Turning leaves and rising trout
It looks like the autumn of 2018 is going to be remembered as a high-water event in the Upper Delaware region. Our local rivers continue to run at much higher flow rates than what we are used to seeing in October.
Autumn is in the air here. The mountains are starting to show some beautiful colors and leaves have been falling steadily. Our local trout are active and there are plenty of insects emerging to bring the fish to the surface. This is great news for anyone with a drift boat—not so much for fishermen on foot.
Even at the current flow rates there is some opportunity. The Willowemoc, Beaverkill and Upper East Branch have some high-water wading opportunity. The best access is in the slower pools and more specifically in the tail-outs of these pools. The good news is that this is the exact place that the trout are feeding the best.
In drift boats, every day recently has offered plenty of opportunity with both streamer flies and dry flies. The last few days, all my guests have been killing it. We have had steady action every afternoon, casting dry flies to rising fish.
Our local rivers are now full of life. The large isonychia mayflies are emerging every day. These big bugs combined with the massive hatches of the smaller sized blue-wing olives have the trout’s attention. Most days the insect activity has been starting up in early afternoon. It does not take long before the trout notice and start feeding. On bright, sunny days the action may start a bit later. During cloudy, overcast conditions feeding can occur at any time.
At this time, most of the trout have moved to the slower pools and protected areas of the river. It is important to target this specific habitat to be successful.
With the high-water conditions, the fish have not been very selective or fussy toward fly patterns. Just about any darker-color dry fly will work if you match the size to the naturals on the water. I have been fishing traditional Catskill-style flies, parachute flies and cripple patterns, all with good success.
With all our local rivers running high, light line has not been necessary. Most days I have been rigging 12-foot leaders with either 4x or 5x tippet.
The streamer fishing has been excellent for the last month, and my guests have taken some impressive brown trout. High water is the best time to fish baitfish imitations. Streamer fishing is also easier on wade anglers during high water, since many fish move closer to the river banks. Currently my guests have been having the most success with baitfish patterns that are between three and five inches in total length. The best patterns have been bead-head woolly buggers, cone-head zonkers, clouser minnows and small articulated baitfish. Different colors work at different times, but the old saying, “dark fly, dark day and light fly, light day,” is still good advice. With the mostly overcast weather, black- and olive-based patterns have been steady producers. One tactic that has been successful for me is to fish two flies. I normally fish a heavier, larger fly with a much smaller fly as a teaser about 18 inches in front. The two flies really dance in the water and sometimes provoke far more strikes than one fly fished alone.
The best action with streamers has been during the initial hours after daybreak and toward dark. Fishing during falling rain has also been excellent.
From this point until the weather shuts us down, we can expect the fishing to remain very good.