As the Water Levels Drop

You’ve got to love the Mad River. In six weeks of fishing, I’ve brought two wild fish to the net. Not prolific catching but highly satisfying. I am willing to bet it’s harder to catch a wild trout on the Mad River than it is the Henry’s Fork. The above photo was a sweet brown trout caught (and released) on a black bead head wooly bugger. Note the Sugarbush Gondola sticker on the net.

The river level has been dropping as of late: last I checked it was 90 CFS, which is not ideal for the trout. Your tip for this blog is always fish when the water level is dropping. The fish can sense what’s happening and will need to have a meal or two before they settle into a holding lane to wait out the low water.

On May 12th, the stocking truck did a drive by and dumped 3800 bewildered hatchery trout between Warren Village and Ward’s swimming hole. These fish usually take a week or two to get acclimated. A bump in the water level will help them spread throughout the river system.

Did I mention the bugs yet? The Caddis and Hendrickson flies hatch nightly, usually around 5:00 PM. These are some of the most amazing hatches in years. Here’s another tip: when fishing dry flies, practice your reach cast and don’t be shy. Put on a 12’ tapered leader. This will extend your presentation.

The next time you’re down by the river, note the abundance of small fish in the shallows just off the bank. This is a positive sign that indicates natural reproduction. Don’t get discouraged if the fishing is slow, instead think of all those glorious days you spend at work. Hang in there – the rain will come, the river will rise, bugs will hatch, and the trout will eat.

Of course, please respect all No Trespassing and Private Property signs and always practice catch and release.

If you’re into fly fishing, or perhaps interested in learning more about it, mark Sugarbush’s Trout Day on your calendar for July 10th. You can also check out the Silver Trout Fly Shop in Waitsfield. Hours are Thursday through Saturday 10-5, Sunday 10-3.

Music pick for this blog, Hot 8 Brass Band. These guys got the flavor!

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