The Crowsnest. A small river. Really just a stream. Beautiful. Some call it the perfect trout stream. Home to impressive rainbows. The closest river to my house. A walk away. When summer takes hold and small flies hatch, its large trout slide into the slow/soft water areas and feed subtly. Often in shin deep water or even less. Here’s one that was located the other evening in the shallows…taken on a beetle.
Over the long weekend I went to 3 rivers to see how they are shaping-up. It was unsettled weather: cool and high winds. The dry-fly fishing is improving daily. Hatches are strengthening. Some trout are willing to rise. Here are some photos from Saturday’s outing. All trout taken on small dries under a big sky…
a riffle trout
When looking for rising trout I watch the flat water river sections first. That’s where they are easiest to spot. If there is no activity then I search the riffles. Trout in this location are much more challenging to find due to the water being broken and faster. Throw in river glare and spotting can be especially daunting. So I focus on very shallow sections. Often water just six inches to one foot depth. Large trout feeding sub-surface in very skinny water occasionally break the surface, and therefore make noise and notify you that they are around. Sometimes it’s barely perceptible above the constant sound of the flowing water. But you get good at hearing it. You just have to stay in one place for a while and listen. Large trout in the shallow riffles also push or displace water as they intercept nymphs and emergers, and occasionally rise for a dun. Their feeding can disturb and slightly change the riffle surface pattern. Again, almost imperceptible. You have to concentrate and watch the water to notice. It’s all subtle. You have to observe and concentrate…kind of the key to learning and becoming a better fly angler or really a better anything.
The trout in these ultra-shallow areas can often be enticed to take a dry-fly or a dangling emerger pattern. On my broad local tailwater river fish hooked in the riffles sometimes have to sprint 40, 50, 60 yards before they get to the main deeper flow. Thrilling first runs. Thrilling stuff.
simple dangling fly, black wing for glare
Of course an angler can fish the riffles blind by swinging a streamer or prospect with a nymph below a strike indicator, or below a big dry-fly. These can be effective ways to cover these bumpy areas and catch trout.
I find spotting them first before casting, however, requires all of your senses and observation skills, and the practice further develops and hones your angling abilities. A decade ago I would have walked by the riffle stretch I fished this past Sunday afternoon and spotted nothing. It’s the same now as it was then…but now I see (and hear) more.
trout in riffles
In the evenings trout are showing themselves by feeding just subsurface (bulging) and a few on top. The best summer time may fly hatch is underway: Pale Morning Duns (PMD’s). I’m finding some fish in areas where the drifting may flies collect…big back eddies and smaller slow swirls. I’m seeing fewer rising fish on the slow flats and on current edges as bug density is still not high. Here’s one of the nicer rainbows spotted rising the other evening…
leaving the river
Heavy rain. Wet camera lens. Very few rising trout. No BWOs around. Rainbow taken on midge dry…
Most of our rivers have dropped significantly and can be fished and carefully waded. Things are ahead of schedule which is surprising as we’ve had a substantial snow pack year. Run-off has been consistent and gradual, so far. Hatches have been weak and therefore not a lot of dry-fly fishing. I managed a couple of fish on top over the weekend while angling large river back eddies/sloughs where rainbows were spotted cycling. They took an ant pattern…
large back eddy
Old limestone kilns.
What does this have to do with fly fishing? My region has a lot of limestone and cold running water. Ideal trout habitat. The Crowsnest river and its large rainbows are nearby.