Friday, February 17, 2012

Weather Warm, Weather Cold ... Water Up, Water Down

Global weather change? I don't know about that, but it seems an unusually warm-to-cold-to-warm weather pattern has set in the past two months across the southern reach of the Appalachian Mountains where the guide-fishing team of Reel Angling Adventures spends its winter days. And it's changing our fishing tactics for trout on a near-daily basis. 

Yesterday's trip to the Nantahala River in North Carolina proves my point. Wet it was. Warm it was. But just days before, the mercury dipped well into the teens and snow flurries blew across the ridges behind moderate rainfall. The best trout bites came from the long, slow and deep runs where the fish were slow to move for any offering that didn't bump 'em in the nose. 
The head of a pool often holds well-defined trout
 that gather insects washed off the riffle,
or chute above it.
Thursday's trip saw water levels come down and water temps come up a few notches. After beating myself up working the deep pools, I found my best bites came from the pocket water. I got rid of the big stonefly nymphs and found small flies was the order of the day among our bug selection: Blue-winged Olive emergers, brown and olive soft hackles and, of course, the black midges -- all of them in size 20. And when the sun broke out, I understood why: Midges and BWOs didn't cloud the air by any means, but they fluttered slowly around in broken sunlight along with a descent showing of small black winter stoneflies. Rises revealed obvious feeders, and when I watched the water carefully, I saw the unmistakable flashes of trout feeding on bugs in the drift near the bottom. Key to getting a take was getting deep and staying deep, relative to any given piece of pocket water we chose to fish. It didn't matter if the lie was 2 feet deep or 8 feet deep. Presentations that tagged the turf definitely took the fish.

And that's the common factor in trout fishing during changeable wintertime weather patterns, whether warm or cold. Think deep, and remember the depth at which your fly drifts is an equation with three factors: 1) leader length; 2) weight, both in your fly of choice and any added split-shot;and 3) current velocity.  

Experience ... Exposure ... Execution ... Engagement ... That's real fishing with Reel Angling Adventures. Hook 'em!