It’s Earth Time! – Flylords Mag

The sun sets on a cicada
The sun sets on a cicada just beginning its nightly routine. Featured Image by John Fallon (fallon_outdoors)

We are in the dog days of summer. Right now, it’s hotter than two mice in a wool sock and the creeks/rivers are hot, low and clear. But even with all this disdain, summer is one of the most fun times to target trout. The reason is simple. While mayflies are preparing for their fall appearance, ground insects and animals or “earthlings” come out into the grove. It can be sweltering hot at times, but take a moment to listen to what’s around you; frogs are clamoring for a mate, crickets and grasshoppers are chirping at night, and cicadas keep the campers awake at night with their noise. These groundhogs are the types of critters that trout are hooked on right now, and the ones that should be out of your fly boxes! In the following sections, I will describe some of the infamous bugs that appear during the summer and some tips and tricks on how to fish them.

The grasshopper: the king of earthlings

The West is the best. Not only is it a nice saying to refer to the East Coast surf, but it’s true for shrimp. Here on the east coast, shrimp are certainly around, but not in the numbers of the western United States. But while I mentioned that ground fishing is better and more popular in the west, the history of ground fly fishing surprisingly took place right here on the east coast. Vincent C. Martino in his 1950 book A modern dry flight code, is credited with developing the class of artificials known as terrestrials. And he did it at Letort Spring Run in central Pennsylvania. Ed Shenk, along with Martino, developed the Letort Hopper, one of the most popular and decorated hopper designs to date. Don’t ever let anyone tell you the east coast doesn’t have a huge landmass, because we sure do!

Chubby Chernobyl
A variant of a chubby Chernobyl

Hoppers still manage to find themselves in tough spots by misjudging jumps or blowing into the water on a windy day. Spraying a large flounder pattern in the middle of summer sometimes makes the most tired trout drop their guard. One of the best methods for fishing for shrimp, other than hitting the banks, is to use the dropper method. From the throat of the fly, tie 18-24” of tip on a nymph of your choice (a smaller dragonfly nymph works wonderfully in the summer). Your fly is now a feeding sight for a hungry trout and also your indicator. This is a great way to fish riffles in summer and other fast moving waters. My fly of choice is a big Chubby Chernobyl foam, a popular pattern out west for shrimp and salmon flies. Fat Albert is another popular choice for this technique.

Ants: food for trout

Trout like flying ants. The Catskill Mountains are known for a flying ant colony of epic proportions. I’ve only ever hit a flying ant “hatch” a few times. Once in the Upper Delaware main and another during my time at Penn State. What is unique about these hats is that they come and go quickly. They gather to do ant things—build nests, defend the colony, move the queen—and then disappear just as quickly. But when they manage to find themselves in the rivers, the trout swallow them. Cap matching is almost non-existent with ants. Just approach the model and you will succeed. These models are quite simple to connect. Two balls of duplicates separated by some hacker should do it. Or foam works well too.

Caterpillars: A Vague Miracle

Owen Sentiwany used a bright green jig to catch this beautiful brook trout.

I think every angler has a story about finding a Caterpillar woolly bear by the creek and sending it to Davey Jones’ locker. During the summer many years ago, I was in the Pocono Mountains and these fuzzy caterpillars were everywhere. I was a small child at the time, I proceeded to collect a handful of them and put them on a fast run. Within seconds, a feeding frenzy ensued as the trout furiously devoured these tasty morsels. My dad immediately hooked on a Woolly Bugger (another model developed in Pennsylvania by Russell Blessing) and I spent the next hour catching fish cast behind the cast. While the Woolly Bugger resembles many different insects and animals, I like to think it most closely resembles the Woolly Caterpillar. Although August is a bit late for caterpillars, the scumbags are still around and the fish can’t resist an easy target. Don’t forget that green inchworms are around too. A green apple is a great nymph pattern to tie under a fly or fish alone. Or dare I mention a pastry fly to imitate a grub!

Beetles: insects or indicators?

