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Wild, Native, Holdover, and Stocked - October Eighth, 2023

It is the weekend before stocking begins - the first fish will head out Tuesday the 10th, early in the morning, and the last truck wraps up a week later - Tuesday the 17th. Check your local listings for the precise day for your favorite river, pond, or lake.

Many anglers are eager to get out before the stocked Rainbow Trout are introduced in the hope that a native Brook Trout, wild Brown or holdover Rainbow might be found. One of these easily identifiable fish taking a fly mimics a more natural experience. The pristine colors and heartier fight from a fish born in the river is undeniable, especially after dutifully waiting for ethical conditions to return. It’s a long summer for some anglers and, somehow, the introduction of hatchery born trout detracts from the value of the setting or effort put into catching a fish. To each their own, I suppose! I love them all - the wild, the native, the holdover, and I do welcome stocked fish, too! Are stocked fish easier to catch than a wild one? Well…I’ve been skunked on plenty of days when the river is “full of fish” after a stocking. So what gives?

It depends on the fish. I am always shocked when I see a fish eat my fly. Shocked! I guess I am less shocked if it is a recently arrived Rainbow with their stubby fins and doleful look in their eye. Do they seem to realize their hatchery days are over? I am most shocked by the wild (not native, Brown trout were brought here) Brownies that are either lazy or super selective; I cannot tell which describes their behavior. Brook trout, when I find them, seem eager and unselective; it is their quickness that makes them hard to catch. This variety of experience is why I keep coming back - as confident as I feel loading up the car or lacing up my boots or walking to the stream and seeing four fish rise before I get there, there is simply no guarantee a day will be one of those days.

So how do we begin? With a few minutes just watching the water when we get to the place we are going to fish. If I do not see any life, I simply start fishing whatever fly happens to be on my line from the last time out. If I see bugs or fish feeding on the surface, a Caddis, Elk Wing or Deer Hair, will be first up with an RS2 or WD40 trailing behind. If these are ignored and lips and sips are still happening, I try an ISO, BWO, or maybe an RS2 or just a midge in the foam. These will either bring a fish to hand or put them down. Remember to cast at least two feet about the rise form. Some mends and adjustments before the strike zone are often as challenging as the cast itself, but the goal is to have a drag free drift before the trout even sees the fly. Part of the challenge is letting a “bad” cast or poor drift run its course before picking up the line again.

From there, I start sinking the fly and move to emergers or a wet fly. A down-and-across cast is effective for a wet fly, as the tension will help you see the strike in your line if you do not feel it, too, and the “Leisenring lift” as you complete the drift can bring the feeding trout shooting out the water for some aerial acrobatics. A longer pool or a more desirable, longer drift requires an upstream cast. Here, the tight line is maintained by stripping in slack line as the indicator approaches, keeping a super high stick as the fly passes in front, and the interplay of lowering the rod tip and shaking out line to keep the whole rig moving evenly as the drift runs its course - ending again with the Leisenring Lift. Imagine trying to keep ALL of your fly line off of the water when fishing an indicator - you are moving line from the indicator to the tip to your line hand. Watch that indicator - it should not budge and travel in a straight line through the thalweg, or the line you imagine the fish to be holding near the river bed. This is the same technique as nymphing with a Euro rig, but I imagine one extra point of contact, the indicator, rather than the straight shot down to the heavy perdigon.

Many, many people (and they are right) will say to go with a nymph before the streamer. In fact, most may begin with the nymphs rather than the dry - certainly the Euronymph crowd - and their numbers of fish caught attest to this practice. Down, heavy, and deep is where fish want to be with colder water, lower Fall flows, and the protection such pools provide. But I am always one to challenge conventional thinking. If the dry flies and the wets are not getting things moving, I reach for the streamers next. I may reposition myself to get a cast over a seam and bubble line and then strip my bugger or streamer up the column and on each side of a column. Finally, I probe the depths with a bead head nymph or, when all else fails, a heavy mop or squirmy. I often wonder if starting on the river bed and working up to the dry is better. Any theories? I’d love to hear them.

See you out there.

Roy B.

Similar to previous hatch chart but emphasis on Caddis and BWO's.

Morning - Afternoon until 2 pm:

Trico Tricorythodes Trico #22

Green Sedge Rhyacophila spp. #12-14 Henryville Special, Olive LaFontaine's Sparkle Pupa #14-16, Baetis sp. (Vagans, Levitans etc.) RS2 Grey, BWO #18-22, WD 40 #18-22, Pheasant Tail Nymph #18-22 Adams, BWO #18-22

Midges Black Zebra Midge, Red Zebra Midge, Rainbow Warrior #18-22

Late Afternoon-Dusk:

Dot Wing Sedge Neophylax spp. #14-18 Tan Elk Hair Caddis, Tan LaFontaine's Sparkle Pupa #14-18

Slate Drake aka. Iso. Isonychia bicolor Iso Dun or Parachute #12-14 Iso Emerger , Iso Nymph, Prince or Zug Bug

October Caddis Pycnopsyche spp. Orange Stimulator #12

Cream Cahill Maccaffertium modestum Light Cahill, Sulphur #14

Little Evening Yellow Leucrocuta hebe Sulphur #18-20

Baetis sp. (Vagans, Levitans etc.) Adams, BWO #18-22


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