Big Rivers Overview:
Smallmouth bass and other warm water species are what you should be targeting right now in our region. The fishing on the James has been unique. Some days topwater action will be inconsistent, but overall productive. Focus on the edges of the river, under overhanging branches, and above and below riffles. When the topwater bite isn’t producing switch over to a heavy fly and dredge it off the bottom in some of the deeper pools. This can produce some large fish, and you never know what will eat!
Smaller Streams (Including: Tye, Piney, and Pedlar)
These streams are low and hot. Fishing for brook trout should be limited to when the water temperature is lower than 70 degrees to ensure the health of our fish population. However, do not cross these rivers off. Try fishing in the lower sections and focusing on other bass and sunfish. These rivers can produce high number days and can quickly teach you (or a youngster) a lot about fish behavior. While in these area keep an eye on the stream “skeletal system.” The rivers are lower than than they will be at other times of the year and this allows you to gain better understanding into the depths, spring influence, and holding water that this fish will take. If you see a load of fishing holding in a deep pool keep that pool in mind for next spring as it will often hold some of the biggest fish in the river system!
Flies and Techniques:
At this time, our annual cicadas have not started dying off, however, do not overlook them as a valuable meal for our fish. I have seen multiply, LARGE cicadas stuck in streams that certainly became food for a hungry and now happy fish. As well, Damselflies are (and will be) a great fly for the remainder of the summer. Fish can often be seen leaping out of the water to demolish these skinny snacks. Don’t get stuck on one specific type of fly. Those and various poppers would be some of my summer picks for topwater.
Don’t forget about streamers though! This past weekend I was on a small bass stream and started hammering fish below an overhanging tree. I was curious to why so many fish were stacked up underneath this specific tree. As I looked up I saw an enormous bee hive a few feet above the water. No doubt those fish were used to seeing insects fall out of this hive. My fly, which was black and yellow, unbeknownst to me me, was falling on their usual dinner plate!
Change flies, colors, retrieve speeds, and techniques often as you may never know what the majority of the fish will be taking on any particular day and body of water!
April has been an awesome month for fish activity! Trout are actively gorging on the smorgasbord of food, shad and striped bass are pushing up the rivers systems, and smallmouth and largemouth are chowing down to prepare for their spawn. For those chasing them, bluegill have started to slide to the edges of our local park ponds and provide exciting targets for quick lunch-break fish!
April is an excellent time to get out and fool active fish!
Dry flies have been effective while a hatch is on, and on brook trout streams a dry is all you often need! That being said, on our many small streams a dry/dropper rig will often provide you better results (and more tangles). Try using a hi-vis dry fly and a medium sized nymph.
April is also an excellent time to try your hand Hi-Sticking (Euro-nymphing, European Style nymphing, Czech nymphing, or whatever you want to call it). Essentially, focusing on fishing nymphs.
Streamers have started putting quality fish to hand. Streamer fishing often works best when the water is running a little higher than normal, which is quite often with “April Showers.” Make sure you get the fly down and vary your retrieve speed. Success in streamer fishing is often found in covering as much water as possible. Cast out and vary your retrieve speed. Rip the streamer back as fast as you can, try quick spurts with long erratic pauses, or let it gracefully swing through the current. Once you figure out what works keep at it!
ETHAN’S FLY PICKS (5 top patterns)
For trout, my top 4 for flies this month are: Kevin’s Caddis, an unweighted Pheasant Tail Nymph, Black Wooly Bugger, Black Bead Caddis. My one fly for streamer fishing for Striper or Smallmouth Bass is the Half n’ Half.
Fish activity has been heating up as we get warmer temperatures and longer periods of sunlight. Small streams have been the main fishery we’ve been focusing on. Fishing on warm days and later in the day often are the ticket to landing more fish. Look for stretches of river that are warmed by the sun. These areas often hold fish trying to warm their little bones, and they’re more than willing to suck down a properly presented dry fly.
Don’t pass up large pools, but remember, these portions of river often take longer to warm up, and the fish will probably be glued to the river bed. A nymph is often what it takes to fool a fish this time of year in deeper sections of river.
Fishing a dry/dropper rig has been the ticket to success on many river systems that are 1-2ft. of depth on average. Anything deeper and you should consider using a nymphing rig or streamer setup. Streamer fishing has provided some large trout for several of our local anglers and guides.
Large March Browns, Quill Gordons, caddis flies, midges, and small black stone flies have all made their appearances and will continue to provide an ample food supply for trout. Be on the lookout for Blue Wing Olives here soon!
ETHAN’S FLY PICKS (5 top patterns)
For the small stream angler, fill your box with Psycho Princes, Tungsten Frenchies, Ethan’s Caddis, Parachute Adams, and Bionic Ants!
Stop by the shop, give us a call, or shoot us an email and we can help you plan and gear up for your next fishing adventure!