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For fly fishermen who chase trout in the Upper Delaware River system, the first week of June has always been referred to as “Bug Week.” In most years, this week will offer the season’s most diverse selection of different active insect species.
This year is shaping up to be on par for about a normal Bug Week. If you are planning to fly fish in the coming days, it is advised to have a full box of flies with you.
In recent days I have been guiding my guests on both the Main Delaware and the East Delaware, and I have been seeing the variety of bugs increase. Right now anglers can expect to see March browns, sulfurs, green drakes, coffinflies, isonychia, Hendricksons, blue-wing olives, stoneflies, spinners and assorted caddisflies. These insects may appear in sporadic quantities in different river sections. Many times, multiple species will overlap on the water at the same time.
Overall, the best time to be looking for rising fish is during the last few hours of daylight, the period right at dark and just after dark is when the fish have been going wild. During periods of bright sunshine and hot weather, some of the peak periods of activity may shift to a more comfortable time for the insects. At this time, it may be well worth checking out your favorite stretch of river just after sunrise through about 10 a.m. Many times, the larger insects will both emerge and complete their spinner flights at this time of day.
Most of the larger insects that are now emerging from the Delaware will be found around the river’s faster sections. The key places to look for action are the transitional places where riffles or pocket water fade into the deeper pools. It does not take long for the trout to realize where the food is coming from, and they quickly move right into the buffet area.
With the trout now firmly established in the faster water, this is also a great time to prospect these waters during the non-hatch periods of the day. My favorite technique is to slowly wade these areas with a big dry fly making short casts into all the spots that look like they could hide a trout. Some of my favorite flies for prospecting include March brown and isonychia hackle wing cripples, stimulators, Wulffs and comparaduns. All of these flies float well and are easy to see in the choppy water.
The movement of the trout to the riffles also signals the start to our first real opportunity to nymph fish the non-hatch periods. Over the last two weeks whenever the water has been low enough I have had my guests working nymph rigs. When conditions are right, this technique can really run the numbers up. There is nothing more exciting than hooking a wild Delaware rainbow in the pocket water.
For this type of fishing I like to mix it up between indicator fishing and tight-line high sticking. I normally match the technique to water depth. I like the indicator method for water depths up to around five feet but will take the indicator off to probe deeper.
Currently fly choice is easy, using the match the hatch strategy. Big bead-head March browns, isonychia and stoneflies will get a lot of action. Traditional hare’s ear, pheasant tails and caddis pupa are also taking fish. I normally like to fish a triple nymph rig that consists of the big bead-head nymph followed by two smaller, lighter nymphs. This technique is very efficient in the faster shallow riffles.
All in all, the next few weeks are all about variety on the water.
Wade safe and good luck!