Updated: Apr 17, 2020
Spring is here and we know this sounds crazy... why would any angler not look at a fishing report before their next weekend getaway? The answer is to make you better. We'll soon have a variety of hatches that vary constantly throughout the day. What worked 30 minutes ago will tell you very little about what's currently working, much less the day before.
Don't get us wrong, the fishing reports found online can give you a general idea of hatches and recommended patterns. However, every piece of information needed for a successful day on the water can be found on your own. There's something extremely rewarding about self-dissecting a piece of water, the hatch and what trout are keying on.
Here are our top tips to a successful day on the water this Spring (and year-round). No information here is new, but is often overlooked.
1) Chill Out
This is number one for a reason. If you rig up before getting on the river, your success will be limited. That's a good way to spend a frustrating 4 hours with no takes.
Pay close attention as you approach the water and take your time before rigging up. The weather, time of day, flows, water temperature, feeding behavior and active hatches will tell you a whole lot.
Seine the water below and above where you want to fish to see what's actively moving through the water. We like to seine at different water depths and then kick up a little dirt for the next seine. That way you can find out what is moving through the water and what else could be on the menu. Flip over a few rocks to see what else could be jarred loose for an easy meal during higher flows.
Watch the fish. First and foremost, are they feeding? Watch for suspended fish, flashes and open jaws. Far too may anglers spend valuable time targeting non-feeding fish. If they are feeding, pay close attention to their behavior and movement for clues on the stage of the fly they are eating. Where are they in the water column, how far are they moving, what type of rise are you seeing (if at all)?
2) Do Your Homework
A quick search can tell you primary hatches on almost any section of water for the time of year. Every stretch of water is different pending river health, average flows and geographic region. Challenge yourself by fishing new water as it will pay significant dividends.
Once you have a solid understanding of the entomology, familiarize yourself with their stages, sizes, colors and imitations.
Pay extremely close attention to flows and weather. Have they been consistent, increasing or decreasing? How do they compare to historic averages? What has the weather been like lately? All of these items provide valuable insight on what trout may be eating.
Learn about barometric pressure, trout habits during flow increases or decreases, what hatches happen at different water temperatures, what time of day different species hatch, etc. This information will make or break your time on the water!
If you've taken the time with items 1 and 2, you're doing better than many anglers. If you're still struggling, it's time to make adjustments to your weight and depth.
Every riffle, run, pool and tailout is different. The rig you used in the previous section is irrelevant. Too much weight and depth and your fly is floating underneath the trout and will be ignored. Not enough and it won't catch their attention, nor will they be willing to move that far.
Lastly, a drag-free drift can never be overlooked. Everything else could be perfect, but if your fly isn't floating naturally it is going to be a rough day. Pay close attention to the current beforehand and plan your mends. Are you going to need to down mend, up mend or high stick? The first drift is always your best chance at fooling a trout, so give it your best shot from the start!