Spring is almost here but you wouldn’t know that by looking out my backyard or yours for that matter. March’s saying, ” In like a lion ” is definitely true this year. Hopefully it goes ” Out like a lamb.” At least we have plenty of snowpack. A friend of mine who has an excellent blog, Rowan Lytle of Connecticut Fly Angler, recently wrote about all the benefits of having snowpack melt for spring time. I would tend to agree. It melts more slowly and allows for seepage into our underground supplies, fills sink holes, and overall contributes to the water table in all the right ways, which is extremely important for Eastern Connecticut.
Just prior to our second and third nor’easter in 2 weeks, I was able to get some quality fish. Some were wild browns and one was a beefy holdover bow- a real testament to trout management areas, catch and release, and stricter fishing regulations on what type of tackle can be used.
Although I caught this guy nymphing a streamer, the rest were caught using wet flies that imitate the early stone fly.
I love using wets for this particular insect, more so than dries because I feel it is both effective and enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, I love skating a dry version of it, too, and seeing trout bust the surface for them. But in order to cover water and really work some ground, I think a cast of wets works the best. Since these stones are active and lively, a pair of wets actively worked over fish just makes a lot of sense and a ton of fun. too !
I sometimes will have a weighted nymph as my point fly and then tie in two other wet flies as my droppers . I will often put an attractor as my top fly. If conditions are right, I can see the attractor as my top dropper and judge what the rest are doing ( Connecticut allows for three flies maximum ). However, most of the time I just use two wets as a cast and work them over any likely fish holding water.
It is rewarding when you see the flash of a fish, or feel them hit the dropper, or see the ” curve ” of your line ” take up ” and then feel the weight and fight of a fish. Also, it is a great way to explore water you are not familiar with and find where fish are. I don’t hunt but a friend of mine equates blindly fishing wets to hunting rabbits….you are covering ground and all of a sudden…bam !
A variety of flies can mimic these guys. I like to have them in sizes 16, 14, 12. I will tie them in a variety of ways and colors. Currently they are a blackish, reddish, gray body with black to dun’ish colored legs and mottled wing, depending on where you are in the state and which river you are fishing. Anything that is dark in color with a traditional feather or quill wing will probably suffice since the trout will be looking up and keying in on active, moving flies. Here are some of the flies I recently tied and will use as soon as I can get out again.
Notice that they have a turkey or duck quill wing to them and/or are heavily hackled ? That is so they provide extra motion and movement. Admittedly, I am not the greatest tier so some of my proportions are off a bit…. fish zoned in on the active stones aren’t nearly as picky with proportions, especially when you are actively moving them- they don’t have the time to scrutinize them. In addition, the higher and faster water of spring ( definitely this year ) flows means that you can often get away with slightly larger sizes of flies and heavier hackled ones, too.
One final thought: Nymphing wets can be deadly at times as well. My buddy Joe will put shot on and nymph a pair of wets facing upstream and as they drift below him, he will let the current uplift them and then start to work them actively up through the water column with a hand and twist retrieve and/or bounce of the rod tip.
Good luck out there. Hopefully we won’t get a fourth nor’easter next week. Three in two weeks is unprecedented and is ENOUGH !