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Week of April 7th: Opening Day River Report

Short story: people are fishing!  Downtown Califon smells of bacon frying on the riverside grill. The shop is not the hotbed of license sales like in the day of yore, but we are open and are ready to serve all of your 2024 Spring Trout Season needs. After hurricanes, floods, and now earthquakes - we are ready for everything. First, the report.

Last weekend was gorgeous and fishing was hot.  The gorge and other TCAs were not overly crowded and the trout were on Hendrickson nymphs and emergers. Our river did not yield the hatch I fished in PA last Friday, but the trout really seemed excited for Hendrickson imitations.  We have several varieties in the shop and I found a lot of luck with Kavanaugh’s emerger pattern trailed by one I learned to tie watching a video from Davie McPhail.  John Collins' Electric Hendo nymph and Hendo Softy are excellent patterns with a very similar profile. 

Then, of course, the rains came.  What can we say? April showers? Opening day at the movies? Well, the South Branch is fishing, but you’d do well to load up on split shot, use a sinking line, or heavy streams or tungsten nymphs.  There is no doubt the fish are here and the rivers are stocked!  The question is finding the right spot to fish.

Before I opened this morning, I went to the KLG and was the only car in the upper lot at around 6:30.  The water is clearing up and I brought one to the net - after changing from dual rig (same Hendo combo) to a streamer.  A few others came up to take a look, but none took the fly.

One my way out I passed two folks heading in and there was one other car in the lot.  Driving up River Road to the shop, the anglers were waiting patiently for 8AM to strike.  I am serious when I say town smells like bacon!  High water is not enough to postpone some traditions.

The sun should be out for the first few days with a really nice day coming on Tuesday!  Some clouds and rain return mid week, but from a fly perspective, this creates opportunities for some BWO action on Wednesday.  If you have not dressed your floating line or stopped in for some Catskill style Adams’, do not delay.  The fly case is fully loaded for the hatches to come.  Be ready to match it!

Grannom caddis will climb through the increased flows.  If you have fished around here for a while, you know what this means: LaFountain Sparkle Caddis Pupae!  One of the most effective flies, in my esteem, ever created.  The color is the key and right now the emerging Grannom caddis are a bit lighter than their in flight brethren, according to my favorite aquatic insect site,; the emerging caddis retains the light green coloration of the larvae and changes to a darker green with brownish gray wings once in the air.  The tent shape of the wings is mimicked with deer or elk hair. Our new line of Nature’s Spirit has exceptional patches in several hues to create the perfect caddis wing.  The SBR boasts both a light and dark Grannom caddis so choose a gray and a brown or black when preparing your fly box and see which one works. A soft hackle Caddis emerger doesn’t hurt to have either: 

When the water is up, like it is now and may be for a few more days, streamers are a good choice. The Grey Ghost is an elaborate and elegant fly - and is still regularly priced! Wooly Buggers and Mops move like streamers, so after a swift run through a narrow channel give a few pulls back up stream.  You may find the change of direction gets the fish moving.

Trout Fest is a few short weeks away, so call your family and friends for a day out in Califon.  There will be music, food, fishing and non fishing vendors and games for kids and adults.  

Patience is a virtue when fishing with a fly.  The crowds and the flows will subside and, once the clouds clear, the bugs and sun will return. Soon the mayflies emerge  in great abundance and Spring will be in full swing.

See you out there.

Roy B.


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