Rain, lots of beautiful rain has fallen throughout the New England region during winter and into early spring. Streams that were chock full of hard fighting rainbow trout and wary browns have done very well over winter so far as inflows are concerned, which all points to one of the best trout seasons in the high country for many years.
Although it can be fashionable in certain circles to knock trout these days, the reality is that they have their share of devotees and for good reason. Trout live in some of best environments in the land and give an excellent account of themselves on the light tackle needed to dupe them.
Another facet of trout angling, which only those who involve themselves with these fish understand, is that trout are among the most reliable of all fish when it comes to working out feed patterns.
When the light is down trout are nearly always on the job, which means that early starts to get onto the stream before sun up are par for the course - as is being there at the last burst of bird song just before dark.
In between those easily identified times trout will feed on overcast days with great abandon, especially if the cloudy day is a fairly still one as well.
The successful trout angler is one that can use a very light fly outfit with skill and gentility. The fly needs to land in exactly the right spot and without undue fuss in the case of the dry fly or with some deliberation in the event of the wet fly being on the end of the leader. A 5-6wt rod is ideal for New England trout and most of the streams around Ebor, the trout capital of the entire area, are small enough to easily cover with this sort of gear although some of the fish in them in the last two years are giving the 1.5kg mark the nudge.
There are simply too many really good quality fish around 40-50cm currently inhabiting quite small Ebor streams and trying to play one of these big robust rainbows in snag filled water is a recipe for a lost fly and a broken tippet.
Whether it's a 5wt or 6wt rod in use it should be set up with a floating, weight forward line in matching weight. This way the chosen outfit will make dry fly fishing a pleasure; wet fly fishing just as much fun when surface activity has died down.
My view on fly tackle is that if we buy the best to start with it will give years of satisfactory use and fortunately the fly angler has never had it better in that there are a lot of really good rods on the market today. Match that rod with a lightweight reel with a decent drag and capacity for some backing and a good trout outfit starts to take shape. Leaders can be either home made or store bought; either way a rod’s length is about right with a fine, 2kg or less tippet to which the fly is secured.
It pays to remember that the interest the fish will show in a fly increases exponentially as the diameter of the tippet decreases. Trout can easily see tippets and can shy right off a fly if it looks like it's attached to heavy line.
To ensure the ultimate in floating ability we might choose to grease the floating line with Mucilin or Gink, the latter being an excellent fly floatant, but when the early morning rise has stopped due to Old Sol really turning up the ambient light all it takes to get set for some wet fly fishing is to rub the leader in mud from the stream side and this ensures that it sinks rapidly.
For those who are new to the game the idea with trout is to always cast upstream and either let the dry fly drift back over a moving fish or drift over the area where we might expect one is holding. You will need to retrieve the line at just the right speed to keep slack line out of the equation or make a long cast upstream with a wet fly and strip it back in little twitches and jerks at slightly more than current speed.
The take of the dry fly will easily be seen: the fish shows its head in a little swirl and as soon as the leader moves a gentle lift of the rod should set the hook. Wet fly angling is different in that there is usually no indication that the fish will take the fly until an almighty yank signifies that it has indeed done just that.
Keeping a low profile, walking gently as possible (trout hear and feel footsteps through their lateral line with ease) and wearing dull clothing that blends with surrounds are all good ideas when tackling trout with light fly tackle.
I have boxes and boxes of trout flies but rely on a few first choice patterns for most of my fishing.
In selecting dry flies for the new season a fly that is mandatory is the flying ant pattern. Spring storms trigger terrific falls of flying ants and once keyed in on flying ants the fish usually won't be persuaded to look at something else. Otherwise, for just about all of my dry fly angling I rely on two flies: the size 16 Royal Wulff and the size 16 Humpy, either yellow or red bodied. Both of these dry flies will literally float all day and are very hard for trout to resist. True, when a dun hatch is taking place the Adams is always reliable, as is a dun pattern such as the Iron Blue dun but for the moving riser that seems to be eating just about anything on the water the Wulff or Humpy is hard to go past.
Wet fly fishing will see a Matuka, Woolly Bugger (plain or bead head) or a large attractor-style black nymph on the tippet. Wet flies tend to be larger all round and a size 8 or 10 pattern is ideal. The idea is to get the fish to notice the fly hence the notion of going up somewhat in size.
There are well over a dozen well stocked trout streams around Ebor, but as most are on private property. It's common sense to ask permission before starting to fish a likely bit of water. The nearest house is always the best starting point and if the landowner does not own that particular stretch of the stream you can be sure he or she will tell you where the owner lives.
If another party is up ahead give that water the flick for the day and try somewhere else. Once disturbed trout take at least a half day to recover from angling intrusion.
And don't forget the thigh waders. Early morning forays along boggy and cold streams are not a real lot of fun – there can easily be frosts at Ebor in October. Nor is the heart-stopping stirring of a sunning black snake that's suddenly under foot as the day starts to warm mid morning.
Last but not least don't forget the NSW fishing license, which can be purchased on line via the Fisheries NSW website.Reads: 1995