How many times have you swam in a pool to find a green, shiny beetle floating among you? The Japanese beetle is an invasive species that is here to stay. Introduced in the early 1900s, these beetles now inhabit the entire east coast. And somehow, they always find themselves in the water providing a tasty snack for the fish. In addition to the Japanese beetle, many other beetles are active in the summer months. Like many grounders, cap matching isn’t that important here. Just having something resembling the shape of a beetle should be good enough to fool a fish. Black foam is a popular choice to match the profile of the beetle. This is another good shrimp-like research fly since you won’t necessarily have a literal hatch. It’s not a pattern I fish often, but it’s worth a try on a hot summer day.

Cicadas: the loudest insects alive!

Brown trout cicada
This trout found a drowned cicada for an easy meal. Image courtesy of John Fallon (fallon_outdoors)

Sit outside in the summer and just listen. What do you hear? Loud noise of electricity running through power lines? Or is it one of the biggest bugs on the east coast crying out for a mate? There is no denying the sounds of cicadas. Annual cicadas (those that hatch every year) are around during the summer months. In 2021, we had an incredible hatch of Brood X cicadas, one of the 13 year life cycle cicadas, which led to amazing fishing. These incompetent flyers can fall from the tree like a small meteor hitting the ground. And if it happens to be in a river, fish see a juicy steak. Fishing during the cicada opening is one of the most fun pastimes a fly fisherman can have. Drop it subtly right out the door! When cicadas hit the water, there is nothing subtle about it. This is one of the only times in fly fishing where a large, ungainly splash is an appropriate cast.

Pattern X brood jacket
A Brood X cicada model linked by envisionflyworks. You probably won’t need these specific colors for another 13 years, but the annuals are green and black for inspiration.

Lighthouses: Conquering Fun!

The stars of the beacons
Immature lanterns feasting on a seedling in Pennsylvania. Image courtesy of Paul Hallberg

Since 2014, Lanternflies have become a new land to add to your fly box! They are a nuisance and should be killed on sight if you pass one, but fish eat them just like cicadas! The jury is still out on whether the fish think they are actually lampreys or perhaps cicadas or just some other large insect. But either way, they are fun to fish, just like cicadas. I won’t spend too much time talking about these, but refer back to my previous article for more information on this invasive species.

Mice: creep while you sleep

Brown trout mouse
My good friend Kyle tricked a healthy brownie on the west branch of the Delaware into eating a mouse created by envisionflyworks

I’ll end this article with my favorite land animals to fish for, rats! While all of the previously mentioned categories can be classified as terrestrial insects, rats actually fall under the category of terrestrial animals and are therefore included in this article. I don’t think it’s a big secret anymore that trout, especially big bluegills, eat mice on a regular basis. There’s nothing better than rowing down a river at midnight with a full moon lighting up your bow as you hear your mouse model blow up. Rat fishing is more of a sound fishing than a visual fishing. I will offer some tips for those who want to play the night game. First of all, use a heavy leader. Fish find it much harder to see the leader at night. I usually use a 10-20 lbs leader during the evening. This also helps with throwing those large mouse patterns. Second, don’t strip these patterns like a bar. A damaged bait moves through the water erratically. If you’ve ever seen a mouse swim, it’s smooth and rhythmic. Try tucking the rod under your arm and using two hands to float the fly through the water in a slow, steady motion. Finally, when you have a fish strike, don’t set the hook! Every time you pull the fly right out of the fish’s mouth it will drive you crazy when you first start using the mouse. Just keep pulling the line until you feel pressure. Then give it a good set of ribbons! This will guarantee success. Sometimes the fish will hit it several times before taking the fly. Be patient! Using the mouse is a fun way to end an evening when the action just won’t let you get home before dark. Things really do go bump in the night!

PigDog mouse model
A stellar mouse model (PigDog mouse) linked by envisionflyworks. If you haven’t tried purples yet, I would highly suggest it.

Summer fishing is usually opposed by trout anglers. But it doesn’t have to be. My favorite time to fish is late August through early fall. The reason is that, unlike in the fall where the fish seem to only want one type of fat fly, in the summer the possibilities are endless! Early morning mayflies can turn into flying ants, followed by grasshoppers, ending with mice! Any combination can happen to make summer an exciting time to get out on the water. Just watch out for those water temperatures and practice safe fish handling!

Featured Image by John Fallon (fallon_outdoors)

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.