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Early Season Fly Strategies

Immediately after ice off offers some exciting shallow water opportunities.
It’s always darkest before the dawn, at least that’s the way it seems as a new stillwater season approaches. Anxious fly fishers scour the web, local tackle shops, close and distant friends for any signs of ice off. The gossip this frenzy creates rivals that of Hollywood at times, or so it appears. Some years the anxiety seems a little worse than others. Mother Nature often refuses to release her winter grip and reports of sizeable snowfalls and dense ice abound, Tunkwa Lake for instance at the time of writing still had over twenty inches of ice. Some seasons I have been fortunate to get onto an interior lake early and feel the charge of the first Rainbow of the season. We still have to contend with shoreline ice but the effort is well worth it. Five pound fish hooked in less than five feet of water are excitable and tough to manage. Fly fishers yearn for these types of problems!

When water temperature is low try suspending leech patterns under an indicator.
Immediately after ice off the water temperature hovers in the low forties and is generally too cold to instigate any hatches. Trapped by winter stratification trout are prisoners of the shallows making them an ideal quarry for the fly fisher. Often sluggish from their winter sojourn pre turnover trout often need to be shaken into biting. It is during these times anglers should prey upon a trout’s naturally aggressive disposition. Patterns should be a bit on the glitzy side and animated through material choice and presentation.

Two of the primary food sources available to trout at this time are leeches and water boatman.

Leeches are year round food source most fly fishers are familiar with but water boatman are not always considered an early spring option.

Water boatman are one of the few active food sources and coupled with their air breathing lifestyle are prisoners of the shallows too. A combination pre turnover trout find hard to resist. Early season water boatman are in the latter stages of their one-year life cycle. Mating in the previous fall the females have laid their eggs and will soon be replaced by their prodigy.

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