Saturday, May 22, 2010

Get Down -- Lessons in Nymphing

Most trout feed sub-surface because, as Willie Sutton would have said if he were a trout, that's where the food is. More specifically the food is along the stream bottom -- where caddis larva, crayfish, sculpin and dozens of other creatures make their home.

This is why getting "down" is so important. If the fly isn't near the bottom, the fish won't see it. They can't eat what they can't see. And then you can't catch.

I was reminded of this reality during recent visits to Neshannock Creek near Volant (check the conditions at the Neshannock Creek Outfitters.), Penn. This beautiful little stream provides good spring trout fishing, with occasional hatches. But mostly it's a stream to fish with nymphs. It's stocked pretty heavily and has a nice holdover population. So when the flow is good and the fish are able to hide in the runs it is relatively easy to hook into some fish. But not if you don't get down.

On a recent Saturday evening I fished for nearly an hour before fully appreciating this lesson. I started fishing a shallow riffle and was bouncing the bottom -- and getting hung up -- with some frequency. But when I moved to a deeper run I couldn't feel the bottom at all. I added a second weight and fished for another 20 minutes before deciding I needed even more weight to get down. On the first cast with three split shot I hooked a rainbow on the green weenie. A few casts later I hooked a brown on the copper john. And that routine would continue for the weekend, as long as I was getting down.

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