You know that old Yooper’s song about the second week of deer camp? Well, its like that. Only for the fish. The trout were all exited for the arrival of skwalas, and for those first few weeks they’ve gone after anything that looks close enough. But now they’ve gotten in a routine. They’ve been at this skwala game a while now and its time to sharpen up your game if you want to get them to eat consistently. Yes, the dry fly bite out there is going like gangbusters, and I’m not saying things have slowed down. But the fish have spent a few weeks looking over every ugly skwala pattern a whiskey-soaked winter fly tyer can think up. A whole lot of foam and sili-legs have gotten munched, and they’re looking for the good stuff. Strong presentation and the right fly are going to set you apart from the pack this weekend. If you want to play the skwala game once the fish have settled in to that lazy deer camp routine of a big hatch, you’ll need to bring your A game and a backup plan. And just the right fly. Slim and low floating is the way to go, which doesn’t always correlate with being easy to see. A dark olive fly with a sparse wing is a tough one on the eyes, but it will get the job done a lot better than the big easy foams right now. Still want to throw the chubby? Give it a shot, but make it purple and a size 14 and you’ll see more eats than the big ones that were working last weekend. Bullethead, low, dubbed not foam… You get the idea. I’d let you fish my guide fly but then you’d have to pay me. And give it back at the end of the day. Head into a fly shop and let the fellas point you in the right direction. Don’t go getting “bin eyes” or you’ll get home with a whole bunch of flies with all the bells and whistles that can live in your box next to the other duds. Let the shop crew set you up. Now is a good time to offer the fish up something different if the skwala bite doesn’t cooperate. There are march browns and blue wing olives about, and they’re certainly getting eaten. Keep a few of your favorite mayfly dries handy. A couple of parachute adams and comparaduns should always be on hand in spring.
|These early April mornings are shaping up nicely.|
Subsurface the same rules apply. Early in the skwala hatch a purple Pat’s Rubberlegs and a tungsten beaded worm are great for searching out those fish keyed in on the nymphs. This weekend pick a slimmer stonefly pattern, and try a slim mayfly pattern in your rig. Now you’ve got the flies figured out, it’s time to get the cast just right. A great skwala angler puts the fly on the water just as precisely and delicately as they would a tiny midge to a big slow-eating brown. Get it there and let it fish. A clumsy cast will keep fish away from your fly if you’re worried about losing it. A reach cast and strong mends will find fish where others won’t.
Streamers? Sure! You know when to throw them. Bring a few of your favorites and get the arm warmed up in the morning before switching to the dries and you’ll be a happy camper.
Now most importantly, lets talk where to fish. This weekend is going to be a tough one for those who like solitude, but that doesn’t mean you need to be the only guy out there to stay happy either. Give some consideration to sections of the rivers you don’t usually try if you want to put some space between you and the other guys, or go where you trust it and bring a smile. Where else can you fish a big dry fly in April to happy fish? Not many places, so remember that when you’re on the river and practice good river etiquette. Your day will go smoother, and the fish gods like that kind of thing.