Fly Fishing for Trout

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Date: 6/26/18

Time: 6 - 10 am

Location: South Branch of the Raritan River, Ken Lockwood Gorge

Weather: Partly Sunny Sky, Morning Air Temperature 56, Water Temperature 64 - 65, Flow: 51 CFS (Mean for the South Branch: 211 CFS), Light Wind, Moon 98% Visible

Catch and Thoughts: I thought of today as my last Jersey trout fishing trip before summer sets in. In July and August, our freestone rivers can get low and warm. This might be old news to readers, but you don't want to fish for trout when the water reaches 70 degrees or higher. A lot of fly fishers, including myself, lay off once it hits 68. At these higher temperatures, water holds less oxygen and the fish get stressed. Even if you catch and release a trout in warm water, they may die.

On this day, cool temperatures were predicted. I arrived at 6 am and my dashboard was reading an air temperature of 56. Good stuff. The water was 64 - 65, so I was in the clear. But at 51 CFS, it was low. I stuck to my plan of contact nymphing and given the low water, I ended up doing pretty well. That's what I tell myself anyway.  

I landed 3 fish and lost another to a bad knot. Live and learn. I also either pricked another fish, or just bumped it with my rig. I thought I had a take, I set, and knocked a good size fish off balance and saw it.   

The two flies that worked were weighted and tied on size 14 jig hook - a Frenchie with a pink hot spot and a Sexy Walt's Worm.

Now's the time to either travel for trout or fish for other fish.

Date: 4/13/18

Time: 5:00 - 5:45 pm

Location: Local Pond

Weather: Sunny, Warm, and Windy, Air Temperature 75, Water Temperature 62 - 63, Wind WSW and Stiff, Moon 11% Visible, Pressure 29.91

Catch: After another week of unseasonably cold days, today felt incredible. I'm writing this on Saturday, 4/14, and it's another beauty - sunny and warm. Unfortunately, the temperature is dropping tonight. The upcoming week isn't supposed to break the low 50s.

During this short trip, I managed a beautiful little pumpkinseed sunfish, a small largemouth bass, and a black crappie. I was connected to a better largemouth, but he shook my barbless fly. I fished a black bead head mini bugger on 3X tippet.

Last summer I was encouraged to fish mini buggers by the crew at the Housatonic River Outfitters.

I fished the Housatonic on September 3, 2017. My New Jersey brain was still in summer mode. I expected to be targeting smallmouth bass in a warm river. But by September 3rd, Connecticut was already well into a string of cool days and cold nights. The river's water temperature was falling. This caused the trout in the thermal refuges to spread back out into the main river.

After getting a license, some flies, and guidance at the shop, I swung bead head mini buggers and had a blast with both smallmouth and trout. The mini bugger has become a favorite fly.

Here's my best picture from that Housy trip, 9/3/17.

Date: 3/31/18

Time: 8:00 am - 1:30 pm

Location: South Branch of the Raritan River, Ken Lockwood Gorge (parked on the downstream end and worked upstream)

Weather: Bright Sun and Clear Sky, Air Temperature 57, Water Temperature N/A (forgot my thermometer), Flow: 166 cfs (Mean for the South Branch: 211), Light Wind, Moon 99% Visible

Catch: With bad weather predicted for the rest of the week, 3/31 looked like the best day to fish. It turned out to be a really satisfying trip.

I lost a lot of flies and tied a lot of knots. I scared myself with some of my wading decisions. I almost buckled my wading staff. But in the end, I landed 4 or 5 fish and connected with a few more that came unbuttoned. All stocked rainbows.

Today finally felt like spring. There were multiple bugs in the air, but dark caddis flies were the most conspicuous. I didn't see a fish rise. All my fish were caught subsurface. Everyone I chatted with said the same.

Since we've had such a cold spring, I approached the day like winter. I fished double fly rigs under an indicator in deep, walking speed water. My favorite indicator nymph rig right now is straight from George Daniel's incredible book, Dynamic Nymphing. I take a 7'6" 4X Rio Powerflex leader and cut 8" off the tippet end. This makes the leader 6'10" overall, but still quickly tapers down to 4X. To this 4X tippet I knot a tippet ring. The strike indicator goes above the ring. Now I can attach long sections of 4X, 5X, or even 6X tippet directly to the ring and still maintain a proper taper. Plus, since it's just tippet below the indicator, the flies sink more quickly.

Like I said, I lost a lot of flies throughout the day. Here are the flies that worked for me.

These were freshly tied after I got home, left to right: #18 Zebra Midge with a Caddis Green Hotspot and 3/32 Tungsten Bead, #22 Midge Emerger (with this style of hook, it's a big #22), #14 Jig Prince with a CDC Collar (this fly is heavy), #16 Pheasant Tail and Partridge and a #16 Hare's Ear and Partridge with a Caddis Green Thorax.

With all the caddis in the air, I fished the soft hackles tied off the bend of the Prince Nymph and had some fish really take it hard.


And if periodic hang-ups didn't let me know I was on the bottom, this guy did.