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The 2017 trout-fishing has been open for just over a month now. So far, Mother Nature has not been cooperating with us fly fishermen. For much of this time, the Delaware River and its tributaries have been too high for good wading access, and the weather has been caught somewhere between winter and spring.
Over the last two weeks I have been drift-boat fishing the river with clients every day. Despite challenging weather conditions, the trout activity has finally shifted gears, and over the last few days the action has been improving in leaps and bounds.
If you have not wet a line yet, now is a good time to head out. Some of the recent action has been incredible, and it is finally becoming reliable.
This week, my guests have been crushing it. The streamer bite is in high gear now. In the areas where I have been floating you do not go very far without a big mature brown trout charging out at a properly fished bait-fish imitation.
The dry-fly action has also been good, especially late in the day. From late last week through early this week, the Hendricksons have been blanketing the water. At times, so many insects have accumulated that pods of trout have been crammed into small feeding lanes gorging themselves.
With the dry-fly and streamer bite improving rapidly, it’s no surprise that some trophy-sized fish have been coming to net. Every recent trip has produced a few 20-inch range brown trout.
At this time, the trout are hungry after a long winter of inactivity. It’s time to feed the beasts. Bite-sized bait-fish patterns are the way to go right now. I am rigging 3” to 4” bait-fish patterns on 20-lb. fluorocarbon leader material. The best action has come from very erratic retrieves. The best locations to target include along the banks, knee-deep riffle water and in the tails of the deeper pools. Small traditional and articulated streamer patterns are working well. The best colors have been black, olive and color combinations such as olive/white, black/white, brown/white.
Hendrickson duns are emerging en masse now from both the East and West Branches of the Delaware. These rivers are currently the best choice. From about 12 noon onward anglers can expect to find some surface activity; the peak of activity has been between 4 and 6 p.m. Along with the Hendricksons, you can expect to find Blue Quills, Quill Gordons, multiple species of caddis flies and a few March Browns. The exact species vary by the section of river, but you will find some activity everywhere.
On my recent trips there has been consistent action with the following dry-fly patterns matched to the insects present: traditional Catskill-style dries, comparaduns, CDC knock-down duns, CDC sparkle duns and rusty spinners. Sizes #12 and #14 have fished best.
If you are heading out in the next few days, remember that the waters are still very high for early May. The most wadable water is in the Delaware tributaries. TheBeaverkill and Willowemoc are in good shape. There is some limited access in the East and West Branches. The main-stem Delaware is far too high for wading at this time. Wade safe and good luck!