This past week was rotten. The one bright spot, Sunday, there were tons of bugs. The best ones. Hendricksons. They hatched from the riffles. The cripples piled into the backwaters. And hardly a trout rose. A quick dip of the nymph revealed what the trout wanted. But it wasn’t what we wanted. Monday, Tuesday and today were worse. A few fish were caught on streamers. The water became low and clear (for this time of year anyway), the temperature dropped, and the trout moped around the bottom of the river and we moped around too. Insult to injury: a quick nymph run yesterday resulted in a fair-hooked whitefish. Michigan bonefish, my friend Paul hollered down river when I showed him.
It’s gonna change this weekend. This warmup (the next four days, at least not as of tonight: 48, 56, 62, 62 Fahrenheit) will let loose the hatches and the trout will follow. The rain from today will bump up the flows but the South Branch has already crested at an unwadeable but not terrible 416 cfs (and dropping), which means the main and north should remain very manageable. BWOs, hendricksons, the first hendrickson spinners, and then at some point this weekend or next week, the black caddis and the mahoganies. It’s a sweet bouquet. It just hasn’t happened yet. So this report is more of a forecast. And if it sounds optimistic, it’s because it is. Is there any other way to be? Is there any other way to approach a river?
Guide Josh Nethers displays Hal’s dandy brown while Terry wonders how he got stuck in the back of the boat
I’m way too ready for dry flies, and not just because the last fish I caught on a nymph was the aforementioned whitefish. I love the mends and manipulations of the dry fly drift. I love watching fish eat the naturals and fitting my fly into that pattern. I love sitting on the bank with friends and just, you know, waiting. It doesn’t mean that my own fishing will be that of the dry fly purist. I’m not sure the river, or myself, is quite ready for the single-mindedness of a typical May. My advice: bring the nymphs, the streamers, the spare spools. This is the time of year, this is the weekend, to be ready for, and enjoy, all of it.
Rather than update what worked this past week, which I feel is now outdated, I’ll kind of figure what I think we’ll see this weekend. I think there’ll be some morning streamer fishing, some mid-morning early afternoon nymph fishing that may mix — if you don’t mind even more optimism — a few light hendrickson spinnerfalls (if all the spinners didn’t freeze to death), the BWOs, and then the hendricksons which may, again, mix with the spinners that may, or may not, appear in the evenings. When the water temperatures climb into the 50s, start mixing in some shallow water nymph techniques. Dry and dropper rigs can be particularly effective during the hendricksons, especially if it is sunny and dry and the bugs are getting off the water too quickly for the trout to bother with.
Cool old sunken riverboat
We’ll be celebrating this weekend because it’s going to be warm, and nice, and the fishing should be as well. So here are events both established and completely impromptu:
Demo Days: Hardy, Saturday, May 4th — From their new fishing bags, to a full line of reels, to the wonderful Ultralight series of fly rods, Hardy makes great stuff. We’ll have demos, deals, and a chance to win a rod. If you covet a piece of Hardy equipment, this is the day to pay the shop a visit. Hardy representative Brian Kleinchester will be on site through the morning and early afternoon before slinking away for a little fishing during prime time.
Winter Wear Sale: While not confident that the cold is really gone, we will be blowing out layers, outerwear, and more. Stock up now and save. We need to make room for the summer stuff…
Bangers and Mash Hendrickson Bash, Saturday May 4th, 8 am til we run out: Eat in, or eat out. An impromptu event that exists only because it rhymes and Terry and Lance thought it sounded good. Plus, it’s hendrickson time. A big plate of Irish sausage and buttery potatoes with Guinness gravy for breakfast. Will keep you full for most of the day. If not:
Cinco De Mayo, Saturday and Sunday, 11 am – 7 pm: Every year this event is among our most popular and delicious. From carne asade with skirt steak, to chorizo, even tofu (seriously), fresh salsa, palomas, margaritas and spicy micheladas, and a lot more.