Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Late winter tributary fishing

Before our most recent big melt/rain event(which has blown out our streams for at least a week), many of our local WNY tributaries were fluctuating between ideal and close to ideal fishing conditions. And when they have been ideal, they have been fantastic! This is nothing new for this time of year. We always seem to have a nice little window of opportunity before everything gets blown out for a good week of high muddy water. But even then, there is a silver lining that comes with high water….it will draw in a lot of fresh spring steelhead!

A few of us hardy souls have been making some trips here and there between the ups and downs of our local stream water levels, hoping to hit it just right so we could put a few fish in the net. And I am happy to say that for the most part, our plan has worked out perfectly….so far!

This is a great time to fish the tributaries. We will not only have a great spring run of steelhead entering our LO tributaries, but also the added bonus of some big drop back lake run brown trout. And they are hungry!!!

The spring drop back brown trout fishing can be fantastic, but it does somewhat depend on the fall run and winter conditions. If we have a good amount of water in the fall, the brown trout run will be a good one. Combine that with a cold winter that locks up some of our WNY freestone tributaries, and you have a lot of fall run brown trout that can get trapped in the system until spring – that means there will be a lot of very hungry brown trout that will eat just about anything!!!

The flies we choose and our presentation will need to vary depending on water levels and temperatures. A good thaw will raise water levels and draw in fresh fish, but it often will cool down the water temperature by a few degrees because it’s all from snow melt. A nice warm rain will have the opposite effect, and we need to be watchful of how that comes into play. Colder water temperatures may mean that we need to slow our presentations way down, and be more precise with our drifts to get fish to take. And when they do take, it can often be very light. So managing your line well can make a huge difference.

Many of us know that there can be big difference between fishing the morning hours and afternoon and evening hours in the winter, but it can be even more dramatic in the fall and spring! I have witnessed this change many times myself over the years, and I am still amazed by it. I have had mornings start off cold, both with the temperatures and the fishing, and I struggle to get any fish to take a fly. I concentrate on dead drifting nymphs and egg patterns through the slower pools and holes, picking up a fish here and there. Then by midmorning I start to see fish moving out of the holes and into the deeper runs and riffle sections. The fish are now more aggressive and fishing becomes hectic as I work hard to land fish after fish, trying to take it all in before it stops. Then, in another month and a half all this craziness will be done. The drop back browns will be back in the lake, and the steelhead, which have finished their annual spawning ritual, will have joined them.

All I can say is..."It should be a fantastic spring!"



You are starting to move closer to the top of my list of who I want to fish with in the OBN!! You rock! Awesome catches.

bfly said...

RD - Thank you!It's all about timing. Some days the fish are there, and some days they aren't. You just have to keep the faith and put your time in.

Flyfishermanrichard. said...

Nice fish Brian. We don't have steelheads in the UK, but we do have browns that run to sea, called (wait for it) sea trout?

I'm going to sign up to follow.

See me on;

www.browntroutbrowntroutfishing.blogspot. Follow if you have time?

bfly said...

Thanks for the visit flyfishermenrichard - I like the fact that you live so close to small trout stream. I like the blog too and posted it on my page of ones to follow!