A Slow Start to River Fishing?
It’s been a very slow start on the rivers this year, the recent cold weather has certainly delayed the fly hatches, and as we move into May I certainly get the feeling we are still fishing in April conditions. River fishing at this time of year is often difficult, here are some top tips to hopefully guide you into some trout.
Living in the north of England things are often slow to start on my local rivers, I normally delay the start of my river fishing season until around the middle of April, however, this year it has been considerably later due to stillwater competitions and genuine bad luck with the weather. Still, it’s always nice to finally get out for a few days and target some wild brown trout on my local rivers.
When river fishing early season, it is important to choose the correct flies and tactics to be successful. Fish feeding habits are dependant on the weather and hatches can be sparse and quick through the warmest part of the day.
One thing I have noticed from early season river fishing is the number of ‘out of season’ grayling I have been catching, despite the trout significantly outnumbering grayling in my local rivers. This has been very noticeable in the morning before any hatch has begun and reflects the fact that the water is still very cold. Grayling are out of season until the middle of June, making it good practice not to touch the fish when hooked. I simply release them by flicking the hook out of their mouth, or in the case of larger grayling, I net them and remove the hook, without touching them.
Early season fishing usually revolves around the olive. These hatch from mid-morning onwards and will often get the fish feeding. In my experience, trout tend to start the season in the slower deeper water where they will target the emergers and duns for short periods of time. You need to be patient and wait for a fish to move before getting into position and presenting a suitable imitation in it’s path. The Fulling Mill CDC Olive Emerger pattern is a great ‘early doors’ fly for targeting single risers. As a general rule, if you can see adult flies being taken the fish will usually respond to any half realistic pattern. If, however, you see a rise of no obvious nature it may be that the fish is feeding on emergers or, taking ascending nymphs just below the surface. If the fish are taking the nymphs under the surface, a spiders or an unweighted olive nymph fished upstream and across to a riser will often result in a confident take.
River Fishing Flies?
As the weather begins to warm, the trout will begin to move into the shallow riffles to feed on the nymphs as they hatch. At this happens, you can fish these areas of the river with light nymphs or the duo setup. An effective way to fish is with an olive nymph imitation such as a the Fulling Mill Pheasant Tail Mary, Pheasant Tail Jig or KJ Blob Tail Nymph under a larger dry fly. The SR Duo Special Klink has been an outstanding pattern for me over the years. Although the nymph will account for the majority of fish the dry fly will often be taken with great confidence, particularly if a few of the larger insects such as Brook duns or March browns are make an appearance.
Another fly which is worth carrying at this time of year is the Grannom, an early season sedge which can really get the fish on the feed, particularly on warmer days. For this hatch you will need an imitation as if the fish become preoccupied they will not take the standard olive imitations. Make sure you have a few dry and Grannom emerger imitations at the ready if they are a feature on your local rivers.
Whilst we have been delayed this year there is no doubt spring has been arriving recently and we will move into my favourite time of the years on the river when a whole range of insects become available and the olives are joined by the wide range of black gnats, midge, hawthorns, caddis and the famous mayfly. Combine this with fish moving into the faster runs where they can be targeted with a wide range of modern nymph methods and it really is the time of year I really look forward to most.