It may be out of context, but I think the exact same thing can be said about fly-fishing, at least regarding competition in the quiet sport. Do we compete with others? Ourselves? The fish? Or is it the difficulty of the game itselfâ€¦
With March Madness approaching on the river and the basketball court, without question this past February and this first part of March will go down as a big part of one of the best winter fishing seasons we have witnessed in awhile. With the exception of a few cold days, temperatures have been mild, the wind has been down, and the Midge hatches have been extraordinary. We have plenty to look forward to as temperatures and wind speeds look like they are going to remain the same as they have been, at least for the coming week or so. Get yourself even more pumped up to fish, because the bulk of the Little Black Stonefly hatch that occurs each March is due.
Fishing times have varied a bit, and the most difficult part of the outing may be trying to guess which hour will hold the peek activity for the day. Midges have been coming off and peaking as early as 11:00 a.m. and as late as 4:00 p.m. The really only sure fire way to make sure you are fishing the peak of the action is to fish all day. What a shame. Remember, a small thermos of soup will recharge those batteries and warm the body and the soul alike!
The Little Black Stone Flies pretty much crawl all around on the snow after migrating to the bank along the bottom. The presence of this little bug definitely draws fish, and good sized fish, very near the bank where the Stoneflies are easy targets for Rainbows just before they make it to rivers edge. Most common nymphs like Prince Nymphs, Black Pheasant Tails, Hares Ears and Zug Bugs fished in a size 16 or 14 is perfect. If you actually fish Stonefly patterns, make sure you are using the smallest sizes. Fish close to the bank either with an indicator and a dead drift presentation, or swing the fly into the bank below you on a tight line. Give it a few strips and stay ready!
The Little Black Stone also presents a great opportunity to throw some bigger dry flies such as Royal Wullfs, small / black Stimulators, dark bodied Caddis patterns, etc. Just get the size and color of the body right and donâ€™t worry so much about the wings or tails. Donâ€™t fish these blind though, make sure you present them to fish already rising to the daily Midge hatch.
The Midge fishing remains the pillar of the fishing day. Nothing is different here other than what weâ€™ve been reporting for a month now. It is excellent. The fish are rising daily in great numbers. Fish can be taken with tiny pupa imitations under the surface and with a variety of small flies on the surface. Zebra Midges, Zug Bugs, Brassies, Griffithâ€™s Gnats, Trailing Shuck Midges, and most male Trico patterns are all effective and about all one needs to carry on stream for Midge imitations. Fish 4X with nymphs and 6X tippets with dries. Enjoy this great winter season, and remember as angler numbers increase this month, letâ€™s all stay kind, polite and tolerant toward one another. A great day on the water should always include sharing a few kind words to your brother and sister anglers.