With water temps warming up many of most fly fishers favorite bugs are becoming active. Currently on the middle Provo near where I live we have the infamous green drake (pictured above) hatch taking place. This hatch only hangs around for a few weeks out of the year. The large majestic mayflies seem to rise every fish in the river at one time or another. Masked by the drakes are many other hatches. These hatches may include PMDs, golden stones, and caddis flies depending on the day. Trout love these hatches because it means a water column filled with wriggling emerging insects and an abundance of adults on the water’s surface, both of which are accompanied by the greedy unquenchable appetite of trout. Similarly, we as anglers share this unquenchable lust, only ours is to catch the trout, not the bugs which they are after.
Having said that, an understanding of basic aquatic entomology has helped me in many instances. I’ll be the first to admit that trout have fooled me more times than I have fooled them, especially in hatch conditions. Below are a few resources that I believe to be handy in solving these deceptive mysteries:
Nothing compensates for time spent looking at the tiny creatures fish call food. Learn to recognize the major aquatic insects, spend a little time behind the vise tying the right imitations for the season, and you will increase your odds of fooling the many trout which you seek.
Baetis Nymph (Insect) and size 20 Iron Lotus Variation (Imitation)
All too often I find myself making the same mistake over and over again. I, like most, have a handful of reliable patterns that I am very confident in. I use them on most rivers, and more times than not they produce fish like a factory. However, on rivers that are heavily fished it is very important to fish flies that imitate the insects being selected for that day. Realistic patterns that are drab in color often do the best for me in tough situations when fish are being extra picky. I try to tie up, and carry a variety of realistic patterns that can be used in these situations. The available food for trout can change daily, or even hourly. Depending on the weather, time of year, and a thousand other variables, different insects become active at varying times. Stomach pumps and hand seines come in real handy when trying to figure out what the fish are preferring that day. Match things up right and you can expect your success to increase almost immediately.
Common River Routine:
Arrive and fish my confidence patterns. If they are working, great why change a good thing? Fish them until they stop producing.
If fishing is tough, take a seine sample of the river’s insects. Match your imitations to the real insects found. Then, fish hard until the first fish is caught.
Pump the stomach of the first fish and change fly patterns accordingly. Give those flies a valid effort before giving up on them.
Fish until success slows down, then pump another fish’s stomach. Change flies if the preferred food type has changes.
Note: Not every fish needs its stomach pumped. Only steal breakfast from one fish, lunch from another, and dinner from a third. If you can’t figure out how to catch fish by then, go home and build up some brownie points with the wife so you can go back and try again tomorrow.
There are many factors besides having the right fly that determine how many fish you catch. This is simple one more piece to the puzzle! Good luck, and tight lines!