Unofficial and anecdotal reports are in - and opening day was a great day on New Jersey Rivers and ponds! Local anglers swapped stories with good people from New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. I may say the flies were taking the fish in greater numbers than worms or other methods as the shop saw spin fishermen asking for flies that would work with their gear. We hope they’ll be back for a three weight Cortland nymphing rod or new Douglas five weight with a Lamson reel. There really is something special about a trout on a fly rod…
The major Hendrickson hatch was put down by some cool, or downright cold, and windy weather in the early last of the week. Some of these size #14 to #16 Mayflies can be found in garages or windowsills, but this week’s warm weather should kickstart the Mayfly flow.
The Caddis hatches, however, have been spectacular! Come in for Grobert’s caribou caddis, Kavanaugh’s shad fly, or before they start swimming for the surface, Kayla’s sexy Walt’s worm.
As usual, early AM anglers may select midges, zebra, WD40, rainbow, Al’s rat, pre-dawn and I’d expect small BWO or a Griffith’s gnat can entice the sippers along the banks of pools or in the runs and riffles. Slow drifts with a wooly bugger, mop fly, or squirmy can be deadly in slower moving, deeper water and around rocks. Give those (NEWLY ARRIVED!) South Branch chub and Ken Lockwood streamers some action to get fish moving when waiting for the coming midge or caddis hatch.
By mid-day, especially if and when the water gets to around 51 degrees, look for trout reacting to emerging insect activity. Boils and backs are a good sign to switch to a dry dropper rig, or stay consistent with a Lafontaine Sparkle pupa with a RS2 trailing about 12 to 18 inches behind. The insects are still small and darker colors seem to work best.
These are the late afternoon and early evenings to find a run or pool and just sit. Watch the rising trout before you cast. Remember - it is best to work one trout rather than throw flies after each rise you see. Instead, note the span between each take. Slowly wade in, watching one spot. Stand still for a few more rises and then make your first cast. Try to get the fly about 2 feet about the spot and give it ample time to settle and float over where you saw the fish working. Be patient and persistent. If it is not working after several drifts, take a few more breaths before you cast again with a smaller fly or different color, or, start over with a new target.
The store is well provisioned with the flies that work now and in the coming weeks. We have several locally tied and proven patterns available, as well as the tried and true Spring selection. If you are in a rush, our grab-and-go cups offer everything you’ll need for a good day on the water - from river bed chromonid to Mayfly imitation.
On April 15th, we'll be holding TroutFest 2023 in the Califon Island Park from 12-4. Bring the whole family for a day of live music, food, vendors (fishing and crafts), a kids' fishing derby (free!), casting clinics, tying demonstrations, and more! Register for the fishing derby here, and see the entire flyer here.
-- Roy B.
(Cover photo: wild brook trout caught by Conor D.)