The month of April is gone and over with. Before the lakes lower their levels, there's a small window where fish start to come up the rivers as the temps rise. This is usually mid-April in the southern part of our state and late April in the Western Mountains. It's a REALLY short window. The first fish, usually some of the biggest, come up the river looking for food. The fishing days are long and slow, but you make those 200 casts to have that one shot at a monster. The smelt are starting to run and trout know that. As the water temps hit the lower 40's, the smelt make their spawning run and the trout follow them to corner them in the smaller river setting. Much easier to get them there than in the big lakes.
Then, all Hell breaks lose and the dams rush open. Coupled with natural runoff from the mountains, this can create some really epic flooding events and some really poor fishing waters. As I write this report, the Magalloway is sitting at about 4 times a fishable level, the Rapid is in the woods and the Andro is coming down quickly. The rivers to hit are the smaller rivers running into the big ones. The fish find refuge here and follow the food sources that will be more likely to hatch. Again, this is a REALLY short window, but the bigger fish will take over the prime spots and you have a chance at catching some of the biggest trout of the season. Streamers are the ticket. If you want to target smaller trout, and maybe the occasional larger trout, there are small march brown mayflies hatching right now in the later afternoon. Pretty fun to go from 35 degree air temps to 60 degrees and seeing those fish poke their noses out of the surface.
It's all about the windows. Coming up next we'll have the sucker spawn happening in the Western Mountains. After that, we start to see the first mayfly hatch of the year, the Hendrickson hatch. A Hendrickson Parachute that rides low can be deadly or the emerging Hendrickson or quill gordon patterns work well dropped below the dry. The caddis hatches start next and then we get on to the stonefly hatches in later June. Be ready with plenty of caddis and stonefly nymphs as well as plenty of dry flies. Soft hackle emergers in green are a game changer as June starts to open up in the Western part of our beautiful state.
Put the yard work aside and take advantage of those windows before they close.
Aaron Broaddus is a passionate fly fisherman and a Maine guide.