July can be summed up in one word - hot. While there were some nice warm water opportunities for fly fishing in our area, most of the trout action was on Catskill tail waters as well as on some PA spring creeks early in the morning. There were reports of Tricos on some area waters but on others they were absent. After a busy spring, trout fishing quickly went into summer mode. The Ken Lockwood Gorge was even closed down for two weeks during July due to rolling furloughs in our state government as a result of funding challenges associated with the continuing Covid-19 outbreak. With water temps over 70 degrees nearly every day this was actually a blessing for the trout.
It does look like our area is going to receive some rain via another tropical system early this upcoming week and temperatures should begin to moderate as well. Will it be enough to get the trout moving and will water temperatures be safe enough to fish are both open questions. I can say that the trout are surviving and I want to thank anglers for having the good sense to leave them alone in the heat. The trout are your resource and by leaving them alone you, the anglers, are exercising an enlightened self interest. The trout fishing will come back but we need some cool nights and significant rains first.
Meanwhile, what are some options? We've had good reports on river smallmouth action in both the Delaware and the branches of the Raritan system both in numbers and occasionally some larger 3-4 pound smallies have been caught. Schoolie stripers are available in the Delaware and hybrid stripers are available in Spruce Run Reservoir. Largemouth Bass and panfish have been providing solid action in area ponds and we've enjoyed success especially in some of the ponds to be found in the Hunterdon County Park system such as Mountain Farm and the Crystal Springs Natural Area located on Pleasant Grove Road in Lebanon Township. Definitely bring some poppers and we've just brought some more in but also try some streamers such as Lefty's Deceivers, the bass like them! Warm water fly fishing can be rewarding and I think is quite underappreciated. It is also not as easy as it looks. Trout anglers have to adjust tactics and habits such as striking only with the rod on a good bass for example. You really need to wait to set the hook and then use a strip set to guarantee solid hook penetration. Also, the larger bass of whatever variety, while they'll eat a popper at certain times of day, may prefer more subsurface prey so be ready with Woolly Buggers, Muddlers, crayfish patterns and imitations that imitate young panfish. Be ready with heavy tippets, OX-2X are appropriate for pond fishing and 1-3X for river smallies. When you want to fish in and around lilly pads, I'm running a 20-25 pound tippet on a 6 weight rod and that's the lightest rod for that work that I would use. Most of the time, you can get away with a 5 weight rod. An 18" Largemouth will usually run about 3-3 1/2 pounds, a truly worthy summer adversary.
So what have been doing around the shop? We've been restocking different items. This week it was fly tying and the Umpqua U series hooks have been popular. We started with threads and beads. This week we will get a shipment of tinsels, dubbing, feathers and fur. Our Winston and Galvan inventories are still healthy and Douglas rods have again been popular this year. If anyone is in the market for a Hatch reel we have a couple of models in the grey color that are going to replaced by a newer version shortly. Rio has revamped its popular fly line series and we've begun to see some of the new Rio Premier Gold fly lines. Korker and Chota boot inventory remains strong and we received a nice shipment of nets from Cortland and Fisknatt. Fall is right around the corner!
Local Hatches 8/02/2020:
Morning 9-11 am:
Spotted Sedge Hydropsyche spp. Tan Elk Hair Caddis #14-18, LaFontaine's Tan Sparkle Pupa #14-18, Hare's Ear Soft Hackle #14-16, Tan Bird's Nest #14-18.
Green Sedge Rhyacophila lobifera Olive Elk Hair Caddis #14-18, LaFontaine's Olive Sparkle Pupa #14-16, Partridge & Soft Hackle #14-16, Olive Bird's Nest #14-18, Henryville Special #14-16
Blue Winged Olive Drunella lata & cornutella Pheasant Tail Nymph #16-20, Blue Wing Olive #16-20
American Iron Blue Quill Paraleptophlebia mollis Blue Quill #16-20, Grey Flashback Hare's Ear #16
Trio Tricorythodes Trico #20-24
Midday through Late Afternoon 12 noon - 5pm:
Caddis may continue to hatch. see above
Blue Wing Olive Baetis levitans, interclaris, quebecensis, vagans. RS2, BWO, Pheasant Tail Nymph #18-20
Pale Speckled Wing Olive Callibaetis ferrugineous Adams, Blue Quill, BWO #16-18, Pheasant tail #16-18
Yellow Drake Ephemera varia Yellow Drake Parachute #10-12, Potomanthous nymph #10-12
Little Golden Stonefly Isoperla spp. Golden or Yellow stone #14 Yellow Sally dry #16
Light Cahill Stenacron ithaca & canadense Light Cahill #14-16
Hex Litobrancha rigida & atrocaudata Grizzly Wulff #10, Adams Wulff #10
Here are some interesting and productive summer patterns, a beetle and a Clouser Minnow.