If last week’s weather was a roller coaster, we’d all be tossing our cookies. Up with the warm temperatures, side to side with the tornado warning, and then back down with the 3 inches of snow on Saturday! Whew! We all know how this weather makes us feel, but one question being frequently asked at the shop is, “how is this going to affect the trout fishing?”
This is a great question, and one that most people don’t necessarily know the answer to. Obviously, an extreme weather change can temporarily affect a river’s hatch, subsequently affecting the feeding pattern, as we observed with our caddis hatch this past weekend. But, how does something like barometric pressure have an affect on a fish’s behavior?
Based on research and a conversation with local biologists, the answer seems to be based on the relationship between atmospheric pressure (aka barometric pressure), the water, and the fish’s swim bladder. A rapid rise or fall in the pressure can have an affect on the fish’s feeding habits, because the pressure on the water causes an uncomfortable pressure on the fish’s swim bladder.
This is not to say that you won’t catch fish on days with low pressure. But for those of us that have the luxury of choosing which days to fish based on the weather, those days where the pressure is falling or stable are going to be more productive.
With that, let’s talk about what’s been working.
While precipitation (except for the frozen kind) has still been minimal, the colder temperatures are apparently the reasons we are seeing an increase in water releases over the past few days. These releases, for the most part, have been for 6 hours or less, still allowing for some wadeable water at or a little above minimum flow (between 700- 1400 cfs).
Although sporadic, we were beginning to see caddis hatching from Buffalo City to the dam, before Saturday’s snow. With rising temps in the forecast, look for these hatches to resume.
Caddis emergers and other caddis imitations have been highly effective. With Tailwater Soft Hackles, Prince Nymphs, Gut Instincts, and Pupae Delectae working as well.
Midges (ruby, rootbeer, & diamond in size 18), pheasant tails (in sizes 14, 16, & 18), devil jigs (red and copper in sizes 14 & 16).
Also, try throwing a Strollis Quill Body Jig (size 14), or Devil Jigs (size 14) either by itself or in combination with a colorful attractor, such as a Y2K or Keller’s Hot Worm. The jigs also make a great lead fly ahead of midge pupa.
Highly productive big water streamers include CJ’s Sluggo, Dally’s Twerkin Minnow, Schmidt’s Double Deceiver, Lafkas’ Super Cougar and Lovechild Sculpin, and Lynch’s D&D.
On the lower flows, large olive woolly buggers, Sparkle minnows, FS Bunny Sculpins, Kreelex flies, and Lunch $ are all producing.
Nymph fisherman can expect to do well with Garrett’s Purple Death (size 18), Clint’s Sunday Special (sizes 16 and 18), midges (root beer and black & purple zebra in sizes 16 & 18), pheasant tails (size 16 & 18), prince nymphs (size 14 & 16), hunchback scuds (size 16 & 18), and tailwater sowbugs (sizes 16 and 18).
Small sculpin patterns like FS Bunny Sculpins, Slump Busters, and Cone Head Woolies, are also productive when stripped slowly over the bottom. Other effective streamers are Bennett’s Lunch $, Jake’s CDC Squirrel Leech, and Craven’s Baby Gonga.