Well, the good times must end eventually. The bugs and the fish will remain to tease and entice, but if you are a practitioner of Catch and Release, or want to ensure an abundance of fish in the Fall, it is time to consider flows and temperatures. First, the good news!
We have the ability to check water flows before we fish! Follow us on Instagram for the morning flow report. The flow numbers become obvious when you can match the number with the river bank and build a memory from year to year (the chart also lets you compare averages from previous years). As less water moves through a cubic foot of space per second (cfs) the river goes down and fish are forced to move; less water means less space for fish to find cover and comfort, two of the big Cs. If the temps are ok (I like 67 or below), game on! It is easier to locate and spot fish, providing dry fly anglers a magical experience as the entire process of drifting a fly, moving a trout, witnessing the takes, and maybe landing the fish plays out right before us! Low flows also reveal the structure we navigate through during the other seasons and we can make mental notes of the contours of our favorite haunts.
More good news: a general temp can be found on our daily reports. This is more important for ethical fishing than the flows. If the water temperature reaches 70 degrees: game OFF. Yes, everyone has their own ceiling for fishing, but for this report 70 is the absolute ceiling. The reason is the diffusion of O2. There is so little oxygen in warm water, a trout can not recover from being caught. Even those that swim away may not be able to pull enough oxygen from the warm water to live. The low flow from lack of rain puts stress on the fish but high temperatures will kill them.
Bottom line - carry a thermometer and go fish for bass or pan fish on sultry, hot, sunny days when common sense suggests it's too hot for C&R! More on warm water tactics next week.
We still have time left this Spring thanks to the cool nights and some temperate days. The gamut of bugs remains relatively unchanged, with the addition of Drakes and terrestrials! Green Drakes (Ephemera guttulata) are famous in the West and bountiful in the Catskills. If you have never heard of the Coffin fly, it is worth a google search and trip to the West Branch. We do not have a such hallmark hatches here in NJ, but we do have drakes in green and brown! Isos and the smaller sulphur brood (Ephemeralla dorothea) will be around a while longer and flying ants, beetles, and eventually grasshoppers will be added to the menu.
My personal experience this week was limited, but I was able to get out a few times and caught some fish. My buddy Justin recommended using a midge dropper behind emerger patterns, but kept his indicator on, to improve hook ups. The sips are quick and this method gives a leg up. If you missed it, Tightlines productions released more footage of feeding fish. The time a morsel is in a mouth is miniscule, so use all the help available! The first fly out is usually a dry I can see - an Iso or parachute sulphur - recently drakes - but after a dozen or so drifts, I start downsizing. Most of the fish in the evening come on BWO (#18 - 22) or RS2 (#16 - 22) in grey, yellow or black. Zebra midges and little puff nymphs with an individual plume of CDC represent the tiniest insects we most likely can not see.
I was perusing the archives of reports and recalled Jim used to provide a hatch chart for the time of day. I’ll try to bring those back and for our first will be a call back to the 2019 report for June 16th. It is reassuring to see parity with the bugs in 2023!
(new for 2023 - Roy’s pre-dawn report)
First light to 9 am:
Blue Wing Olive Drunella attenuatta BWO #16-18
Griffith’s gnat #16 - 22
Olive or black wooly bugger (drift or strip) #14 - 10
White or olive zonker #12 - 10
Mickey Finn, South Branch Chub, Ken Lockwood Streamer #10-8
From the archives
Local Hatches 6/16/2019:
Morning 9-11 am:
Spotted Sedge Hydropsyche spp. Tan Elk Hair Caddis #14-18,
Green Rockworm or JC's Electric Caddis #14-18,
Green Sedge Rhyacophila sp.
Elk Hair Caddis Olive #14-16,
LaFontaine's Sparkle Pupa #14-16
Cream Caddis Psilotreta sp.
Tan Elk hair Caddis #18
Midday through Late Afternoon 12 noon - 5pm:
Grey Fox Maccaffertium vicarium Grey Fox #14
Hare's Ear or March Brown Nymph #14
Blue Wing Olive Drunella attenuatta BWO #16-18
Pheasant Tail # 18, RS2 #18
Baetis Emerger #16-18
Baetis species (Tricaudatus, interclaris, levitans, etc.) Adams Parachute, BWO, 18-20
Pheasant tail #18-20
Pink Lady Epeorus vitreus Sulphur #14, Sulphur Emerger #14, Len's Sulphur Nymph or Pheasant Tail #14
Slate Drake or "Iso" Isonychia bicolor Iso Parachute or Comparadun #12
Pale Evening Dun Epherella dorothea Sulphur #16-18, Sulphur Emerger #16-18, Pheasant Tail #16-18
Light Cahill Stenacron interpunctatum Light Cahill #12-14,
Golden Drake anthopotamous distinctus & A. ruffous Golden Drake #10-12
Yellow Drake Ephemera varia Golden Drake or Sulphur Comparadun #10-12
Large Golden Stonefly Isoperla Sp. Yellow Stimulator #10
-- Roy B.
Cover photo credit: A Personal Best Brookie from Conor, our afternoon employee in the shop.