August 1, 2015
August 1, 2015:
The early morning Trico hatch continues to dominate the interest and excitement of Members fishing the field water on the Double R Ranch. The Trico hatch begins to come off just as soon as the morning breeze fades away. Some mornings the Baetis come off before and/or after the Trico hatch. Some mornings Baetis are hatching on some beats and Tricos are hatching on other beats. Some days we also experience a late morning Callibaetis hatch, while on other days there is some great bank fishing for “sippers.” You have to be here to find out what you are up against. If the trout are feeding in pods you can assume that they are on Tricos. At any rate, the action is usually over by Noon, although some days there is some damsel fishing or Callibaetis duns n the water early afternoon. But, it will be hot outside this week. Stop by Picabo Anglers to expand your arsenal of Trico imitations as your Stream Keeper and other Members have found the trout to be rather finicky during the Trico hatch. Oh, and pick up some long 7X leaders and extra tippet.
We often marvel at our brother anglers who seem to instinctively know on which stage of the mayfly trout are focused in their feeding, and who select an appropriate fly so that they can hook targeted trout with an effective presentation. Those anglers have a distinct advantage because after years of keen observation they have mastered the art of reading the “rise form.” They pretty much always know what the trout are eating. There is no better time than the present to refine your skills in this regard; it will reap immediate benefits for you.
The fundamental principle of reading rise forms is a corollary of the maxim of nature that its creatures survive and thrive through the conservation of energy expenditure. Simply put, a trout generally will not expend more energy in the pursuit of an item of food than the trout will replace by its consumption; otherwise it meets a Darwinian end. Thus, we can assume that if a creature the trout wants to eat is moving slowly, then the trout will itself move only slowly to catch and eat it. In other words, there is a direct relationship between the speed of the trout and the locomotive capabilities of the insect the trout wants to eat. So, too, there is a direct relationship between the speed of the pursuing trout and the violence with which the water is displaced. These principles will help the observant angler interpret rise forms. Learn this, or forever be condemned to futilely casting dun patterns to other stages of the mayfly’s life cycle.
The subsurface “rise” form.
The inability to distinguish between a trout’s “rise” to the emerging nymph and the rise to the surface fly proper is perhaps the most common cause of angler failure when fish are responding to a hatch of mayflies. One needs to watch the fate of any surface bug present. If those insects are not being taken or if none are present on the creek, then the trout are probably feeding on emerging nymphs. On close observations many of the working trout will be “bulging” below the surface and often “pushing water.” This is important because trout keyed on subsurface insects generally are not going to respond to artificial flies on the surface; the converse is not always the case, however. You will do better tying on an appropriately sized and colored nymph, soft hackle or other subsurface offering for your presentation.
The “twist” rise form.
The “twist” is common feeding movement below the water surface, a cork-screwing action in which the trout – which invariably is lying close to the bottom – rolls on its side for a second or so at a very acute angle to the riverbed, and then resumes its usual dorsal up position, repeating this over and over again. Such a trout is focused on fresh water shrimp or scuds. Keep this in mind next time you encounter this behavior on a creek with such food items.
“Tailing” is an activity which most often is indicated by the tail of trout waving cheerfully in the air while the fish is busy consuming nymphs, aquatic snails, shrimp, scud, caddis and similar goodies from weed beds and the bottom of the creek. When the tail is continuously above the water surface one may even see a “V” of water downstream. Time for a subsurface fly which imitates one or more of these food items.
The “head and tail” rise form.
This rise form is the nearest thing to a bona fide surface rise that a trout actually makes without “going all the way.” Few sights get the anglers adrenalin flowing more strongly, as the rise form seems to occur in slow motion. This phenomenon typically is confined to slowly moving water such as is present on Silver Creek and similar venues. Under these circumstances the trout are usually feeding either on nymph or spinner that have become trapped below the water surface, so experiment with patterns mimicking these two food items. Time for a “sunken spinner”?
The “sip” or “kiss” rise form.
The “sip” or “kiss” rise has two revealing characteristics. The first is the distinct, audible kissing noise we hear, which results from the fish inhaling both water and air in the course of sucking insects into its mouth. The second characteristic is a small, pinpoint almost imperceptible disturbance of the water surface. Sipping trout remain motionless or drift downstream with the current, waiting for vulnerable morsels to come to mouth. Big trout have learned to key on these food items and ingest them with a minimum of energy expenditure, rarely creating a great surface disturbance. And, what are these targeted morsels? Most often they are spent (i.e. dead) spinners and nymphs in the process of hatching that don’t quite make it out of the water (i.e. “cripples”).
The “plain” rise form.
The plain rise is the simple, straight forward removal of the Dun stage of the mayfly, or other creature, from the surface of the water. There is no “kissing,” The trout simply sees the Dun, swims up to it, opens its mouth and takes the fly. This is most anglers’ favorite rise form. In slower water there will be a circular ebbing of rings accompanied by an audible smacking sound. And, even if one cannot see the take in slower water the trout may give the game away by releasing air involved in the take, i.e. by leaving “bubbles” behind.
I might run for public office some day; who knows? Therefore, I deem it prudent to disclose that this blog entry was freely and unabashedly paraphrased and pirated from the classic work, The Trout and the Fly: A New Approach, by Brian Clarke and John Goddard. My defense? It is for the common good and betterment of mankind’s favorite outdoor sport.
Doug Andres, Stream Keeper