Early spring for anglers across the Northeast can be a difficult time of the year to catch fish. That doesn’t really seem to phase too many anglers though, mainly because they’ve been itching to get out since a couple days after the end of the season. There’s some tricks to getting into more fish and being more comfortable that you may want to browse through quickly before hitting the river this spring. First and foremost is safety. In order to have a fun time out on the water it’s omportant that you wade safely. We always suggest making sure you’ve got enough tread on your boots and perhaps even studding the boots for traction. Studs will help grip in gravel and on medium sized rocks much better than anything else. The Simms Hardbite star cleats seem to hold up better than other companies studs and are just as sticky. Another essential piece of gear to have for early season fishing is a wading staff. Wading staffs make getting down to the river and walking in the river much easier and paired with a good set of studs you’re a lot let likely to fall. We suggest the Simms Wading Staff for durability and overall quality
Next up is the fishing aspect. In early spring, fish are going to be sluggish and not all that motivated to chase their food. This is where getting your fly in the “zone” is extremely important. Sometimes early in the year fish won’t move more than a couple inches to eat a fly. This is where breaking down each piece of water into a grid and systematically work the grid will allow you to be more successful. This goes for nymphing and streamer fishing. You want your fly or flies to cover as much water as possible. Working the river starting close to you, and slowly lengthening your casts and working further out across the river will allow you to work the river thoroughly. Usually fish will hold in slower and deeper water but starting off using this grid pattern will hopefully help you key in and notice a pattern as to where the fish are holding so as you move around on a river you kind find similar looking water.
Fly selection can be important depending on where you are but don’t get too caught up in worrying about your fly. The more time you spend changing flies, the less time you have flies in the water the less likely you’re going to catch fish. As far as flies go, make sure you have a nice selection of beadheaded black and brown stoneflies. Our favorite is a heavily weighted Kaufman Stone but others will work well too. Be sure to have some red and chart. Copper Johns in #12-#14 along with a couple Pheasant Tails and some egg and worm patterns. When it comes to choosing streamers keep the water clarity in mind. In stained and muddier water which can often be the case bigger flies in dark colors work very well. Black Wooly Buggers and Zonkers in #2-#6. Be sure to have some heavier sculpin patterns in your box in case you find yourself in a very deep hole of in an area that you know has very large trout. A 4-8″ articulated sculpin pattern can draw strikes of bigger fish that may not eat smaller flies.
Being equipped with two rods is always a good idea too. Have a 6-8wt rigged up with a sink-tip leader and streamer. One of our all time favorite fly rods is a St. Croix Bank Robber. These fast action rods are perfect for slinging big bugs on sinking lines. Have a 4-5wt rigged up ready to nymph. We are fans of St. Croix Imperials for these rods, a 9′ 5wt makes for a great nymphing rod but can also be used for lots of other fishing situations. Lots of weight early in the year will help get your flies down quicker in faster deeper moving water which is often the case in early spring. When selecting tippet, use Fluorocarbon OX-2X for streamers and 3X-4X for nymphing unless in low clear water. Early spring can be a challenging time of the year to fish regardless of how you fish, these few tip should help increase productivity when fishing in cooler water and give you a more enjoyable experience on the water. Good luck!