THE FOUR-MONTH closed season is over at last, and we can now look forward to some good times on the New England trout waters. The NSW season opens at midnight on Friday October 1, and there are sure to be a few anglers on the highland streams at the first hint of light on the Saturday morning.
Winter in the New England area was pretty dry, but rain during late August and in September topped streams up fairly well, given that most streams were running well at the season’s closure in June.
The warming weather, with insect life kicking into top gear, gets a big response from the trout. Although trout are a cold water fish, the warming water speeds up their metabolism and gets them back into the feeding habit. Those balmy spring days when the sun is peeking through a bit of high cloud, and with aquatic and terrestrial insects on the move, are the days flyfishers love.
New England trout are active right on light and again in the evening. By around 8am the surface activity shuts down, so it’s time to put on a wet fly and start searching out the deeper holes and the runs at the top of pools. Use a slow, erratic, retrieve to induce a curious fish to have a snap at the fly.
Useful wet flies in the New England region include the black Woolly Bugger, the various freshwater yabby patterns, and the ubiquitous Matukas, both black and red/black. Bunny flies in olive or black are also good, as the trout mistake them for leeches.
If it’s surface fishing activity you’re after, a warm day with cloud cover is a real bonus. I have often gone out at daylight after a hasty light breakfast only to return home starving at around 3pm, because the fish were really on the job and I couldn’t tear myself away. Such red hot conditions don’t come along too often in a season, so if the day looks like being a real snodger (plenty of high cloud, not too much breeze and higher than usual temperatures) stock a backpack with water and food before you set out.
When trying to predict how things will pan out this season, we can rely upon experience from other times as a guide. Early season, October/November, is often best for fishing while insects are hatching. All New England waters have ample caddis and mayfly populations, and mayfly hatches are common at daylight and late afternoon, with the big brown caddis hatching just on dark and afterwards.
Cloudy, stormy days can often kick off a big dun hatch at any time, so it pays to have a supply of dry flies in the box ready to go. The neat little Adams, in size 14 or 16, is hard to beat as a New England mayfly imitation, and the Iron Blue Dun is another good dry fly.
However, many a fat rainbow has fallen for a size 16 Royal Wulff fished just on dark simply because an exact imitation isn’t required at that time of day. If the fly is roughly the same size and shape of the insect, the fish often have a go.
Caddis are different. The best imitation is the Elk Hair Caddis, which fishes superbly as a dry fly. If you can’t get hold of some Elk Hair Caddis patterns, try a Humpy. The right size for either fly is 12 or 14.
Some anglers fish un-weighted nymphs during mayfly hatches because many fish take the nymphs as they come to the surface to hatch. While I enjoy the spectacle of the dry flyfishing, with the trout sucking the dry gently from the surface, the art of nymphing is just as exciting. You see the trout moving in on the fly in its path, sitting at the end of a greased leader tippet.
Again, less is more. A size 16 or 14 black seal’s fur nymph is a great imitation. Oddly, although most local mayfly imitations are either black or dark grey/brown, a hare and copper nymph (14 or 16) is also very effective, especially just on full dark.
One of the best aspects of nymph fishing is the durability of the fly. Unlike a dry fly, a nymph rarely gets wrecked after catching successive fish. You just give a nymph a bit of a wash after a fish is taken, snip off any bits that are hanging off it or look displaced, and put it straight back into action with another rising fish as the target. This is important when a good hatch is taking place right on dark and the light is shot. At this time, when it becomes difficult to change flies, a nymph simply keeps on doing the job.
Remember that a hatching mayfly nymph doesn’t move much once it’s in the surface film of the water. Just drop your nymph gently in the path of a rising fish and leave things alone, relying upon the leader’s movement as it draws tight to indicate a fish has taken the fly. A gentle turn of the wrist should set the hook, and then the fun begins.
First of all, you’ll need trout-oriented fly tackle. A 5wt or 6wt rod with a floating fly line to match is ideal.
You don’t need a hundred flies in the box for New England waters – just the ones I have mentioned, along with a couple more dry flies such as the Red Tag and the Flying Ant. You never know when a flying ant fall will occur, and the fish love these critters.
