Summer: hot days, warm, humid nights. July was a warm one for sure. People have been asking me: "How are the trout doing, when can we fish for them?" My answer is usually something like this: "The trout are fine as long as we don't fish for them when the water is over 70 degrees, but the bass are fine!" Also: Redington is introducing a new wader to replace the popular Pallix River chest and wading pants (MSRP $169.95 and $139.95 respectively). While supplies last they are 20% off.
Certainly, there are places to catch and release trout. The West Branch of the Delaware has an afternoon Sulphur hatch all summer and the Pennsylvania limestone spring creeks are holding temperature particularly well this year. Jersey streams are more on the margin. Due to abundant rainfall, we have good surface flows from small, cool tributaries and groundwater spring seeps. Fishing early in the morning is certainly the best strategy as temps are likely to be in the mid- sixties at sunrise. Tricos will be hatching overnight and the spinner fall which usually takes place in the early morning can get fish looking up. Such activity has been sparse so far but it will happen and continue through September. Isonychia and Light Cahills will be back shortly most evenings and I do believe that given the above average flows, terrestrial fishing using ant and hopper patterns will give anglers a pleasant surprise. Streamer fishing is also likely to be good once the weather breaks with trout targeting the young of the year forage fish. If we can get temps to moderate slightly, evening lows down to 57-60 degrees and daytime highs in the low 80's will bring both the morning and evening trout back in force. Meanwhile for this week, what are the options?
The Delaware River smallmouth action is best at this time of year in terms of sheer numbers of active fish. If river levels allow, action can be excellent. The middle and lower portions of the North and South Branches of the Raritan offer good mixed bag fishing for smallies and panfish along with some oversize carp. I like using simple patterns for this fishing, Woolly Buggers, poppers and for the carp, a variety of rubber legged nymphs with stout hooks.
My current favorite option during the warm days of summer is to fish local ponds for Largemouth Bass and panfish. Action is consistent and some of the bass are running 3-4 pound range. It's amazing how many nice bass are in local ponds. Bigger fish are always a possibility. I've hooked larger fish but haven't yet broken the 5 pound mark, but there is still time! My weapon of choice is the #2 or #6 Double Barrelled Bass Popper; Hareline has been perfecting this fly and it catches fish. We should have more of these in a few days as I interrupted this report to take care of this little detail! Trout anglers should keep a couple of things in mind. First of all, these fish aren't usually leader shy. I'm using a 9' 2X leader or equivalent. A 10 lb 9' Steelhead leader is what is on my rod currently. For the larger fish, I recommend stiff 6-8 weight rods as poppers aren't the most aerodynamic flies ever devised. This is important. You need to give the bass a moment to eat the fly, when you feel the weight set the hook. As trout anglers, we are used to lightning fast strikes. With bass, slow it down just a bit.
Local Hatches 8/06/2019:
Morning 5-10 am:
Trico Trorythodes spp. Trico #22-24
Summer Blue Quill Paraleptophlebia mollis Adams or Blue Quill #18-20 Use small #18-20 Pheasant Tails!
Spotted Sedge Hydropsyche spp. Tan Elk Hair Caddis #14-18, Green Rockworm or JC's Electric Caddis #14-18, LaFontaine's Sparkle Pupa #14-18
Green Sedge Rhyacophila sp. Elk Hair Caddis Olive #14-16, LaFontaine's Sparkle Pupa #14-16
Blue Wing Olive Drunella cornutella BWO #18-20 Pheasant Tail # 18, RS2 #18-20, Baetis Emerger #18
Light Cahill Stenacron interpunctatum Light Cahill #12-14, Hare's Ear #14
Golden Drake anthopotamous distinctus & A. ruffous Golden Drake #10-12
Sulphur Stenonema rubrum Sulphur #12
Hex Litobrancha atrocaudata and L. rigida Ausable Wulf #10
Little Golden Stonefly Isoperla Sp. Yellow Stimulator #16
This week's videos: The GFA Hopper & an episode concentrating on bass from one of my favorite shows, The New Fly Fisher