the stream and SPLASH, he face plants!. I chuckled to myself, it happens to the best of us, take a bath to land that Trout (He emerged from the water unharmed and holding his Trout).
This is the Part Two installment of MKFF’s Utah Fourth of July adventure; Part Three, Lapping the C, will be available later on in the week, including all of the pictures.
This blog entry is informational in nature; stream locations and identities are disguised to protect the innocent.
During the long hot summer, mountain streams remain cool, clear, and filled with beautiful Trout.
Reading the Water
As opposed to large streams and rivers, Trout residing in small mountain streams have less food sources available to them. Fortunately, this makes them especially inclined to eat a Hopper-Dropper combo. The Trout we were chasing after like to hold in several key locations:
Head or Tail of Pools
Deep Undercut Banks
Behind Large Rock Obstructions
What to Throw
There are several combinations that seem to work well on small streams. Small general nymph patterns similar to the Hare’s Ear, Pheasant Tail, and the Gunslinger work very well. I prefer to prospect with a Foam Ant or Hopper, with one of the aforementioned flies as a dropper.
Another nice option; is a Woolly Bugger or a small streamer. I used a Coffee and Black Bugger, which I spun up heavily weighted with lead. My small streamer of choice is always the Black Nosed Dace and/or the Mickey Finn.
A bad day Fly Fishing is better than a good day at work. Simply being out in the back country is enough to disengage and enjoy the scenery. Throw in a few 18 inch Trout, and Matt, Sam, and I had a great time.