Thigh waders are a must for cold New England mornings. I never go without my Hornes waders; they’re totally waterproof and lightweight, and as the day warms it’s a simple matter of turning them down to make them into knee boots. A decent hat, landing net and a backpack for odds and ends and tucker completes the kit.
In spite of public liability issues, many land owners are still happy to allow responsible anglers on their holdings to enjoy a bit of fishing. My advice is to always enquire openly in a positive manner, making sure the owner understands you’re seeking permission only for fishing rights in accordance with the owner’s wishes.
I recently tested some models from the new Stream Dance series of rods from G. Loomis. There are over two dozen models in this range of trout rods, from 2wt to 6wt. There are two classifications – Stream Dance GLX and Streamdance Metolius.
The GLX rods feature top-of-the-line features such as select cork grips, eye-catching reel seats with ‘California Buckeye Burl’ offset oval inserts. All Stream Dance rods feature deep honey brown tones, and the overall finish is subdued to reduce flash and shine. Translucent bindings over nickel titanium alloy recoil (flexible) style guides minimize weight in the GLX version, yet allow maximum line passage easy casting.
There are two distinct rod actions within the GLX range – Presentation and High Line Speed. Presentation is designed for delicate dry fly presentation for tricky fish in slower waters, while the High Line Speed aids the angler by generating higher line speeds for windy conditions, or where distance casting is the norm. Both rods come in either three-piece or four-piece configurations, depending upon their designated weight.
There’s also a four-piece GLX Max Line Speed for powerful, distance-oriented casting or for use with big weighted nymphs under indicators much beloved for New Zealand fishing conditions.
The Metolius line of rods might be workhorses but the finish doesn’t reflect this. Translucent bindings over honey brown blanks are the norm, and these rods feature conventional stripping and snake guides throughout with very neat reel insert engraved with the G.Loomis fish motif. Action classifications for Metolius rods are Presentation and High Line Speed and Trout Spey, the latter being a 5/6wt 13’4” two-handed rod for big, wide rivers. Presentation Metolius rods are three-piece models, and the High Line Speed are all four-pieces.
I fished with a Metolius 5wt four-piece High Line Speed rod for several months recently and I was impressed with its performance. On tarpon it was brilliant, the speed and accuracy of the rod enabling the fly to be delivered spot-on to a fish that had just moved, and the recovery rate for quick strikes (not too quick or he’ll break off!) was amazing. It was super-strong as well, which allowed me to urge fish away from cover by using the rod as a lever.
All Stream Dance rods come in a presentation-grade hard case with screw cap, with the rod’s designation shown on the cap. A soft inner rod bag protects the rod within the case.
Last month I teamed up a Scientific Angler’s Mastery Series Trout weight forward fly line with the Metolius 5wt and got into bream and tarpon in the Coomera River. The coldish water had shut the fish down somewhat, but the super-smooth and well-balanced rod and line combination made up for the fishes’ reluctance and allowed me to make the best of those fishing opportunities that did occur.
And this is the reason we enjoy our premium fly tackle. Really good gear always makes any flyfishing enjoyable, whether the bite is red-hot or just lukewarm.
I found the Mastery ‘Trout’ 5wt line to be exceptionally easy to cast. Beginners to flyfishing, as well as old hands, would find it a great asset. I relished the very soft and quite supple feel of the line, which featured a long front taper to offer delicate dry fly presentations as well as the ability to maintain control in strong winds. At 30 yards long, the Trout specialty line has sufficient length throughout to make it really easy to manage.
Another important feature is the neutral colour. The test line was in Scientific Angler’s Dark Willow, which is an olive/grey colour.
Overall, the new Trout series lines, which range from 3wt through to 7wt, are top-shelf gear and will retail around $130 mark.
1) The author admires a fat New England brown trout.
2) A selection of G.Loomis Stream Dance rods on rod bags. Note the unique motifs on reel seats plus the high quality cork handles on these rods.
3) The Scientific Anglers new ‘Trout’ series of fly lines are a pleasure to use.Reads: 620