On behalf of all of us here at Shannon's, I would like to thank all of our customers for your encouragement and support during this COVID-19 crisis. We continue to serve you, in a modified way. Please call or email us with questions and orders. Hopefully it won't be long before we can welcome customers new and old back inside to our historic shop on the banks of the South Branch here in Califon in some manner which keeps in mind the new reality we are all dealing with.
The good news is that trout fishing is open and the state has stocked a lot of trout, I mean hundreds of thousands of fish in fact holding back only about 48,000 of the 575,000 that are annually released each spring.... Anglers are commonly catching double digit numbers on area streams and these fish are really eating bugs this year and the recent rains have spread the fish out.
Normally, folks can come into the shop and check out all the new gear and angling news in person. Many of you have enjoyed my contribution to the Black River Journal, a column entitled "What's Hatching". I am happy to say that the entire spring issue is available online at www.blackriverjournal.com. I want to thank Lee and Christian Wolfe for publishing my articles over the years and I'm happy to see this new format, it is a great website and full of interesting articles on the history, culture and lifestyles of our beautiful area here in the western New Jersey Highlands.
This year we've had to deal with some supply chain issues but I'm proud to say we have some great new items that people are responding to. The Tremont and East Prong wading boots and Rocky Run waders from Chota have been affordable and very popular. People are really enjoying our selection of Fishpond vests and packs and the high quality carbon fiber Nomad nets. We also have a nice array of wooden ghost mesh nets starting at an affordable $39.00. Coming in to the dry fly and upper Delaware seasons, we have a very good selection of Winston fly rods, you have to cast one to really appreciate them but let me know and we'll make a time convenient for you. Their performance matches their beauty. The Cortland Nymph, Douglas DXF and Fenwick Aetos nymph rods have also been very popular. As always we have thousands of flies, restocked weekly and from what you're telling us; they are lots of catching fish. I've got the Shannon's Fly and Tackle Instagram page going check it out Shannon's Fly and Tackle. Follow us and we'll follow you back!
As we move towards the end of April it is a good time to look back and look forward. The weather started off unseasonably warm and the Hendrickson hatch was in full swing fully two weeks earlier than normal. It was a good hatch this year, not phenomenal as the latter stages of the hatch were marked by cooler, wet weather. As a matter of fact, streams were low right through Easter Sunday. The Grannom hatches have been very good on the South Branch and especially on the Musky which is know for its prolific hatches of this early caddis. Blue Quills, Paraleptophlebia adoptiva made their spring appearance but a strong showing this year has been by the various close cousins of mayflies; the Baetis species we know collectively as Blue Wing Olives. Using a small Pheasant Tail Flashback earlier in the day and adding a grey or olive RS2 as an emerger and either an Adams Parachute or BWO in sizes 18-20 in the mid to late afternoon has also been a solid strategy all month. There are several species of Baetis which are especially common on alkaline (high PH) waters such as we have here in western New Jersey. They hatch in broods throughout much of the entire season getting progressively smaller but nonetheless forming an important source of food for trout. In a coming post, I will explain why knowing a little Latin can be very useful on the water.
We are now officially in what John Collins and I call the "Tweener Time" because the Hendrickson hatch is over on local waters (though just revving up in the Catskills) and the Sulphurs are still a couple of weeks away. We will probably see some March Browns Maccaffertium vicarium starting to appear over the next week or so. These large, size 10-12 mayflies will hatch sporadically all day and on some streams there can be enough of them to interest the trout. They are big, slow and clumsy getting off the water. Caddis are the primary item on the trout's menu now. Grannom Caddis will continue to be on the water, many of them will be laying eggs in the afternoon. More Tan and Olive caddis will begin to hatch, the Spotted Sedge Hydropsyche spp. and the Green Sedge or Rhyacophila lobifera, respectively. The insects range in size from 14-18 with the larger sizes hatching earlier. The Apple Caddis, Brachycentrus appalachia is also known as the Shadfly because it hatches on the Delaware at the same time as the run of American Shad. Although the Elk Hair Caddis is an effective pattern, I believe more trout are taken on the emerging pupa. LaFontaine's Sparkle Pupa is a great pattern but some other very effective patterns include the Bird's Nest, Partridge and Olive Soft Hackle and the Soft Hackle Hare's Ear generally fished in sizes 14-16. I wouldn't be without a few Leadwing Coachman wet flies if you see some Grannoms emerging either.
Local Hatches 4/28/2020:
Morning 9-11 am:
Spotted Sedge Hydropsyche spp. Tan Elk Hair Caddis #14-18, LaFontaine's Tan Sparkle Pupa #14-18, Hare's Ear Soft Hackle #14-16, Tan Bird's Nest #14-18.
Green Sedge Rhyacophila lobifera Olive Elk Hair Caddis #14-18, LaFontaine's Olive Sparkle Pupa #14-16, Partridge & Soft Hackle #14-16, Olive Bird's Nest #14-18, Henryville Special #14-16
Midday through Late Afternoon 12 noon - 5pm:
Caddis may continue to hatch. see above
Blue Wing Olive Baetis levitans, interclaris, quebecensis, etc. RS2, BWO, Pheasant Tail Nymph #18-20
Grannom Brachycentrus numerosus Henryville Special, JK's Grannom, Peacock Caddis #16
March Brown Maccaffertium vicarium March Brown Deer Hair Emerger, March Brown dun #10-12
Baetis Spinners #16-20
Egg laying and spent Grannoms.
Tim's video this week is a Spent Caddis and I'm including a couple of classics, a Tan Elk Hair Caddis and a LaFontaine's Sparkle Pupa Caddis Emerger