The stretch of mild weather is continuing and area rivers rose only moderately from the late week storm that brought a mix of wind, rain and cold snow. Water temperatures continue in the low forties which is well within the range of the trout's metabolism. This weather appears likely to hold for the next ten days or so. There will be a few cooler days in the thirties but perhaps a chance of a day or two in the fifty degree range as well. It has been a few years since we've had such decent conditions for winter trout fishing.
A few Early Black Stoneflies have begun to emerge. They will continue to appear sporadically over the coming weeks, with the strongest emergence usually in March. Meanwhile, the best action has still been on midges - Red Zebras, Black Zebras and small WD40's in sizes 18-22. The trout are still partial to egg patters as well as other attractor patterns such as the Mop 'n Glow and the various worm patterns. Small Pheasant Tails and scuds are also catching fish. On the warmer days keep those small Griffith's Gnats, BWO's or Adams dries handy as some of the trout may be found feeding on emerging and spent midge adults usually beginning in the afternoon and continuing until dusk. I've been catching trout on streamers such as the Woolly Bugger or a Zonker pattern fished slowly but some days the fish are willing to chase and sometimes they're sulking.
Our fly tying program continues and we're looking forward to Sunday February 23rd for our Sparse Grey Matter Fly Tying Fest which we sponsor in conjunction with Dette's Flies. It really is just a gathering of fly tyers from around our region. The event will be held in the Califon Volunteer Firehouse banquet room from 10am until 3pm. The public is invited and the event is free. Groups and individuals who wish to attend as tyers should call the shop to make sure we can guarantee space for all who would like to demonstrate their skills. Later this month and into March, we will also be conducting our annual Hotstove Fly Fishing Seminars at the Raritan Inn. Presenters include Matt Grobert, Tim Flagler, John Collins and myself on four separate evenings which include a hot meal prior to the presentation. It is a perfect small group setting with lots of useful information on the tactics and feeding patterns of trout as well as emphasizing understanding the organisms that trout prey upon.
Here's Tim's take on a couple patterns for the Early Black Stone: