The main stream of current formed wide curling loops as it wove its way through what looked like a never ending sea of cattails. As the crow flies, my destination was probably only four hundred yards off, but paddling a canoe through the twisted maze put me back to paddling at least a few miles of water. The slow moving brook trout flowage gives up its best secrets but once a year when a narrow window of great opportunity cracks open in the springtime. Though I wouldn’t categorize this as trophy water, knowing the trout are native makes it that much more desirable in my eyes, and any native trout water that I don’t have to drive an hour to fish is nothing to complain about.
The water temperatures had finally started to approach the magical 50 degree mark, and the apparition of black fly swarms mingled with the occasional mosquito was an indication that mayflies were on the way, namely the Hendrickson hatch. The yearly emergence of Hendrickson mayflies usually triggers an onslaught of heavy springtime feeding by the resident brook trout population, and without question can offer some extremely fast paced and addicting dry fly fishing. During these heavy mayfly emergences probably the most important characteristic of any dry fly imitation is its size. Many trout will accept or reject your fly based on this quality alone. In all likelihood, by the time you arrive the trout will have eaten dozens of bugs that all look exactly alike, and if your imitation is off they will let it pass right by. For those who know their dry flies I usually fish a size 14 in either Parachute or Catskill designs. Though the mayflies appear brownish-gray their bellies are usually a light pinkish hue, and this is what the trout will see just before they poke their nose through the surface and take the fly. Based on that notion, I fish a light pink colored Hendrickson imitation almost exclusively.
This particular evening’s conditions supplied the perfect circumstances; little to no wind, warm afternoon temperatures, and small light chestnut colored mayflies could already be seen breaking free from the water’s surface. The dimples from rising trout stretched on until the forest of cattails seemed to swallow them up, but around every corner were more. On occasion a rise from a large trout could be distinguished amongst the many others, but most of the trout were around twelve inches; nothing to write home about, but wildly entertaining for any dry fly enthusiast.
The twisting stream bed was thickly lined with plant life that can only be described as resembling Woolly Mammoth hair swirling in the rambling current. These weeds provide an ideal environment for the thousands of mayflies to flourish, but it also provides ample opportunity for the trout to escape capture once on the hook. Multiple fish were able to shake the fly by diving headlong into the plant growth, and I found myself retrieving nothing but greenery. The feisty blue halo-speckled brook trout that enter the flowage from the many tributary streams and brooks will gorge themselves by ambushing the emerging mayflies every afternoon until the hatch ends in a week or thereabouts. Once the penetrating hot summertime temperatures set in the water temperature in the marsh reaches a high that the trout cannot handle, and they retreat to springs and cooler tributaries that provide the much needed cold water they thrive in. After that the window of opportunity closes, but for now the fishing stretches on until dark.
Cold evening air trickled into the Marsh as the sun fell behind the trees. It crept up on me while I was distracted by the rising fish. Accordingly, the canoe ride back wasn’t nearly as warm as the ride in, and I felt a shiver starting to brew. Along with the absence of warm air I also took note of the almost total absence of black flies and mosquitos. The coolness of night has a way of slowing down the blackflies and mosquitos, though only temporarily. It was getting quite dark by the time I approached the canoe take-out area, and I could hear the trout still splashing on the surface from time to time, but there wasn’t enough light left to see their riseforms. As much as I wished for more daylight, with the insect hatches now in full swing, there will be plenty of opportunity to make another cast at a rising trout.
About the AuthorJoel Susen is a Lincoln-area native who just plain loves to fish. If you’d like to contact him, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass along the message.
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