Spring finally seems to be making its way into the Driftless Area. Even though this winter wasn’t actually any longer – or any worse – than normal, it sure seems like it was. That’s why Mother Nature’s hint of the coming spring weather seems so uplifting. Whatever the weather is, though, I’ll toss my snowshoes in the car for the first few trips to the stream. They came in really handy at this time last year.
With the change in weather comes a change in trout fishing style. Insect hatch patterns begin to change, and we need to adapt to them. Be sure to keep your fly box properly stocked to match the current hatches when you are on the streams.
I’ll continue to carry a variety of midge patterns. Personally, I like the Hacklestacker Midge in sizes 18 to 22 for an emerger pattern. Griffith’s Gnats in sizes 20 to 24 are also good for rising fish. For nymph patterns, Zebra Midges and Pure Midge Larva are my favorites.
Starting in mid-March, you will begin to see regular hatches of Tiny Blue-Winged Olives, sizes 18 to 22. These will continue to increase in size as the temperatures warm into the summer. Also watch for small Black Stoneflies. Try a Black Stimulator in sizes 12 to 14.
Late-March into early April will be the start of the Caddis hatches. Little Black
Caddis in sizes 16 to 20 will do the job for rising trout. If you don’t get a response drifting the flies, try skating them across the surface. For nymphs, try a size 12 beadhead followed by another nymph in a size 18. I like to use an Olive Two-Bit Hooker followed by a Soft Hackle Marvel.
If I don’t have any success with dries or nymphs, I’ll switch over to streamers. For a dark colored streamer, a Thin Mint Bugger
in size 10 or 12 is my go-to pattern. If a light color is needed, a Chili Demon in a 10 or 12 is a good bet.
My fly boxes are re-stocked, my fly lines are clean, and my waders are packed. Hope to see you on the water.